CONTACT Photography Festival 2012: Our Photographers' Best Bets
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CONTACT Photography Festival 2012: Our Photographers’ Best Bets

From galleries and public installations to mobile photo tours, here's what we have our eye on at this year's festival.

Adi Nes, "Untitled" (1995)

CONTACT, the world’s largest celebration of photography, is upon us once again. Exhibits will be showing in galleries and on city streets throughout the month of May, this year centring on the theme of “Public.” As described by artistic director Bonnie Rubenstein, the goal is to “challenge the distinctions between our private lives and the public sphere.”

To help you navigate the dozens of installations, two of Torontoist‘s photographers have put together a list of can’t-miss shows.

The Dark Room: A Group Show Celebrating Alternative Process and Analogue Photography

ARTIST: group exhibition
WHERE: Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education (918 Bathurst Street)
WHEN: April 20–May 10; Wednesday to Saturday, 1–4 p.m.

In a world where Instagram gets purchased by Facebook for a billion dollars, it’s exciting to see a group show exploring various alternative/historical analogue photography and printing methods. (Corbin Smith)


"100 rue Blainville Ouest" (Gwenaël Bélanger, 2009)

ARTIST: group exhibition
WHERE: Arsenal Toronto (45 Ernest Avenue)
WHEN: April 20–June 9; Friday 12–7 p.m. and Saturday 12–5 p.m.

Though the academic jargon in their write-up may seem off-putting, the photos are pretty amazing. (Corbin Smith)

Toronto Transformed

"Strombo," incorporating part of City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub-series 3, Item 1234 (2011)

ARTIST: Harry Enchin
WHERE: Akasha Art Projects (511 Church Street)
WHEN: April 26–May 26; Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

A wonderful photo-mashup of contemporary and historical Toronto. (Corbin Smith)

Glass Ceiling

"American Girl Doll" (2010)

ARTIST: Jill Greenberg
WHERE: O’Born Contemporary (131 Ossington Avenue)
WHEN: April 28–June 2; Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Glass Ceiling is a rather smart exploration of postmodern feminism through conceptual photography. Greenberg’s metaphorical portraits of women show her subjects “simultaneously living up to and being undermined by society’s standards of femininity.” (Corbin Smith)

Sleeping Soldiers

"Kelso" (2007–2008)

ARTIST: Tim Hetherington
WHERE: Billboards on Lansdowne Avenue at Dundas and College Streets
WHEN: April 30–June 30

The last conceptual war photography series Hetherington completed before his untimely death in April 2011, while photographing in Libya. The photos are being shown as part of a national art-on-billboards project. (Corbin Smith)

At Home

"Mourning" (2012)

ARTIST: Rehab Nazzal
WHERE: I.M.A. Gallery (80 Spadina Avenue)
WHEN: May 2–26; Wednesday to Saturday, 12–5 p.m.

Nazzal approaches the recent history of the Palestinian struggle for autonomy with a high degree of imagination and innovation. Her exhibition is more than simply images, it’s a collection of image, video, and sound—all which speak to each other in various ways. (Corbin Smith)


"Family photo albums" (2012)

ARTIST: Max Dean
WHERE: Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West) and locations across Toronto
WHEN: May 5–September 9

An unusual way to display work: both installed in the AGO and via roving interactive events across the city. Throughout the month, the artist will appear in the Foto Bug (a “specially configured” 1966 Volkswagen Beetle) to showcase and hand out one of 500 photo albums to unsuspecting passersby. (Dean Bradley)

Adi Nes

Adi Nes, "Untitled" (1995)

WHERE: Olga Korper Gallery (17 Morrow Avenue)
WHEN: May 3–June 2; Tuesday to Saturday, 12–5 p.m.

The first Canadian exhibition of this internationally renown photographer’s work. Nes has a clear vision of the message he wants to convey—no easy feat given his subject is conflict in Israel. (Dean Bradley)

Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography

Still from "Dowry for Mahrou" (Samira Eskandarfar, 2006)

ARTISTS: Samira Eskandarfar, Amirali Ghasemi, Abbas Kowsari, Zeinab Salarvand, Arman Stepanian, Sadegh Tirafkan
WHERE: Gallery 44 (401 Richmond Street West)
WHEN: May 4–June 9; Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

A chance to learn about a culture that is often poorly captured by the media, this exhibition provides a look into what day-to-day life is like in Iran. (Dean Bradley)

Between Fantasy and Reality: Contemporary Photography from Cambodia

"First Highrise" (Vandy Rattana, 2008)

ARTIST: Chan Moniroth, Vandy Rattana, Khvay Samnang, Lim Sokchanlina
WHERE: Art Square Gallery (334 Dundas Street West)
WHEN: May 8–June 4, 9–11 p.m. daily

A rare opportunity to view works from Cambodia. (Dean Bradley)


ARTIST: various
WHERE: Start at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (952 Queen Street West)
WHEN: May 20, beginning at 1 p.m.

CONTACT can be overwhelming. This is a great way for first time visitors to experience the festival: an organized bike tour through the city to view all of the public installations. (Dean Bradley)


"Cakes" (2011)

ARTIST: Jennifer Reedie
WHERE: Wychwood Barns Community Gallery (76 Wychwood Avenue)
WHEN: May 22–31; Tuesday to Friday, 12–5 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Who would have thought that a photo exhibition could be shot, well, on an camera phone? It will be interesting where this convergence of technology takes CONTACT in the upcoming years. (Dean Bradley)