There is no official theme for this year’s Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, which started on Monday. With more than 180 public sites, both indoors and outdoors, the month-long city-wide celebration of the photographic arts offers a broad survey of local and international talent.
Perhaps it’s the early whispers of swim season or my deep concern for the future of Toronto’s precious waterfront, but I couldn’t help but notice that many of the works featured this year were about the role of water in our lives. Inquiring about One can draw a line through photographic works that look at nature, community, identity or personal history, one of the many joys of making your way through the annual festival. (Tours are also a fun way to get in those 10,000 daily steps.)
As you make your list, here are 10 picks to consider for your own personal map.
“I wish you were here,” Sarah Palmer
Donald D. Summerville Poole, through May 31
What a perfect place for an outdoor installation of Sarah Palmer’s photographs, documenting the inner world of “last chance” cruises, where (horrifyingly) tourists pay to visit places severely affected by climate change. do The large-scale images are installed on the shores of Lake Ontario, ideally situated as the architectural design of the Summerville Pool mimics an elevated cruise pool deck.
“Double Pendulum,” Maggie Groot
Contact Gallery and Billboards, May 6-June 17
Reach out from your phone to check out the richly layered collaged images of multidisciplinary artist Maggie Groat, who uses natural and salvaged materials to create almost holographic designs. In addition to a billboard at Dovercourt and Dupont, there is an outdoor harborfront center installation and an exhibit in the Contact Gallery, where you can delve deeper into his work.
“Convenience,” Jennifer Chen and Jessica Rysek
Art Quarters Gallery, May 3-20
Two artists are creating a stunning homage to the St. Clair West Gallery’s past life as a convenience store. Jennifer Chen’s series of mass-produced confections draw attention to their subtle variations and the human labor required to manufacture them. Jessica Rysek embeds candies and their wrappers in blocks of resin, creating sweet shrines out of familiar corpses.
“The Exile from Babylon,” Jean-Francois Bouchard
Contemporary Art of Weapons, through July 15
Montreal-born, New York City-based artist Jean-Francois Bouchard documents a squatter’s camp through photographs and video on a decommissioned military base in California’s Sonoran Desert. With his lens focusing on detritus caught in tree branches, the lack of visible human activity adds to this transient post-apocalyptic environment.
“Scotiabank Photography Award,” Jin-me Yoon
Image Center, through August 5
The Korean-born, Vancouver-based artist’s list of accomplishments and accolades continues to grow, and for good reason. Known for shaping public narratives about issues such as environmental destruction, the Future of Iona exhibition was held on the island of Iona in Richmond, BC, where a former sewage treatment plant is now being replaced because of pollution. Lands are changing.
“Strong as water,” Serapis
Mason Studio, May 12-June 30
I’m intrigued by the Greek interdisciplinary collective Serapis and how they describe their process as a “multimedia nautical themed novel”. This narrative is enhanced by his photography, which is a core part of his work, which speaks to the theme by including images of marine life.
“Woodland,” Sarah Ann Johnson
Stephen Bulger Gallery, May 6-June 25
Wherever Sarah Ann Johnson goes, I will follow. The Winnipeg artist is known for pushing the photographic medium by adding paint, stickers and colors to landscape images, creating worlds you just want to immerse yourself in.
“Feels Like Home,” Sunday School
Art Gallery of Ontario, Billboards, May 6 to May 31, 2024
In addition to its first museum show, the dynamic creative agency Sunday School will celebrate black stories and communities with its iconic images at the intersection of Lansdowne Avenue at Dundas Street West and College Street.
“Separation,” Lynne Cohen
Olga Kolper Gallery, through May 27
The late photographer Len Cohen, who died in 2014, created haunting images of institutional interiors under his own name, focusing on symmetry and repetition in spaces. The absence of people makes her work seem familiar yet abandoned, an experience that feels even more prominent in our work-from-home offices.
“Images,” Jon Clark
Daniel Faria Gallery, through June 3
After Harlem-born artist June Clark moved to Toronto in the late 1960s with her husband, who had been drafted for the Vietnam War, she photographed her new home in the city to situate herself. Get started. The exhibition, which spans the 1970s through the ’90s, now feels full of nostalgia for a Toronto that seems to be drifting away.
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