Increasingly, the world’s boundaries are becoming less defined. Our perceptions of the world are changing, too, as globalization permeates our culture, ideas, technology, economics, services and goods. This year’s CONTACT Photography Festival explores the positive and negative ramifications of such a world, with works based on the theme of “Imaging a Global Culture.” Urbanization, environmental change, global communication and economic exchanges: the images document and attempt to define a world in transition.
The 10th anniversary of this citywide, month-long festival features the works of more than 500 Canadian and international photographers at more than 180 venues—galleries, restaurants, hotels and public spaces. An nternational lecture series, film program and panel discussions round out this comprehensive festival.
THE DRAKE HOTEL (1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042)
Olivo Barbieri took his first aerial photo when he was a child—it was of a town square using a twin-lens camera. Today, Barbieri’s “Site Specific” project represents a more sophisticated take on this idea, featuring aerial views of Las Vegas, Jordan’s Amman, China’s Shanghai and Las Vegas in Neon Graveyard, taken from a helicopter, using a tilt-shift lens. Each city’s monuments are made to look artificial—a pointed testament to the fact that a city and its culture cannot be condensed to fit a picture frame.
CORKIN SHOPLAND GALLERY (Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill St., 416-979-1980)
Noted for developing American documentary photography in the 1930s, Walker Evans (1903–1975) reported the harsh realities of the era with unflinching portraits of people and environments as they were, not through rose-coloured glasses, like in Man and Woman at Amusement Park. Evans’ minimalist approach defied the commercialization and artistic pretension of other artists at the time; he even renounced lighting and framing. “The real thing that I’m talking about has purity and a certain severity, rigor, or simplicity, directness, clarity,” Evans proclaimed.
BLUE DOT GALLERY (Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill St., 416-487-1500)
Very few things in this world transcend language barriers the way music and dance do. Whether listeners understand the lyrics or not, they can appreciate the music’s rhythm and harmony. In “Gotta Dance,” through black and white images, Beverley Abramson explores the universality of music and the relationship between sound, motion and emotion, as in Waltz. From the Brazilian samba and the Texas two-step, to powwow competitions and ballroom dancing, music and dance connect and unite people globally.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN ART (952 Queen St. W., 416-395-0067)
One of Canada’s most acclaimed photographers, Edward Burtynsky examines the connection between nature and industry in his images, which are featured in public collections around the world. Burtynsky’s latest contributions are to the series “Imagine a Shattering Earth: Contemporary Photography and the Environment Debate.” This expansive study of global geography navigates the world, encompassing Shanghai’s Bao Steel #8, Shanghai, China, 2005, the Alaskan pipeline, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and Colorado’s Noranda mine.TOUR TIP: Pick up a CONTACT passport (a full map of exhibits) by visiting any participating venue or www.contactphoto.com or call 416-539-9595 for more information. For other galleries exhibiting works as part of CONTACT, please see the Museums & Galleries Guide.—Linda Luong