The world’s largest photography festival is back!
More than 1 million photo fanatics are expected at this year's Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival taking place now. The Festival features more than 1,500 artists displaying their work in 200 exhibitions in galleries and museums across the Greater Toronto Area.
The theme of this year’s event is identity, with some exhibitions examining Canadian and geographical identity.
“The great thing about CONTACT is there’s something for everybody,” says Darcy Killeen, Executive Director of the Festival. “You just get lost in it.”
Killeen says that the exhibits range from open exhibitions that allow young artists to display their work to primary exhibitions in larger museums featuring internationally-acclaimed photographers.
“The one differentiating point in CONTACT is it’s fairly rooted in democracy,” he says. “We allow anybody to be part of the festival.”
One of the primary exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario is Scott McFarland: Snow, Shacks, Streets, Shrubs. This Canadian artist's work showcases more than 40 pieces depicting both urban and rural settings, including some from Ontario. His photos are constructed from several images, taken at different times under various conditions.
Many exhibitions are already open, but photo enthusiasts can still attend some of the openings that are continuing this month, such as the False Fronts exhibition opening tonight at the Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art. Through photos of the facades in front of Newfoundland buildings, photographer Steve Payne examines the people, culture and history of that province.
“There are 200 openings where you can come out, enjoy a nice glass of wine, and see the festival for free,” Killeen says.
Most of the exhibitions are also free, though three major galleries require payment.
One show worth the price of entry is Arctic Exposure: Photographs of Canada’s North at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Featuring photos taken between 1881 and 2013, the focus is on northern identity, with images from various photographers, including Jimmy Manning, a Canadian First Nations artist. The people, places and traditions shown in the exhibition give a sense of a place that few Canadians ever get to see.
Another exhibition, which Killeen describes as very powerful and emotional, is The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus. While the world has seen Sochi in all its Olympic glory, photographer Rob Hornstra and journalist Arnold van Bruggen document the social change taking place in the area in the five years before the Games.
For photographers who want to improve their craft, there are workshops on flash photography, black and white photography, shooting video with DSLR and using the right lens.
Several photographers will also be sharing their experiences, including Canadian Geographic-published photographer Michelle Valberg, who will provide tips for capturing images in extreme conditions on May 14.
“We feel that education is at the backbone of everything we do,” Killeen says.
Many of the photography exhibits close around the end of May, but some will continue to run through the summer. Check the Festival’s website for more details.
Bay Roberts, from False Fronts (2010)(Photo: Steve Payne). Click on the above image to see a slideshow of photos from the CONTACT Photography Festival exhibits.