At this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, three shows will change how you see the world… and the city
The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival has always been about more than pretty pictures.
The largest festival of its kind in the world, CONTACT puts on display ground-breaking and thought-provoking work by more than 1,500 Canadian and international artists, showing in more than 200 venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Featuring both established and emerging artists, the festival allows viewers to see the world through many different lenses.
The 23rd edition will be on display in major art institutions, in galleries, on billboards and even across the sides of buildings, bringing inspiring, relevant and memorable work to the city between May 1 and May 31.
Here are three headlining exhibitions everyone must see at this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
Scotiabank Photography Award: Moyra Davey
Putting together the career-spanning exhibition and Steidl book publication that come with winning the 2018 Scotiabank Photography Award has helped artist Moyra Davey see her own work in a new light. “You notice things you wouldn’t have noticed, when you do a show like this, when you juxtapose works that were made at different times of your career,” says Davey. Born in Toronto, Davey has lived in New York City for decades, working as a photographer, filmmaker and writer. The idea of chance or happenstance has been a key through line of her art. “A lot of it happens through reading. You read one thing and it leads to another, and you make connections between text and the events in your life,” she says. Davey will often point her lens at what might be considered mundane, like dusty books in her apartment or a series of worn and tarnished pennies, shot in extreme closeup. Working with analog film, she’ll digitalize images and then experiment with the material object of the photos themselves. In one of her best-known projects, she printed images on poster-sized pieces of paper, folded them, addressed them to galleries and sealed them with squares of brightly coloured tape before mailing them—viewers can see the marks of handling by the postal service in the photos on the gallery wall. The Scotiabank Photography Award, its $50,000 prize and the book publication come at an important phase of Davey’s career. “It definitely did change my life,” she says. “I feel everything coming full circle.”
The solo exhibition Scotiabank Photography Award: Moyra Davey is a primary exhibition at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. It runs May 1–August 4 at the Ryerson Image Centre (33 Gould Street, Toronto). Free admission.
New Generation Photography Award
The New Generation Photography Award for Canadian lens-based artists under the age of 30, presented by Scotiabank in partnership with the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, showcases the three 2019 winners in a group show at the Gladstone Hotel during the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Each winner receives a prize of $10,000 as well as group exhibitions during the Festival and at the National Gallery of Canada.
Born in Ghana, and living and working on Treaty One Territory in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Luther Konadu photographs mainly friends and acquaintances. His images of racialized bodies might seem casual, but Konadu will shoot the same people repeatedly, making viewers slow down and think more deeply about what they’re seeing.
Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, and currently based in Toronto, Ethan Murphy often focuses his attention on neglected and abandoned spaces, particularly in the rural environment, but also on the city where he’s been working and studying the last few years. His beautifully composed photos suggest absence, loss and the passage of time.
Based in both Montreal and Toronto, Zinnia Naqvi uses photography, video, writing, archival material and multimedia installations to address themes of post-colonialism, cultural translation, language and gender. In a series based on family photos, she recreates poses, drawing parallels between the past and present. In addition to the New Generation group exhibition, her piece “Yours to Discover” will be presented on the façade of the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives (PAMA) in Brampton during the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
The New Generation Photography Award group exhibition runs May 1–June 9 at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West, Toronto). Free admission. The opening reception is open to the public and takes place May 2, from 7pm to 10pm at the Gladstone Hotel.
Launched in 2017, the #ScotiaGallery is built around the idea that everyone has the capacity to make art—sharing new perspectives and new ways of seeing the world. This third edition will transform Toronto itself into a city-wide photography gallery. Each Friday and Saturday from May 3 to May 31, sundown to sunrise, projectors will use the night as a screen to display the works.
The projected images will evolve from week to week and will be drawn from photography submissions from across the country. Canadians and art enthusiasts who tag their Instagram photos #ScotiaGallery will be included in the show. Each photo will be displayed with their Instagram username handle.
“The arts enrich the communities where we live and encourage us to develop new perspectives and this year, through #ScotiaGallery, we’re celebrating the creativity of in all of us,” says Gallant Law, Director of Sponsorship at Scotiabank. “Every Friday and Saturday at sunset during the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, select images posted to Instagram with the hashtag #ScotiaGallery will be projected in locations across Toronto. By celebrating the arts, Scotiabank aims to inspire Canadians to see the world in a different light and find their own hidden talents.”
#ScotiaGallery runs Fridays and Saturdays after dark May 3–May 31 using projections in neighbourhoods across Toronto, including Queen St. W and Ossington Ave., Richmond St. W and Portland St., Dundas St. W and Bay St., and Front St. W and Yonge St. Use #ScotiaGallery on Instagram to share photos and participate. Profiles must be public.
For more information, please visit www.scotiabank.com/arts.