Althea Thauberger, L’arbre est dans ses feuilles [film still detail], 2017. Two-channel video installation. Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Photo: Guy L’Heureux

PhotoLab 5: Althea Thauberger

In this new PhotoLab exhibition, Althea Thauberger’s two-channel video installation, L’arbre est dans ses feuilles (The Tree is in its Leaves), features the archival collection of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) Still Photography Division in an evocative exploration of history and identity.  

Commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, with support from the Canadian Photography Institute (CPI) of the National Gallery of Canada, the installation was inspired, in part, by the People Tree — a Canadian “family tree” produced by the NFB for Expo 67. The video also examines the legacy of Lorraine Monk, Executive Producer of the Still Photography Division from 1960 to 1980. Interpreting Monk onscreen, Thauberger quotes from interviews and correspondence, while interacting with photographs from the archive.

Plumbing the resources of one of Canada’s most important photographic collections – and featuring poems by Danica Evering, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Kama La Mackerel and Chloé Savoie-Bernard – this new PhotoLab installation is an immersive experience that probes constructed realities in Thauberger’s signature style, while encouraging critical thinking on the power structures that define us.


Friday, October 19, 2018 Sunday, February 3, 2019


National Gallery of Canada
Canadian Photography Institute Galleries
380 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4

About the Artist

Based in Vancouver, Althea Thauberger is an artist and filmmaker whose work involves provocative reflections on power — whether social, political, institutional, historical or aesthetic. She often engages in long-term collective research together with community members depicted in her works, resulting in thought-provoking video and film installations exploring issues of history and identity. Thauberger’s work also reflects the stories behind the sites she features — whether an airbase in Afghanistan, a psychiatric hospital in Prague, or a rental apartment building in Victoria, BC.

Thauberger’s work can be found public and private collections around the world, and has been presented at Canadian venues including The Power Plant in Toronto and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and international venues including the Guandong Museum of Art in China, the Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, and the 2012 Liverpool Biennale.

Althea Thauberger examining grey cards in the National Film Board of Canada Still Photography Division archive, Canadian Photography Institute, National Gallery of Canada, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist.

About the National Film Board Still Photography Division

The Still Photography Division was officially created within the National Film Board of Canada in 1941. For more than forty years, the Division produced and commissioned photographs documenting every aspect of life in Canada for use in print and other media.

In 1985, the Still Photography Division became the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP), and affiliated with the National Gallery of Canada. The CMCP amalgamated with the Gallery in 2009, and its collections are now part of the Canadian Photography Institute.

The archive of the Still Photography Division is an outstanding resource that comprises thousands of photographic negatives by many leading Canadian photographers, including Lutz Dille, Pierre Gaudard, Ted Grant and Michael Semak. It also features descriptive cataloguing cards and images printed and mounted on grey cards, which were originally used by the Division to organize, view and order prints.

Grey card featuring a photograph by Bob Brooks, Little girl watching television in her home in Birch Cove, Nova Scotia, 1965, Negative 66-56, National Film Board of Canada Still Photography Division Archive, Canadian Photography Institute, National Gallery of Canada

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Supported by

Scotiabank Photography Program


Soutenu par

Programme de photographie Banque Scotia