From its very beginnings, photography has functioned as a surrogate for human memory, capturing people, places and events for all time. Yet these images are not unassailable records of history. Events can be staged, different techniques and technologies can blur the line between artistic and factual representation and, fundamentally, photographs are subject to the biases and interpretations of both the picture taker and picture viewer.
So it is that the 12th annual Contact Toronto Photography Festival looks “between memory and history” for its thematic focus, exploring the medium’s documentary traditions and its role in crafting contemporary narratives. With 500 Canadian and international artists exhibiting at more than 200 venues—from the primary group show at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art to a public installation beneath the Gardiner Expressway to displays at galleries, shops, coffeehouses and a movie theatre—the event is the largest of its kind in the world. From May 1 to 31, check out these exemplary images and thousands more at locations throughout our art-mad metropolis.
The Pyramids, Giza, Egypt, 1992 by Martin Parr is one of many themed images on display at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, one of the festival’s main hubs.
Canadian photographer David Burdeny’s Five Icebergs, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, 2007 captures a distant (and quickly disappearing) vista as part of his show at Lausberg Contemporary titled Horizons: Greenland/Antarctica.
Through shots like Kedzie and Crystal, Chad Gerth’s Empty Lots series at Corkin Gallery shows nature slowly retaking abandoned urban developments.
TIP! The official Contact magazine contains a complete list of exhibitions and makes an excellent souvenir. Pick it up at all festival venues, as well as select newsstands and Starbucks coffee locations around the city.