CONTACT is back with an upheaval—the theme of upheaval, that is. This year’s exhibition, Still Revolution, focuses on the technological innovations of photography as well as its role in creating and documenting historical revolutions. The primary exhibit, Still Revolution: Suspended in Time, showcases the work of eight artists, each reflecting a technological and social revolution in their photographs.
One of the most arresting installations, Deliverance, is by U.K. photographer Mat Collishaw. Once the black curtain is pulled aside and one enters the side room of MOCCA, urgent images of children being rushed out of Beslan’s No. 1 School after the hostage crisis in 2004 flash like paparazzi bulbs. Lights burn an image into the phosphorescent paint on the walls of the room, an afterimage of which remains after the light has moved on (click here for a video of the installation). The pictures are familiar enough to strike a hint of recognition, but also general enough to stand in for the many similar images of children in violent situations presented in the news. “When we see these images on CNN, it makes us not feel good, but it makes us feel alive, which I find ethically dubious,” Collishaw says. “They were running from the barrel of the gun into the barrel of the camera.” The images are also recreated outside of the curtain in a grouping of daguerreotypes—one of the first mediums of photography—to contrast the past and present forms of reproduction.
Toronto photographer Barbara Astman‘s contribution to the primary exhibit is a reflection on a trip to Cuba called Dancing with Che. A series of thirty-three Polaroids (out of a library of three hundred) show Astman dancing to a Cuban music album in her studio while wearing a Che Guevera t-shirt, both purchased on her trip. “I enjoy working alone in my studio,” Astman says. “I try to think about an experience and how I can express the experience to an audience.” Astman cements her relationship with the show’s theme by using a seemingly dated but innovative medium, and featuring one of the most ubiquitous revolutionary leaders.
Among the other 250+ events are public Nuit Blanche–style exhibits, including one by Canadian photo journalist Louie Palu, War Zone Grafitti. While embedded with Canadian, British, and American troops in Afghanistan in 2008, Palu took pictures of graffiti created by soldiers, the Taliban, and citizens. The art is displayed all throughout Queen West and in the alley behind The Bovine to accompany his combat footage shown inside the club every Thursday night. The Bovine’s toilets will also play a role in the installation by housing photos of bathroom graffiti from Afghanistan.
CONTACT runs throughout May at venues all over the city.