Museum of Anthropology 1 Item Number: 2864/1 from the MOA: University of British Columbia


Photo-based work showing a section of the Museum's Great Hall in 1991. Image shows a Kwakwaka'wakw bear house post (A50036) in front of the Great Hall windows. The view outside the windows shows a partial ocean view in front of mountains to the north, and part of a tree on the museum grounds. Photograph is framed with white painted wood and plexiglas.

Cultural Context

Roy Arden's comments on the "Museum of Anthropology" series:
"Around 1990 I began to work in earnest on a body of photographs which sought to depict what I have called "the landscape of the economy". My goal was to search the surface of my everyday world in Vancouver for the effects of the larger forces of history and modernity. I was interested in registering both the traces of the past and the abrupt, brutal appearance of the new.
I was not interested in a documentary approach but was instead searching for an allegorical Realism. I had noticed in the photographic work of Eugene Atget and Walker Evans how allegory can emerge from careful attention to the real in a way that didn't seem imposed or artificial.
Any artist who wishes to discover and relate something of the story of this place as a human settlement must begin with its first inhabitants. At the MOA, the complicated, problematic history of BC's settlement comes into concentrated focus. I noticed that most photographs I saw of the MOA centred narrowly on the artifacts in an attempt to dramatize them. In my suite of pictures I tried to balance the depiction of the artifacts with a description of the surrounding museum itself with its plaques, stanchions and humidifiers. In one picture a totem pole is seen from the back, showing the supporting metal armature.
My favourite picture shows two students sitting before a group of totem pole sections. They are engaged in intellectual work - thinking. The MOA itself has a difficult task, it is engaged in an endless self-critique, searching for a future beyond paternalism."