This exhibition explores the mountaineering tradition of creating personal photography albums. These albums adhere to the principles of the Alpine Club of Canada, specifically the promotion of scientific study and the exploration of Canadian alpine and glacial regions, as well as the cultivation of art in relation to mountain scenery.
MONOVA: Archives of North Vancouver are the custodians of three meticulously documented and decorated photography albums created circa 1920 by mountaineer and marine biologist, Neal Carter, PhD. The albums demonstrate the ways in which mountaineers integrated photography into their expeditions, and how they combined technology, aesthetics, and sport to express a unique alpine culture. The albums include views of North Shore mountains taken during ascents with British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) members. Unlike traditional archival practices of separating photographic prints from albums for preservation purposes, these albums are intact, and each page has been digitized to secure the contextual relationships between the annotations and the images. From hand-pasted panoramic views of mountain ranges to the abstraction of scale between climber and glacier, these albums demonstrate the role of the camera in twentieth century exploration for the spiritual in the physical landscape. With new interest in the impact of our industrialized culture on nature, including climate change, the photographic albums of mountaineers are gaining greater importance for their historical evidence of the evolving environment. Neal Carter’s photographic albums allow the viewer to re-evaluate early mountaineering photography and investigate new ways of experiencing and visualizing landscapes in an interdisciplinary context.