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'Signs of Your Identity' at New York's Photoville 2016

Event Date:

September 21 - 25, 2016
MIKE PINAY, Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School (1953-1963).“It was the worst 10 years of my life. I was away from my family from the age of six to 16. How do you learn about family? I didn’t know what love was. We weren’t even known by names back then. I was a number.” Image by Daniella Zalcman. Canada, 2015.

For more than a century, many Western governments operated a network of Indian Residential Schools...

Mike Pinay
For her project 'Signs of Your Identity,' photographer Daniella Zalcman juxtaposed her subjects against the former residential schools they once attended in Saskatchewan. In 2008, the Canadian government apologized for the residential school system, which a commission officially labeled 'cultural genocide' last year. 'It was the worst 10 years of my life,' said Mike Pinay, pictured against the residential school he attended from 1953 to 1963. 'I was away from my family from the age of 6 to 16. How do you learn about family? I didn't know what love was. We weren't even known by names back then. I was a number.' Image by Daniella Zalcman. Canada, 2015.

Join the Pulitzer Center in September at New York's Photoville 2016 for "Signs of Your Identity," an exhibition featuring the photography of Pulitzer Center grantee Daniella Zalcman who documents the legacy of Canada's Indian Residential Schools.

Photoville is New York City's largest annual photographic event–a modular venue built from re-purposed shipping containers creating immersive and interactive photographic exhibits. Photoville 2016, which is free and open to the public, opens Wednesday, September 21 and closes Sunday, September 25. Pulitzer Center Associate Producer Evey Wilson curated the exhibition.

Indian Residential Schools were created and meant to forcibly assimilate indigenous children into Western culture. Attendance was mandatory, and children as young as two or three were taken from their homes. Many of them wouldn't see their families for the next decade, while others would never reunite. Students were punished for speaking their native languages or observing any indigenous traditions, routinely physically and sexually assaulted, and in some extreme instances subjected to medical experimentation and sterilization.

The last residential school in Canada did not close until 1996.

Zalcman interviewed and photographed survivors and created composite portraits.

"These portraits are my attempt to get to the root of historical trauma. Each of these double exposures layers a former residential school student with something related to his or her experience: the sites where schools once stood, the cemeteries where over 6,000 indigenous children are buried, the documents that enforced strategic assimilation," says Zalcman.

The photography displayed at Photoville is part of Zalcman's Pulitzer Center-supported project, "Signs of Your Identity: Forced Assimilation Education for Indigenous Youth."

Photoville 2016
Opens Wednesday, September 21
Exhibition Launch 4:00 pm
Closes Sunday, September 25
Brooklyn Bridge Plaza*
Brooklyn, NY 11201
*at the corner of Water Street & New Dock Street

For a full schedule, including exhibition times and other events, visit the Photoville website.

To pre-order Zalcman's book of this body of work, visit the FotoEvidence website.

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