For years, newspapers were as much a part of our daily lives as the weather they reported on. Yet, while technological innovation allowed for cheaper photographic reproduction (and fewer words accompanying images), the same advances led to a decline in newspapers’ “hard copy” presence. In this National Gallery of Canada touring exhibition, viewers have an opportunity to see not only what made the news, but also how that news was made.
Drawn from the Globe’s donation of 25,000 press photographs to the NGC’s Canadian Photography Institute, the exhibition is less a chronology of iconic events from the 1950s to the 1980s than an undulating montage – what co-curator Richard Hargreaves refers to in the newspaper that commissioned these photos as “an attempt to tell a narrative about the nature of the complexity of newspaper photography in a non-conventional, non-linear way.”
Key to the exhibition is the accompanying image of the cutline information, found on the back of each photographic print. A chilling example includes a 1948 photo of the “DEAD BODY OF WILLIAM POOLE,” whose corpse was redacted and cropped to reveal only the “SAFE OF TORONTO FLORIST CO-OPERATIVE” he was trying to crack before he was “SHOT BY POLICE.” A cheekier example is a photo of three Toronto convicts hiding their faces behind newspapers as they are led from the courtroom by a cop. Michael Turner