An interview by Carol Payne
In late 2016, Luce Lebart was appointed the first director of the Canadian Photography Institute at the National Gallery of Canada. For the previous five years, she had been director of collections and curator at the Société Française de Photographie (SFP) in Paris, one of the oldest and most esteemed institutions devoted to photography in the world. At the SFP, and at other institutions, she has introduced innovative scholarship and exhibition practices, including bringing to light archival photographs and photographic objects and linking historical collections with issues in art and society today. As a historian of photography, Lebart is particularly interested in documentary and scientific photography and in photographic techniques and processes and their connections with contemporary art practices. Among her most recent publications are Lady Liberty (Éditions du Seuil, 2016) and Les Silences d’Atget (Éditions Textuel, 2016). She has organized exhibitions and published books on the work of Hippolyte Bayard (Tâches et Traces), on First World War photographer Léon Gimpel, on forensic photography (Crime Scenes), on historical photographs of Egypt (Souvenir du Sphinx), and on Brazilian photography from the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to her scholarly, curatorial, and archival work, Lebart loves to produce photobooks. Her most recent photobook, Mold is Beautiful, was published in 2015 by Poursuite editions in France.
In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) announced the establishment of the Canadian Photography Institute (CPI)/Institut canadien de la photographie (ICP) in conjunction with David Thomson, a photography collector and chair of the Thomson Reuters Corporation, and Scotiabank. The CPI will encompass the NGC’s legacy collection (established in 1967 by then-curator James Borcoman), the holdings of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, and donations from the Globe and Mail photographic archive and the Archive of Modern Conflict, a collection of vernacular photographs held by Thomson. The CPI describes its mandate as developing “an accessible collection, active program, research hub, and digital portal for academic and public engagement.”
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