Presentation House Gallery
The Polygon Gallery
333 Chesterfield Avenue
North Vancouver, BC V7M 3G9

Collected Shadows: Photographs from the Archive of Modern Conflict

Opening reception: Saturday, September 14, 7 PM

Exhibition tour: Saturday, September 28, 3 PM


This exhibition and publication is culled from the extraordinary collection of the Archive of Modern Conflict. Based in the UK and Canada, the collection includes a breadth of amateur and professional photography from across the globe. Building on its founding interest in the First and Second World Wars at a pace that has been called feverish, the Archive of Modern Conflict has amassed over four million prints from sources as diverse as flea markets and auction houses, striving to “store, explore, and represent the lost shadows that lens-based technologies have scattered to the wind.” This uniquely expansive and unorthodox perspective on the history of photography raises questions about the social impact of camera images and how we visualize the past through the present.

The photographs in Collected Shadows span the medium’s history, documenting places and subjects that are loosely organized into themes of earth, fire, air, water and ether. The eclectic groupings generate unexpected associations and imaginative narratives across time and space, while revealing how camera technologies and techniques have continually evolved. A scientific record of the impact of electricity on iron is in dialogue with abstract photographs created by layering photo gels, as are kings and queens from vastly differing eras and circumstances. The poetic relationships between historical documents suggest new interpretations of the movements of history, while unattributed photographs (some from as early as 1850), underscore the diverse functions—including news, science and anthropology—of photographic image-making. The archive’s goal to “engage with and constantly reassess the legacy of the incoming photographic stream – to capture something of its metamorphosis” is provocatively revealed in this exhibition and publication.

The Archive of Modern Conflict is an organization and independent publisher whose publications on photography and art have won and put them on shortlists for prizes including the Dali International Photography Festival Best Book Award (2011), the Grafik Design Awards (2010), the Rencontre d’Arles Historical Book Prize in both 2008 and 2009, and the New York Photo Fair Awards (2008).

  • Francis W. Joaque, West African King, c 1890, Albumen print, 16.5 x 22cm, courtesy The Archive of Modern Conflict

  • Collected Shadows: Photographs from the Archive of Modern Conflict

  • The Archive of Modern Conflict's AMC2: Collected Shadows, 138 pages