Richmond Reconstructions, was site-specific photographic mural project produced for the Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC, Canada. For one year, I worked with the nearby local municipal museum, the Richmond Museum, to curate and photograph artefacts from the Migration Collection, an archive of personal items donated by the city’s residents.
The resulting object selection and photographs referenced both the museum’s cataloguing system and still life images found by archeologists the walls of the destroyed city of Pompeii. The reference to the dead city was a gesture to an art historical idea that when objects from daily life enter the museum, they cease to function, and “die” in the process of becoming artefacts. By creating aesthetically pleasing compositions evoking disparate historical narratives, the work aimed to be sensitive to individuals’ reverence for artefacts while challenging the notion of the museum as an impartial repository of culture.
Richmond Reconstructions was part of the exhibition Eternal Return, curated by Sunshine Frère at the Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC, Canada.
A quote from the exhibition catalogue:
Barb Choit’s photographic assemblage series, Richmond Reconstructions, reflects on the still life art genre. Richmond Reconstructions references archival documentation, didactic display techniques, centuries-old Pompeii murals and reconstruction archaeology. Choit rigorously selected museum artefacts and positioned them against faux-fresco backdrops. In presenting viewers with seductive compositions that combine kitsch souvenirs with collected biological specimens and practical household objects, Choit conflates commerce and culture. By bringing together disparate value systems, Choit presents a limitless space for reflection, revealing how symbolism and meaning are fluid and malleable when it comes to object relations.
— Sunshine Frère