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Two wholly unique exhibitions, Between Us: Adad Hannah’s Social Distancing Portraits and Broken Promises each cast a spotlight on different but equally significant periods in history, transporting the visitor to a particular time and place. They also serve to showcase the range and versatility of exhibitions at the Royal BC Museum and the importance of finding the right medium for the message, whether it be video installation or tangible artifacts.
Between Usbegan in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic by Canadian artist Adad Hannah. Over the span of a year, he created 237 video portraits, or tableaux-vivants, of everyday people that capture the trajectories of our experiences, from the first weeks of uncertainty in our homes, to the summer of action by the Black Lives Matter movement, to our returns to work and school, through to the vaccine rollout.
Hannah worked with composers Brigitte Dajczer and Daniel Ingram to create individual soundscapes for each video, which work together to create a moving, reflective experience for visitors.
“This is the first time that all 237 of the social distancing portraits have been exhibited and I'm so excited for people to see this collection of video portraits locally before this project goes on tour,” says Hannah, noting most of the portraits were recorded throughout the Lower Mainland. “When I started making these portraits in March 2020 I had no idea that what started as an online project I invented for myself to keep me busy in those early stir-crazy days would turn into a large body of work.”
While Between Us uses video projections and music to convey the emotions and unique moments in time captured by Hannah’s camera, Broken Promises introduces the material records of dispossession alongside photographs and lived testimonies to share an intimate look at the real story of the Japanese Canadian dispossession.
Broken Promises is dedicated to revealing the history of the Japanese Canadian dispossession and the impact that period of injustice continues to have. An exhibition from the Landscapes of Injustice project, in partnership with the Nikkei National Museum and the Royal BC Museum, Broken Promises is a story of the violation of human and civil rights, the generational trauma caused by mass displacement, and the strength and resilience of the Japanese Canadian community.
“If Canada is to provide a just home for all, we must grapple with our most difficult histories,” says Dr. Jordan Stanger-Ross, Landscapes of Injustice project director. “This remarkable exhibition tells the stories of seven inspiring Japanese Canadians who overcame the injustices of the 1940s and rebuilt their lives after the devastating experiences of uprooting, internment, and dispossession. Through them, visitors learn about the wider Japanese Canadian community and the government that sought to destroy their sense of belonging in Canada. Their story still matters today.”
Between Us and Broken Promises, which are both presented in English and French, are open to visitors now through September 6.
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About the Royal BC Museum: The Royal BC Museum explores the province’s human history and natural history, advances new knowledge and understanding of BC, and provides a dynamic forum for discussion and a place for reflection. The museum and archives celebrate culture and history, telling the stories of BC in ways that enlighten, stimulate, and inspire. Located in Victoria on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations), we are a hub of community connections in BC — onsite, offsite, and online — taking pride in our collective histories.
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