Strange Love

Post-Second World War culture displayed curious and contradictory preoccupations. The atom — both “friendly” and deadly — appeared across a variety of settings. Visions of conquering space displayed optimism and faith in scientific progress and the anxiety of the unknown. Television shows, cartoons, novels, and films featured utopian futures of peace and plenty, and the wasteland of nuclear devastation. Photographers conveyed this intensity through vivid imagery, close cropping, unusual angles, and extreme lighting.

Drawing upon the National Film Board’s collection of historical documentary photographs held at the National Gallery of Canada and Library and Archives Canada, this exhibition expresses the drama of the period, the propagandistic battle of the cold war, and the strange love of technologies whose effect on human destiny played out as an eternal struggle between good and evil.

Part of the CONTACT Photography Festival.

About the Curator

Andrea Kunard, Senior Curator, Photographs, National Gallery of Canada curates, researches and publishes on historical and contemporary photography.  Exhibitions include Shifting Sites (2000), Susan McEachern: Structures of Meaning (2004), Steeling the Gaze (2008), Clash: Conflict and Its Consequences (2012), Michel Campeau: Icons of Obsolescence (2013), Photography in Canada 1960-2000 (2017) Marlene Creates — Places, Paths, and Pauses (2017) with Susan Gibson Garvey; Photostories Canada (2017 virtual exhibition); Anthropocene (2018) with Sophie Hackett and Urs Stahel; Moyra Davey: The Faithful (2020), and Kan Azuma: A Matter of Place (2024) with Assistant Curator Euijung McGillis. Kunard has taught photo history, Canadian art and cultural theory at Carleton and Queen’s Universities. Co-editor of The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada (McGill Queen’s U.P. 2008), she has also published in the National Gallery of Canada Review, (U of T Press), The Journal of Canadian Art History, the International Journal of Canadian Studies, and Early Popular Visual Culture.

Banner image above:

Detail: S. Yool (1923 – 2006), Scientists Pat Holden and Norman Harrison look into the test chamber of the ISIS A Satellite, 1965


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