The Long Lens on CONTACT
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The Long Lens on CONTACT

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“The Utopia of the 20-Minute Embrace No 6. 2000,” by the Gao Brothers.


Should you be headily developing plans for CONTACT, Toronto’s beloved photo-fest, here’s a (news) flash: with a cruel month of waiting still ahead, the festival program went live today. You can read all about it online and plan accordingly, but that seems rather proletarian. Why bother, when a city-cultural blogger can do the highlighting for you? Open your Moleskine to May 1 and mark the pages according to our picks, all laid out after the jump.


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Still from Peppers and Nudes.

Nudie Pictures

CONTACT’s “films on photography,” co-presented with TVO, Hot Docs, and the Inside Out Film Festival, are meta-sexy this year. There’s The Eloquent Nude, 2007’s intimate examination of the relationship between genius photographer Edward Weston and his much-younger muse Charis Wilson; directed by Ian McLuskey, it features archival and Super 8 footage, plus interviews with Charis at age 90. Peppers and Nudes is also about Edward Weston, whom you should definitely be GoogleImaging by now (unless you are at work! Not safe!) but is shorter and more docudramatic. The two Weston films show back-to-back, at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., on May 10. The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover is a UK film about O. Winston Link, with whom we’re unfamiliar but enthralled; the title hints at a bizarre love triangle, and the description includes the word “scandal,” so we’re in. Screening is May 20, 10 p.m. Plus: knowing the notorious Helmut Newton, as we don’t, the 2000 film Stars by Helmut Newton promises more than a flicker of celebrity skin. That’s May 28, also at 10 p.m., and all films are shown at the TVO public venue.

Torontonians to Know

When pigs fly, you’re probably looking at a Geoffrey Pugen photograph. A lover of animals, digital montage, and messing with your head, Pugen will present “Another Side of You,” his latest, most absurdist work, opening at Angell Gallery on May 2 at noon. Sara Angelucci is an East Coast transplant with, it would seem, a yearning for home. Regular 8, on May 8 to 30 at 401 Richmond, manipulates found frames of old home videos, attempting to stop scenes and transfix characters like “insects in amber,” finding moments between moments. Her work is haunting, dreamlike, a must-see. From May 2 to 16, cool new-ish studio Akin Collective (444 Dufferin Street, Unit E) will display previously unseen works by “futurist architects” Oliver Pauk and Zach Slootsky.

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“Le Grand Fatras,” installation by Gwenael Belanger.

Bloody Caesars with Belanger

Montreal-based Gwenaël Bélanger makes these sorts of lifesize, overlapping-perspective collages of urban journeys. In searching for the simplicity of things, he turns up with these installations that are at once kinda banal and completely surreal. We think he’s the Amélie of photography, but what does it matter what we think? See his feature installation, “Le Grand Fatras,” and then hear the man speak for himself.
Belanger’s Saturday, May 2, noontime talk will be a) bilingual, b) free of charge, and c) held at MOCCA (952 Queen Street West), which is conveniently located between brunch at Oddfellows and beers or Caesars-to-go from Sweaty Betty’s. (Note: Sweaty’s doesn’t actually “allow” you to take drinks to go, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t done it.) Oh, look, you have no excuses left.

Lessons from the Top

Magnum Photos is a renowned cooperative owned by the world’s sharpest shooters—who’ve just happened to set their sights on Toronto talent. Take the Magnum Workshop for $1,250 a person and get five full days of photography boot camp with the leader of your choice: Bruno Barbey, Chien-Chi Chang, David Alan Harvey, Alex Majoli, Peter Marlow, or Mark Power. Show off your new skills at the Magnum Workshop Screening, held May 9 at Camera Bar (1072 Queen Street West).

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Photo of Thunderheist courtesy of The Drake Hotel.

Photo Stars

Leave it to The Drake to make brilliantly low art of photography. The CONTACT edition of Quick Fix (held Thursday, May 14) zooms in on the phenomena of party blogs. Vanessa Gronowski, everyone’s favourite DJ and STUDIO Gallerina, will host this participatory session and help explore “how the presence of a photographer can transform the nature of an event.” Don’t smile; you’ll be on candid camera.
All images courtesy of the CONTACT Photography Festival.

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