NANITCH offers the first look into the Uno Langmann Family Collection of BC Photographs, an important archive of over 18,000, rarely seen photographs recently donated to the University of British Columbia Library by Vancouver’s Uno and Dianne Langmann and Uno Langmann Ltd. Spanning a sixty-year period from the 1860s to the early 1920s, this groundbreaking exhibition reveals dramatic changes in the province, as well as in how and why photographs were made.
The dynamic display of photographic material shows how the official activities of nineteenth-century working photographers using large-format cameras evolved with the introduction of amateur cameras and mass distribution of promotional photography.
NANITCH also brings to light new interpretations of the early history of British Columbia. The significant role of the camera in colonization is suggested by the exhibition title, NANITCH, meaning “to look” in Chinook jargon—the trade language of the Pacific Northwest at that time. Questioning colonialist narratives of progress, the exhibition emphasizes the contradictions of settlement. Early photographs of official land surveys, family portraits, industrial ventures, commerce, political events, Indigenous peoples and their displacement are brought into dialogue with dystopian conditions of failure.
The exhibition features rare albums of photographs, ranging from the first nineteenth-century government expeditions in the province to the turn-of-the-century, utopic community of Wallachin, which promoted land to entice settlers. Key photographers highlighted include Frederick Dally, Charles Horetzky, Charles McMunn, Hannah and Richard Maynard, Ben Leeson, and Edward Curtis.
NANITCH is a co-production of Presentation House Gallery and the University of British Columbia Library. The exhibition and publication are part of UBC Library’s Centennial programme.