I want – I got goes to the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival – Behind the Lens Tour

I went on the Heineken Behind the Lens Tour which is a guided tour of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival exhibits. It was a fun way to see more exhibits at the festival in a group setting.

Join us each Saturday afternoon in May for the Heineken Behind the Lens Tour, an exclusive interactive tour of Scotiabank CONTACT. Go behind the scenes with top photographers and other culture mavens as they share curated insights on fascinating photography from an insider’s vantage point. Each tour, located in one of Toronto’s unique neighborhoods, will end at a local watering hole for discussion, snacks and the opportunity to enjoy a cold Heineken.

I chose the City Centre tour which took us to the AGO for Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (It), U of Toronto Arts Centre for The Brothel Without Walls and Probing McLuhan, the ROM for Creative Commons and the Boss Store for Glen Baxter.

Heineken Behind The Lens  -  Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2010Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (It)
At this stop in the tour we had one of the curators talk about various aspects of the installation. This piece covered the entire length of the façade. It’s the first time the façade has housed an installation. It’s a combination of words and images using her signature font and stock images chosen from her personal library. It’s slightly ambiguous where you ponder what this “IT” is. You also wonder which words accompany the photos. It looks like advertising, which is deliberate in order to get people thinking. We were told it’s one of the biggest pieces she’s created. We also learned a bit about the installation. It’s vinyl attached to glass and took 10 days to install. Check out this Barbara Kruger Installation Video on the AGO Art Matters blog.

Art Gallery of Ontario
May 1–August 30, 2010 (This goes till August so there is plenty of time to see it)
317 Dundas St W
Toronto

Heineken Behind The Lens  -  Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2010Probing McLuhan

As CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival recognizes the influence of Marshall McLuhan on the 30th anniversary of his death, this biographical exhibition hosted at the University of Toronto’s Art Centre’s art lounge supports the adjoining The Brothel Without Walls exhibition by examining Marshall McLuhan’s life and thought in relation to photography. Utilizing archival material, this exhibit looks at McLuhan’s reflections on the photographic medium, while examining representations of this influential scholar in art and media.(source)

Probing McLuhan was in the lounge area of the University of Toronto’s Art Centre. It felt like a museum display and I didn’t think it was part of Scotiabank CONTACT for some reason. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend much time taking in all the information from it.


Heineken Behind The Lens  -  Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2010

The Brothel Without Walls
The Brothel Without Walls was a group exhibition featuring Susan Anderson, Evan Baden, Douglas Coupland, Jessica Dimmock, Marina Gadonneix, Clunie Reid, Stefan Ruiz, Joachim Schmid and Christopher Wahl. It was the most disturbing of all exhibits I’ve been too. It’s a definite must see in my book! There were many photos that produced strong reactions from me. They were wonder or unease.

The exhibition title is derived from McLuhan who in 1964 wrote of the photograph as “The Brothel without Walls”. McLuhan described photographs as “dreams that money can buy” which could be “hugged and thumbed more easily than public prostitutes.” Co-curators, UTAC’s Matt Brower and Scotiabank CONTACT’s Artistic Director, Bonnie Rubenstein have brought together 9 Canadian and international photographers whose works give form to McLuhan’s concepts helping us to grasp the cultural role of photography, not in isolation, but in relation to our general media culture, and more specifically television and the internet.(source)

Evan Baden’s Technically Intimate series of photographs is a look at teens and internet pornography. Evan recreated the scenes of young women making taking photos and using webcams to show them having sex or showing off their boxes. The room settings in the photos clearly evoke the world of a young teen girl with lots of pink, stuff animals and posters of Britney Spears.

Susan Anderson photographs child beauty pageants in the U.S. This exhibit featured images of young pageant girls that were taken before or after the competition. The photos included the ages of the models. It was very disturbing and creepy looking at these doll-like children. They didn’t seem human. Well, that’s not completely true, the girls that looked clearly pissed off looked human. That was about the only amusing thing about the photos.I don’t understand the obsession with pink frosted lipstick and these kids. All the clothing was sequined and blingly to the hilt. My sense of general unease for the photos increased when I discovered that the girls were not posed by Susan. They chose the poses themselves.

Jessica Dimmock’s brilliant series of photos turns the camera on the Paparazzi. She makes the hunters the hunted and documents their strange habits and relentless stalking. I love that each photos includes the name of the actors each paparazzi was stalking when the photo was taken.

Heineken Behind The Lens  -  Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2010

Stefan Ruiz’s Factory of Dreams is a series of photographs taken at the Televisa Studios in Mexico City. This is where many Spanish language soap operas are created. This series takes a look at the show Amarte es mi pecado (Loving you is my sin). The photos are fascinating. I’ve never seen a television studio and didn’t realize the scale and complexity of it all.

Heineken Behind The Lens  -  Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2010

University of Toronto Art Centre
May 1–31, 2010
15 King’s College Circle, Main floor of Laidlaw Wing
Toronto
Creative Commons

Heineken Behind The Lens  -  Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2010

Guillaume Cailleau’s Creative Commons grouped a bunch of television sets together in the Spirit House at the ROM. The TVs displayed flickr rotating images of the ROM from a small group of amateur photographers with photos licensed with the Creative Commons. That allows someone to share, copy, distribute and transmit the images. Each television focused on a specific aspect of the ROM like the exterior, a dome ceiling or a window. The users were given credit for the contribution. This exhibit immediately made wonder if any of my photos were used.
Royal Ontario Museum – Spirit House (No charge to see the exhibit)
May 1–31, 2010
100 Queen’s Park
Toronto

I covered Glen Baxter’s exhibit before you can read it at I want – I got goes to the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival – Right To Play – Azerbaijan, 2009.

Heineken Behind The Lens  -  Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2010

The trip ended up at Hemmingway’s in Yorkville for some cold Heineken.

There is still two weekends to go before the end of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Plenty of time to get out and see some art.

Disclosure: This one is a series of posts about the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. The organizers have asked me to share my experiences at the exhibits with you and get the word out about this event in exchange for fee. The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival runs from May 1 – 31, 2010

CONTACT is an annual month long festival of photography with over 1000 local, national and international artists at more than 200 venues across the Greater Toronto Area in May. Founded as a not-for-profit organization 14 years ago, CONTACT is devoted to celebrating, and fostering an appreciation of the art and profession of photography. As the largest photography event in the world, and a premiere cultural event in Toronto, CONTACT stimulates excitement and discussion among a diverse audience that has grown to over 1.5 million and is focused on cultivating even greater interest and participation this year.(source)

By Anita Clarke

Anita Clarke is an Engineering Storyteller and the founder of the fashion blog “I want – I got.” She was one of the first and most prominent online fashion writers in Toronto and Canada.