Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival celebrates 25 years

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this May with artists presenting lens-based works in exhibitions, site specific installations, and commissioned projects across Toronto.

Westin Harbour Castle, Mural on exterior of Convention Center
Esmaa Mohamoud, The Brotherhood FUBU (For Us By Us), 2020–21. Production detail, mural. Courtesy of Georgia Scherman Projects.

Themes addressed in 2021 reflect the intense upheaval, ongoing conflict and global unrest of the present day. Subjects include the perception of Black bodies in contemporary and colonial paradigms; Indigenous perspectives on land, culture, sovereignty, and the effects of colonization; the intersectional experiences of artists from queer and disability communities; representations of women’s bodies as sites of power challenging history; the state of the environment and the impact of humanity and geopolitics on climate change; and isolation, existence and survival during times of pandemic.

“Public installations have long been a vital aspect of our core program and are now highly anticipated by the international photography community, Toronto residents, and visitors. Many artists are showing in Canada for the first time and a number of participants are commissioned to create site-responsive works for public spaces. The 2021 Festival focuses on the environment and centers BIPOC voices through projects that confront local and global realities to expand knowledge and stimulate conversation. By fostering creative engagements in the public sphere, we aim to provide opportunities for meaningful dialogue,” said Artistic Director Bonnie Rubenstein.

Billboards Toronto at Dupont/Dovercourt & College/Dovercourt
Kim Hoeckele, Legs in Contrapposto with birch and oak stage, from the series epoch, stage, shell, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

The preliminary list of artists includes Sara Angelucci, Dana Claxton, Susan Dobson, Kwasi Kyei, Sasha Huber, Erik Kessels & Thomas Mailaender, Luther Konadu, Emmanuelle Léonard, Sebastein Miller, Esmaa Mohamoud, Isabel Okoro and Timothy Yanick Hunter, Frida Orupabo, Jon Sasaki, Skawennati, and Rehana Zaman.

Artist and educator Logan MacDonald will curate a multi-artist public project of work by Danya Danger, Peter Morin, Fallon Simard and Ange Loft. Toronto Photo Laureate and artist Michèle Pearson Clarke is curating a group exhibition featuring works by Nicholas Aiden, Lacie Burning, Seamus Gallagher, Tom Hsu, Christopher Lacroix, Wynne Neilly & Kyle Lasky, Isabel Okoro, Michelle Panting, and Brianna Roye. 

Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives – windows
Sara Angelucci, July 24 (Wild grape, Queen Anne’s Lace, Daisy Fleabane), from the series Nocturnal Botanical Ontario, 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Stephen Bulger Gallery, and Patrick Mikhail Gallery.

Projects rescheduled from 2020 include artists Laia Abril, Dawoud Bey, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, John Edmonds, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, Alberto Giuliani, Aaron Jones, Kim Hoeckele, Vid Ingelevics & Ryan Walker, Ebti Nabag, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Wardell Milan, Thirza Schaap, Greg Staats, Malgorzata Stankiewicz, Miao Ying, and Tereza Zelenkova.

CONTACT celebrates this milestone anniversary during Toronto’s Year of Public Art. Inaugurated in 2003, the Festival’s public installations program cohesively engages site, image, and viewer, and will expand its activation of spaces throughout greater Toronto this year to provide high-profile platforms for artists to explore critical and timely concerns.

“The CONTACT team is thrilled to be able to mount these engaging and thought-provoking projects during ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021. As we present our 25th season with an outstanding roster of lens-based artists, we are pleased to welcome back many of our long-standing partners and sponsors who continue to support our activites as one of the world’s top photography festivals. We very much look forward to greeting the public in May, both inperson and online,” said CONTACT Executive Director Darcy Killeen.

CONTACT typically coordinates outdoor public installations and exhibitions in gallery and museum spaces during the month-long Festival. While some indoor projects may or may not go ahead in May, the outdoor public installation program will go ahead as planned, depending on the Canadian government Covid-19 health precautions.

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