CONTACT Photography Festival 2014: Our Photographers' Best Bets
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CONTACT Photography Festival 2014: Our Photographers’ Best Bets

We run through 15 visually arresting, thought-provoking exhibitions you won't want to miss.

Ian Brown, Cass ave

Ian Brown, Cass ave.

CONTACT Photography Festival, the largest photography festival in the world, is back for another year. Running throughout May, the festival’s 2014 edition focuses on the theme of identity and will showcase the work of 1,500 different Canadian and international artists and photographers at more than 175 venues throughout the city. To help you find your way around the event’s dizzying array of artists and shows, we asked four of our photographers to come up with a list of must-see exhibitions.

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Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks, Department Store, Mobile, Alabama.

ARTIST: Gordon Parks
WHERE: Nicholas Metivier Gallery (451 King Street West)
WHEN: April 24–May 24; Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. or by appointment

A survey of the works of Gordon Park (1912–2006), who in 1948 became the first African-American to take photos for Life magazine. Though he was initially known for his fashion work, his interest was increasingly drawn to works exploring issues of social justice. (Harry Choi)

Touching Strangers

Richard Renaldi, Naomi and Bruce.

ARTIST: Richard Renaldi
WHERE: Outside Metro Hall
WHEN: April 30–June 1

Richard Renaldi spent six years on the streets of America taking portraits of strangers using a large-format 8×10 camera. He would ask two strangers to pose close to one another, creating a sense of intimacy and connecting them in an unconventional and unexpected way. (Harry Choi)

Wanderings in Northern Kenya

Jordan Campbell, untitled.

ARTIST: Jordan Campbell
WHERE: Alliance Française Gallery (24 Spadina Road)
WHEN: May 1–31; Monday–Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. and Friday, 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m

Toronto-based artist Jordan Campbell photographed the daily life of a group of children at the Samburu Handicap Education and Rehabilitation Programme. Campbell’s approach involved trying to capture the personalities of the children rather than focusing on their disabilities. He encourages an alternative way of looking at differences. (Harry Choi)

Prairie and Pavement

Ian Brown, Cass ave.

ARTIST: Ian Brown
WHERE: Evergreen Brickworks – Kilns (550 Bayview Avenue, Suite 300)
WHEN: May 6–August 25; Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Toronto-based photographer Ian Brown documents Detroit’s changing urban anthropology and believes that despite all the city has suffered over the past 50 years, it has the potential to turn a new leaf. (Harry Choi)

Wakhan, Another Afghanistan

Varial Cédric Houin, The Spirit.

ARTIST: Varial Cédric Houin and Fabrice Nadjari
WHERE: Arsenal Toronto (45 Ernest Avenue)
WHEN: April 17–May 29; Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

In 2011, Varial and Nadjari travelled along the Wakhan Corridor. This exhibition features the images they captured of the rural lives of two coexisting tribes in a region of Afghanistan unaffected by conflict or the Taliban regime. (Harry Choi)

Silver Linings

Tommy Matejka, Miyajima Palm.

ARTIST: Group exhibition
WHERE: Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Boulevard)
WHEN: May 7–31; Monday–Thursday, 12 noon–6 p.m., Friday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m .

This group exhibition highlights the work of five young Canadian photographers, all of whom explore an interest in history through their art and incorporate analogue processes into a digital workflow. (Corbin Smith)

Till We Meet Again, A Love Letter

Aleksandar Antonijevic, Tanya.

ARTIST: Aleksandar Antonijevic
WHERE: Berenson Fine Art (212 Avenue Road)
WHEN: May 1–29; Tuesday–Saturday, noon–6 p.m. or by appointment

A month before he completes his final performance as a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, Aleksandar Antonijevic presents “Till We Meet Again, A Love Letter.” The exhibition features large stylized portraits of the dancers of the National Ballet of Canada—portraits that reflect his painterly style, reminiscent of the Dutch masters. (Corbin Smith)

Concurrent Streams

Maya Fuhr, HOTEL.

ARTIST: Group exhibition
WHERE: Project Gallery (1109 Queen Street East)
WHEN: May 1–7; Tuesday–Friday, 2–8 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday, noon–6.p.m. or by appointment

Concurrent Streams, Project Gallery’s first exhibition with CONTACT, features artworks by several Toronto-based artists whose works reflect current perspectives on photography, memory, and vision. (Corbin Smith)

40 Years. An Exhibition of Hip Hop Portraits

Ernie Paniccioli, BIGGIE in his Jeep.

ARTIST: Group exhibition
WHERE: The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West)
WHEN: May 1–31; Monday–Sunday, noon–5 p.m.

Go for the sweet throwback portraits of iconic hip hop legends; stay for the photos of the youthful and rebellious street cultures that informed hip hop’s essence and style. (Corbin Smith)

The Rift

Dominic Nahr, Untitled. Ethiopia. Erta Ale.

ARTIST: Dominic Nahr
WHERE: O’Born Contemporary (131 Ossington Avenue)
WHEN: May 1–31; Tuesday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. or by appointment

A selection of prints from Dominic Nahr’s travels through Africa over the last five years. “This body of work is a journey through the Great Rift Valley, which I have called my home,” Nahr says. “It is composed of the places I went, the people I met, and the beautiful and horrific magic that is held here in the cradle of life.” (Giordano Ciampini)

I’m Not There

Saman Aghvami, Maryam: Journalist.

ARTIST: Saman Aghvami
WHERE: I.M.A. Gallery (80 Spadina Avenue, Suite 305)
WHEN: May 1–24; Wednesday–Saturday, noon–5 p.m.

“I’m Not There” is an exploration of home—where that is, what it means, and how it can be remembered and reclaimed—through the eyes of a new Canadian. (Giordano Ciampini)

Through the Body

Jin Hua, My Big Family Dada, video still.

ARTIST: Group exhibition
WHERE: University of Toronto Art Centre (15 King’s College Circle)
WHEN: April 29–June 28; Tuesday–Friday, noon–5 p.m., Wednesday, noon–8 p.m., and Saturday, noon–4 p.m.

In this exhibition, contemporary female Chinese artists use their bodies and personal experiences to reflect the broader political and social situations experienced by Chinese women. (Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda)

Backra Bluid

Stacey Tyrell, Letitia.

ARTIST: Stacey Tyrell
WHERE: General Hardware Contemporary (1520 Queen Street West)
WHEN: April 26–May 17; Wednesday–Saturday, noon–6 p.m.

Brooklyn-based Stacey Tyrell uses makeup and digital manipulation to portray herself as a white woman, exploring through art the complexities of her mixed-race identity. (Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda)

In Character: Self-Portrait of the Author as Another

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #411.

ARTIST: Group exhibition
WHERE: National Gallery of Canada at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (952 Queen Street West)
WHEN: May 2–June 1; Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

This group show is made up of big names in contemporary art and photography—for example, Cindy Sherman and General Idea—who use themselves as subjects and explore shifting, malleable notions of identity and self. (Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda)


Steven Beckly, Untitled.

ARTIST: Steven Beckly
WHERE: Toronto Image Works Gallery (80 Spadina Avenue, Suite 207)
WHEN: May 1–31; Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. and Satuday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Repurposing archival photographs of same-sex couples, Beckly constructs a contemporary history of queer representation. (Lodoe-Laura Haines-Wangda)

CORRECTION: May 2, 2014, 4:05 PM This post originally stated that Ian Brown’s Prairie and Pavement will run from May 2–June 2; Monday–Sunday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m., when in fact it will run from May 6–August 25; Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. We regret the error.