A Handful of Dust: from the Cosmic to the Domestic

Opening Reception

Thursday, February 7, 8pm 

Lecture with David Campany: Saturday, February 9, 7pm 

exhibition dates: February 7 – April 28, 2019

Here, curator and critic David Campany proposes a speculative history of the past century,  beginning with an iconic photograph by legendary artist Man Ray picturing a sheet of glass belonging to Marcel Duchamp covered in dust. In October 1922, the image is published in an avant-garde French journal with the deliberately misleading caption: View from an aeroplane. It is later renamed Dust Breeding. The very same month, a little English journal publishes TS Eliot’s poem The Waste Land: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

And what if dust is really a key to the ensuing decades? Why do we dislike it? We are stardust, after all. Dust must be kept well away from camera equipment, but it is deeply photogenic. There is also something universal about dust: we come from it, go to it, and create it daily. Inevitable and unruly, dust is the enemy of the modern order, its repressed other, its nemesis. But it has a story to tell from the other side.

The connections range far and wide, from aerial reconnaissance and the American dustbowl to Mussolini’s final car journey and the wars in Iraq. A Handful of Dust features a range of photographic works by renowned artists John Divola, Marcel Duchamp, Walker Evans, Gerhard Richter, Sophie Ristelhueber, Xavier Ribas, Jeff Wall and many others, alongside anonymous press photos, postcards, magazine spreads and movies.

About the Curator:
Based in London, UK, David Campany is one of the most acclaimed photography experts of our time whose fresh perspectives on the history of the medium have had a profound impact on art and scholarship.  He has published widely and curated a number of critical exhibitions. For his writing, he has received the ICP Infinity Award, the Kraszna-Krausz Book Award, the Alice Award, a Deutscher Fotobuchpreis, and the Royal Photographic Society’s award for writing. Campany is co-founder and co-editor of PA Magazine, which has been published since 2008. He teaches photographic theory and practice at the University of Westminster. 

Publication: An in-depth catalogue and other publications by David Campany will be available in The Polygon Bookstore.

Participating Venues:

2015 Le Bal, Paris

2016 Pratt Institute, New York

2017 Whitechapel Gallery, London

2018 California Museum of Photography, Riverside

2019 The Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver

image:  Photographer unknown, The Library of Holland House Library, Kensington, London, after air raid, 1940


Feb 07 2019


8:00 pm

More Info

Read More


The Polygon Gallery
101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver, BC