Thursday, May 10, 2007

Contact Photo Fest 2007

I managed to see these exhibits today before heat and tiredness told me
to go home and rest.

(Canada Chronicles continued ...)

Today after the pre-production meeting I went looking for venues which were hosting Contact 2007 (Toronto Photography Festival; May 1 - 31). According to the little 'Contact' map which I picked up at Campbell House Museum, there are 202 photo exhibits/installations all over the city. I guess it's possible to see all in the month if you do about 7 a day, every day.

I'm no art critic, so here's my simple take on it.

At Campbell House Museum (#33 on map): Ooops. Can't remember the photographer's full name. Pat is his/her first name. These photos, mainly natural landscapes, did not grip me and make me say "Wow" ... but they were pleasing to the eye and seemed to come from an emotive place. The one that stood out for me was entitled: "Let the Water Rush In" ... a somewhat haunting, moody shot of seawater rushing through a dark arch of rock. It was beautiful yet overwhelming ... I suppose because, as I stood before it, I felt that the volumes of water were rushing into me ... or out.

At Prime Gallery: ILLUMINATIONS II (#146 on map): This exhibit featured a range of photo-based work. The series that grabbed me most had no signature on it. Simple, understated but direct and powerful. The images featured letters, made from ice, spelling phrases that spoke of a relationship that had ended. The fact that the ice sentiments were melting said a lot about the changing of form of 'a relationship':
IT'S OVER (can't remember where this phrase was positioned in the shot)
I NEVER LOVED YOU (these words melting into reddish brown bedsheets)
LET IT GO (I think this was on a white tile surface? Bathroom?)
I AM NOT MAD (I think these were melting near a window sill)
XXXXXX (can't remember that phrase, but it was melting on a table near to a yellow lemon and an empty glass. Maybe it was the LET IT GO one).
I found it interesting that there was no signature ... as though the photographer had distanced him/herself even from the work. Were the sentiments in ice what s/he had to say to the ex ... or vice versa?

At OCAD Student Gallery: HUMANIZE (#132 on map): Again, different photographic series by various photographers. Each series was provocative in its own way, but the one that stood out for me was Emily Meir's black & white documentation of social protests/marches re poverty. The pieces were horizontally long, with various protest images 'stitched' together - each montage incorporating a portion of a handwritten message (I assume written by different protesters) and a blurred image of a single individual, which I found brought the 'punctuation' of a specific individual to an otherwise 'crowd shot' type feel. The overall effect (to me) was simple, honest and emotive. I appreciated her work as a voice for the 'voiceless' and a message to an audience that may not otherwise have come into contact with this other reality.

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