Staging Edward Curtis: Photograph by Sharon Eva Grainger

For the past decade, Washington State photographer Sharon Eva Grainger has been working closely with the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, BC to document the daily and ceremonial lives of Kwakwaka’wakw community members. One of her projects has involved collaborating to re-stage historic photographs by Edward Curtis. For each photo-shoot, Grainger discusses the Curtis image with her models and asks them how they wish to be dressed and posed. This exhibit brings together twenty of Grainger’s images with the original Curtis photos. Beyond the clear visual and historical resonance, all of these portraits reveal the subtle social relations behind the photographic encounter. They suggest that we might re-view Curtis’s work as the result of similar processes of negotiation—as products of both colonial romanticism and Kwakwaka’wakw self-assertion.

Organized by Sharon Eva Grainger, Aaron Glass, and the U’mista Cultural Centre for the public presentation of Curtis’s 1914 film, "In the Land of the Head Hunters."

Click here for a Bio of Sharon Grainger


Project Partners

U’mista Cultural Centre 
The Getty Research Institute
UCLA Film & Television Archive
The Field Museum
Milestone film & video
University of Washington Press
Autry National Center 
The Moore Theatre (Seattle Theatre Group)
The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Seattle International Film Festival
The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia - First Nations and Indigenous Studies
UBC Centenary 2008
National Gallery of Art
Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
American Museum of Natural History
New York University
Rutgers University
Bard Graduate Center