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Preview the 2009 Contact Photography Festival

The world’s biggest photography festival captures a medium’s transformative ways.
—By Amy Baker

Photography is arguably the modern world’s most popular and accessible form of visual expression. As such, it is constantly challenged to progress with the times and the needs of its innumerable devotees, all the while remaining true to its primary intent—to document life, from the extraordinary to the mundane. Technologically, the medium has evolved from its pioneering daguerreotypes to instant film to the present-day ubiquity of digital cameras and photo-sharing websites. It has advanced in spirit, too: First as an inexpensive way to preserve one’s portrait, then as a means to reveal exotic locales and, of course, a vehicle for artistic interpretation. Now, with their border- and class-defying proliferation, photographic images can act as educational tools and help advocate for social and political change.

This capacity for change, coupled with photography’s resilient nature, is explored in this year’s Contact Toronto Photography Festival and its theme, “Still Revolution.” In its myriad forms, the medium has drastically transformed the ways in which images have been created, disseminated and viewed over the past two centuries.

Throughout this month, their impact is evident at more than 220 venues across the city—neighbourhood cafés, commercial art galleries, TTC subway stations and even at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The largest event of its kind in the world, Contact features the works of over 1,000 local, Canadian and international artists and welcomes an estimated 1.5 million visitors in a celebration of photography’s power to shape—and in some cases, revolutionize—the way we see the world.

At Angell Gallery, Toronto-based photographer Geoffrey Pugen presents Another Side of You, a collection of works exploring the bizarre boundaries between fact and fiction. Morning After is just one of Pugen’s beautifully manipulated images that ask the viewer to consider fictitious constructs that are whimsical, yet strangely revealing.

Morning After by Geoffrey Pugen

At Angell Gallery, Toronto-based photographer Geoffrey Pugen presents Another Side of You, a collection of works exploring the bizarre boundaries between fact and fiction.Morning After is just one of Pugen’s beautifully manipulated images that ask the viewer to consider fictitious constructs that are whimsical, yet strangely revealing.

Invasion 2008 by Martha Rosler

Invasion 2008 by Martha Rosler

With Invasion 2008, Martha Rosler makes aprovocative statement about politics and the role of the media from both a feminist and anti-war perspective. Her Great Power series is part of Contact’s feature exhibition, Still Revolution, on display at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

Orthodox Church, 2008 by Donald Weber

Orthodox Church, 2008 by Donald Weber

Donald Weber’s Orthodox Church, 2008, captures the essence of loss at Vorkutlag, a gulag settlement in northwestern Russia. In his Pikto show, entitled White Nights, Russia After the Gulag, Weber documents the landscape and lives of the descendants of former zeks (inmates) and prison officials.

TIP! For a list of exhibitions, call 416-539-9595 or visit the festival’s website. You can also pick up the official—and highly informaive—Contact Festival magazine at periodicals retailers and participating venues throughout the city.

3 responses to “Preview the 2009 Contact Photography Festival”

  1. Another compelling exhibition is ‘Beautiful Destruction’ Aerial Photos of the Alberta Tar Sands.

    Showing at Event location/venue (please include address): Koma Designs, 1239 Queen Street West. Until May 31, 2009. Tues-Sat 12-6PM, Sun 12-5PM

    The exhibition merges art with the topical; the tension in the title is deliberate. Most viewers react strongly, expressing surprise and conflicted feelings; the beauty of the images clashing with the destruction depicted seems to instill an uneasiness that gets people thinking and filling in the blanks for themselves. Some people are amazed that it looks like this, that this is happening in Canada’s backyard. Others build deeper analyses, such as reflecting on how energy demand is driving development in Northern Alberta.

  2. I was searching for photography tutorials when I found your site. Very good post. Thank You.

  3. There are some beautiful photographs here. Its left me pleasantly excited for the 20th anniversary of Hereford Photography Festival in the UK which I’m shortly heading off to. Thanks for sharing.

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