Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
announced highlights of the 27th edition of the annual citywide event spanning the month of May 2023. Canadian and international artists will present lens-based works in exhibitions, site-specific installations, and commissioned projects at museums, galleries, and public spaces across Toronto. Among these are CONTACT’s critically acclaimed Outdoor Installations—a central component of the Festival’s Core Program. Inaugurated in 2003 with four projects, this program of public artwork celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023, with a number of guest curators participating in activating 19 sites throughout the city. The preliminary list of artists, documentary photographers, and photojournalists featured across the Core Program of gallery exhibitions and outdoor installations includes:
Farah Al Qasimi, Jawa El Khash, Anique Jordan, Celeste Pedri-Spade,
Alia Ali FASTWÜRMS, Robert Kautuk, Judith Price,
Lara Almarcegui, Faadhi Fauzi, Jake Kimble, Racquel Rowe,
Joi T. Arcand, Sybille Fendt, Maja Klaassens, Jayce Salloum,
Nabil Azab ,Christine Flynn, Long Time No See collective, Wayne Salmon,
Ursula Biemann, Lindsey French, Meryl McMaster, Simon Shim-Sutcliffe,
Catherine Blackburn, Karina Griffith, Pamila Matharu, Sunday School,
Jean-François Bouchard, Maggie Groat, Caroline Mauxion, Rasa Smite,
Ilze (Kavi) Briede, Grace Grothau,s Memory Work Collective, Raitis Smits,
Mary Bunch, Malmouna Gueressi, Colin Miner, Wolfgang Tillmans,
Robert Burley, Aziz Hazara, Esmaa Mohamoud, Jane Tingley,
June Clark, Johanna Householder, Karabo Mooki ,Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning,
Lynne Cohen, Vid Ingelevics, Suzanne Morrissette, Ryan Walker,
Marlene Create,s Jane Jin Kaisen, Joel Ong, Rodell Warner,
Erika DeFreitas, Sarah Anne Johnson, Abdi Osman, Jin-Me Yoon.
Bringing together the work of these artists from all over the world in presentations that highlight the seminal creative practices and issues of our time, the curators featured in the 2023 Festival further represent a multitude of voices, strategically expanding dialogue in new directions. Their critical perspectives help amplify the power of photography within public discourse. Participating 2023 curators include:
Sharona Adamowicz-Clements, Bahar Kamali, Lillian O’Brien Davis,
Jutta Brendemühl, Parker Kay, Danica Pinteric,
Chloë Catán, Sara Knelman, Kay Range,
Emilie Croning, Jacqueline Kok, Erin Reznick,
Joséphine Denis, Andrea Kunard, Ryan Rice,
Marina Dumont-Gauthier, Charlene K. ,Lau Mark Sealy,
Marianne Fenton, Emmy Lee Wall, Tara Smith,
FPPCM Program Students, Scott McLeod, Ariel Smith,
Carla Garnet, The Magenta Foundation, Adrien Sun Hall,
Anik Glaude, Toronto Pride Curatorial Team ,Jane Tingley,
Sophie Hackett, Memory Work Collective, Rinaldo Walcott,
Nasrin Himada ,Sarah Milroy, Freida Wang,
Tarah Hogue, Gaëlle Morel, Dianna Witte,
Tomas Josson, Musha Neluheni, Farah Yusuf.
A number of Core Exhibitions and Outdoor Installations present photo/lens-based works by artists variously exploring Indigenous futures, decolonial practices, self-determination, family, the complexities of identity, human relationships to the land, climate concerns, time scales, and memory, among other critical subjects. Additional Core presentations feature Canadian and International artists also working in photography and mixed media to elicit, complicate, and expand conceptions of cultural identities and diaspora, activating historical archives and addressing their problematic gaps by creating new ones, and by creating new futures through visionary world building.
CONTACT Executive Director Tara Smith said: “We look forward to working with these exceptional artists and curators, many of whom will create site-specific projects as part of our Core Program. The CONTACT team is also thrilled to welcome back many of our longstanding partners and sponsors who continue to support one of the world’s top photography festivals. Please check our website for further updates and mark your calendars for another dynamic photo-centric month in Toronto.”
Preview of selected CONTACT 2023 projects
St. Catharines (Ontario)-based artist Maggie Groat will present newly commissioned work in a site-specific installation at Brookfield Place, and in a solo exhibition at CONTACT Gallery. Groat's current research surrounds states of becoming, decolonial ways of being, plants and gardens as portals, slowness, Indigenous Futurisms, the utility of images, and the transformative potentials of salvaged materials during times of climate emergency. Her methodologies are informed by states of being in-between, intuition, acts of care, site-specific responsiveness, strategies of collage, and hopeful speculation.
Joi T. Arcand, Celeste Pedri-Spade, Catherine Blackburn
How can photographs support personal and family histories? How can they act as the basis for social, political, and conceptual explorations of Indigenous identity when they are put through a process of materialization, transforming them into new art and cultural objects? A co-presentation by Native Women in the Arts and Critical Distance Centre for Curators, this exhibition engages the work of artists Joi T. Arcand, Celeste Pedri-Spade, and Catherine Blackburn, each of whom utilizes photography combined with textiles, adornment arts, and customary practices to examine themes of intergenerational memory, familial narrative, and decolonization.
Jake Kimble: Grow Up #1
Jake Kimble’s practice combines humour and pathos in vulnerable, self-reflective images often featuring the artist engaged in acts of self-repair. Grow Up #1 is a photograph of the artist taken by his mother, overlaid with the text “I was told peace was mine to keep,” the statement of a promise unfulfilled or a burden to bear. The work reflects Kimble’s experience growing up in a chaotic household in which he felt the burden of adult responsibility. In the image he wears a cowboy hat, on his way to the Calgary stampede, complicating his identity as a Chipewyan (Dëne Sųłıné) child from Treaty 8 territory in the Northwest Territories, and subverting traditional dichotomies of “cowboys and Indians” and “parent and child” by playing both roles simultaneously. Presented in partnership with Capture Photography Festival.
Meryl McMaster: Bloodline
McMichael and Remai Modern present a survey exhibition of Canadian artist Meryl McMaster which looks back to her past accomplishments and presents her explorations of family histories, in particular her Plains Cree female forebears from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. Family photographs, diaries, and historic accounts of the region and its colonial history contribute to this new suite of works, including two videos shot in Saskatchewan—the artist’s first time working with the medium. Themes include memory, erasure, diaspora, and self-determination, with past trauma filtered through McMaster’s creative imagination. Organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in partnership with Remai Modern.
Robert Kautuk: Up Front: Inuit Public Art
The Inuit Art Foundation (IAF) and Onsite Gallery present Up Front: Inuit Public Art at Onsite Gallery, a new series of commissioned digital murals by Inuit artists. In this iteration, aerial photography by Robert Kautuk animates the gallery’s façade at street level, bringing his unique vision to downtown Toronto. Onsite Gallery recognizes the important contributions of the Inuit art sector and is pleased to work with the IAF to support Inuit art and artists in the public realm. The IAF empowers Inuit artists’ self-expression and self-determination through platforms including the Inuit Art Quarterly (IAQ), the IAQ Profiles, artist services, awards, scholarships, and mentorship opportunities.
Group exhibition: more-than-human
Ursula Biemann, Forest Mind, 2021
Presented by Onsite Gallery, more-than-human features ten contemporary Canadian and international artists exploring human–natural relationships through technology to promote new ways of understanding the natural world. Curated by artist/researcher Jane Tingley (York University), the interactive and experiential artworks use digital media to challenge, excite, and shift our collective understanding of the more-than-human mind. Inspired by an ethics of inclusion that acknowledges the rights of nature through stewardship and care, the exhibition questions what it means to be alive and have agency, bringing together artists, Indigenous leaders, scholars, technologists, and scientists to build connections across diverse knowledge fields.
Artists: Ursula Biemann, Mary Bunch, Faadhi Fauzi & Ilze (Kavi) Briede, Lindsey French, Grace Grothaus, Suzanne Morissette, Joel Ong, Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits, Jane Tingley, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning
Sunday School: Feels Like Home
Sunday School, from the series Jump Ball, 2019. Photography by Joshua Kissi.
Founded in 2017 in Toronto by creative director Josef Adamu, Sunday School is a creative agency that brings together photographers, videographers, stylists, and models from across Africa and the diaspora to create compelling visual stories. This two-part presentation—including an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and on selected billboards in Toronto—will be Sunday School’s first major display in the city, while marking their sixth anniversary. Both parts of this presentation celebrate the agency’s collaborative ethos and the ways in which Sunday School is pushing the boundaries of storytelling, shedding light on notions of identity, fashion, and culture at the intersection of art and education.
Wolfgang Tillmans: To look without fear
Wolfgang Tillmans: To look without fear is the artist’s first major retrospective in Canada. Tillmans’ photography ranges from intimate observations to incisive commentary on the shape of our world today. This momentous exhibition will feature ecstatic images of nightlife, sensitive portraits, architectural studies, documents of social movements, still lifes, astronomical phenomena, and camera-less abstractions. The exhibition reveals the full breadth of Tillmans’ creative output to date, with photographs, video projections, sound installations, and his ongoing project Truth Study Center on display. Organized by Roxana Marcoci, The David Dechman Senior Curator, with Caitlin Ryan, Curatorial Assistant, and Phil Taylor, former Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, NY. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) presentation is organized by Sophie Hackett, Curator, Photography, AGO.
Farah Al Qasimi: Night Swimming
Working between the United Arab Emirates and New York, Farah Al Qasimi finds her collage-like compositions—dense with texture, pattern, and colour—in cityscapes around her, or creates them in her studio. Fragments of shop displays, luxury interiors, and street life weave together the complexities of cultural identity, gender roles, and consumer culture. Many of the images in Night Swimming were made after dark and reflect feelings of isolation or escape, with details often revealed or obscured by the omnipresence of mirrors, curtains, reflections, and screens.
Jin-me Yoon: Scotiabank Photography Award
Jin-Me Yoon, A Group of Sixty-Seven, 1996.
Composed of seminal series along with new works, the exhibition celebrates artist Jin-me Yoon’s lens-based art. Korean-born and based in Vancouver, Yoon reflects critically upon the construction of national and diasporic identities in relation to her personal experience and broader geopolitical contexts. The artist, winner of the 2022 Scotiabank Photography Award, repurposes visual stereotypes and dominant narratives to explore gender, culture, and citizenship in an accelerated, globalized era. Yoon’s work also reframes viewers’ understanding of some of the most pressing issues today, including the impacts of colonialism, militarization, displacement, and environmental devastation.
Pamila Matharu | SOME TOTAL
Of Sikh Panjabi heritage, Toronto-based, interdisciplinary artist and winner of the Burtynsky Photobook Grant (2020) Pamila Matharu continues their decade-long inquiry into identifying the marginalized and racialized voices in the arts, the creative practitioners excluded from the artistic canon as women of colour. Leveraging feminist strategies and decolonial aesthetics, Matharu draws on their own and their peers’ work, and their collection of archival material, to create a collaborative platform for all. SOME TOTAL comprises an indoor multimedia component and an outdoor photographic banner presented on the building’s façade.
Group Exhibition | BLACK (Cite)
Wayne Salmon, Braids, Regent Park, 2005
Too often Black art is understood solely through the lenses of identity, representation, and belonging. The works in BLACK (Cite) exceed these readings through citation, formalism, and abstraction. Exemplifying Black aesthetic traditions of art-making in documentary, collage, and abstract practices, the artists featured employ modes of working including poetic meditation on the sea and water, documentation of everyday Black life, performing Black living, and commenting on sexuality and gender and their pleasures. The exhibition places these Canadian artists’ work in dialogue with broader diasporic conversations, while calling to mind the work of Black artists in the art-historical canon.
Artists: Karina Griffith, Abdi Osman, Racquel Rowe, Wayne Salmon
Group Exhibition | Joy. Sorrow. Anger. Love. PRIDE
Joy. Sorrow. Anger. Love. PRIDE is Toronto Pride’s first exhibition and publication, to be launched in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of The ArQuives—Canada’s only LGBTQ2+ archive with a national scope. The exhibition and publication will be amplified through curators’ talks and panel discussions and will feature enlarged archival photographs, print media, and ephemera carefully selected from among the ArQuives’ holdings and from a public call for submissions. Focused on Toronto Pride from 1970 to the present day, this comprehensive research project will kick off the 2023 Pride Season. Presented by The Magenta Foundation in partnership with The ArQuives: Canada's LGBTQ2+ Archives, and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
In 2023, the long-awaited CONTACT Photobook Fair makes its return, hosting independent publishers and leading contemporary photographers, designers, and artists from around the world, offering renowned titles and recent releases, and featuring the most compelling Canadian and international photobooks of our time. Hosted at Stephen Bulger Gallery April 29–30, this unique event fosters opportunities for enthusiasts to build connections, discover new projects, and exchange ideas on books and photography.
About Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
CONTACT fosters and celebrates the art and profession of photography with its annual Festival across greater Toronto in May and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery. CONTACT presents lens-based works by acclaimed and emerging artists, documentary photographers, and photojournalists from Canada and around the world. The curated program of Core Exhibitions and site-specific Core Outdoor Installations featuring works by local and international artists, presented in collaboration with major museums, galleries, and artist-run centers, are the heart of the Festival. These are cultivated through partnerships, commissions, and new discoveries, framing the cultural, social, and political events of our times. CONTACT presents a wide range of programs including a book fair, lectures, talks, panels, workshops, and symposia during the Festival. Please check the CONTACT website for updates.
CONTACT, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1997, is generously supported by its title sponsor Scotiabank, and Scotia Wealth Management, as well as 3M Canada, Beyond Digital Imaging, BIG Digital, Four By Eight Signs, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, Toronto Image Works, The Gilder, Transcontinental PLM, and Waddington's Auctioneers and Appraisers.