Palimpsest.  I had to look up the word too.  No, it’s not the superlative form of palimps.  As it turns out, palimsest has to do with surfaces that have been reused or altered while still retaining traces of its earlier form.

What does it have to do with this blog post?  It is the name of an exhibit of photos by a Poland-based collective, Sputnik Photos.  Between 2008 and 2016 this group compiled their ‘Lost Territories Archive‘; this is a project that documents the “physical, political, and sociocultural” aspects of the former Soviet republics.  Some of the thousands of images that they collected are on display in the Allan Lambert Galleria at Brookfield Place as part of this year’s CONTACT Photography Festival. It is on view for the month of May.

people in Allan Lambert Galleria, a couple of large photos, a workman on a crane,

below: “A sculptural model in a student atelier, Spitak Armenia, 2014”.

large picture of an old white statue, Brookfield Place, 2 men looking at it. Photo's title is A sculptural model in a student atelier, Spitak Armenia

below: “Cafeteria at the Heydar Aliev Centre, Gobustan Azerbijan, 2016”.   In 2013, to mark the 10th anniversary of the former president of Azerbijan, Heydar Aliyev, his son and successor, Ilham Aliyev, ordered the country’s 70 district capitals to each build a monumental centre named after his father.

people walking past a large photo in Allan Lambert Galleria at Brookfield Place. Photo by Sputnik Photos, title is Cafeteria at the Heydar Aliev Centre, Gobustan Azerbijan,

below: “Semipalatynsk Nuclear Test Site, Kazakhstan, 2016”.  The Soviet Union conducted over 400 nuclear tests at this site in northeast Kazakhstan between 1949 and 1989.  The impact of radiation exposure was hidden by Soviet authorities and didn’t become known until the site closed in 1991.

a couple walk past a large picture, small reddih mounds of dirt on a barren grassy field, flat land, no trees or other plants

 below: ‘Homemade construction for growing grapes, Yerevan Armenia, 2013’.  Urban farming was popular during the post-Soviet crisis in the 1990’s.  Today grapes are grown in every neighbourhood using homemade constructions for supporting the vines.

a large picture on display in Allan Lambert Galleria of a homemade structure to hold up grape vines in a back yard in Yerevan Armenia

below: “Anaklia Georgia, 2013”  Anaklia is a village on the Black Sea.  In 2011, Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, announced a program to transform the village into a luxury resort.  Construction began in 2012.  Saakashvili’s party lost the parliamentary elections in 2013 and he fled the country.  Work on this project was discontinued.

large photo of a oval shaped structure on the top of a tower, on the coast, surrounded by barren land, abandoned building, in Anaklia Georgia (former USSR republic)

below: “Slutsk Belarus, 2013”.  This image is of ‘Cultural Space’, an installation in the sugar factory Saharny Zavod.  The factory was given an award for best ideological work in a contest organized by a regional committee for ‘admiration structures’.

two large photos on exhibit, with a woman standing in front of one of them.

Members of Sputnik Photos: Andrej Balco, Jan Brykczynski, Andrei Liankevich, Michal Luczak, Rafal Milach, Adam Panczuk, and Agnieszka Rayss.

***

More about the word palimpsest:

In Ancient Greek, it was παλίμψηστος (palímpsēstos) and in Latin it was palimpsestus meaning “scraped clean and ready to be used again”.  It was originally applied to wax covered tablets that the ancient Greeks and Romans used to “write” on by scratching out the letters with a stylus.  Smoothing the wax would erase the words.   Around the 6th century vellum, or parchment prepared from animal skins, became more commonly used.  It was expensive.  Early on, writing on parchment could be washed away using milk and oat bran but over time it would come back, but faintly.   In the later Middle Ages, writing was removed with powdered pumice which was more permanent.

Along with the historical definition, palimpsest has a more modern definition.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives this newer meaning as, “something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface”  while the Cambridge English Dictionary uses these words, “something such as work of art that has many levels of meaning, types of style, etc. that build on each other.”

Now showing at the Onsite Gallery, is an exhibit of photography by T.M. Glass called “The Audible Language of Flowers”.  Glass’s work is inspired by 17th and 18th century northern European still life flower paintings.

below: On the back wall is  “Clematis in a Chinese Teapot”, 2017 (The teapot is from the Gardiner Museum).   The photograph on the right (with the red flowers) uses a vase from the Royal Ontario Museum, “Tulips in a Persian Vessel”, 2017.

people sitting on a bench in a gallery, reading, large photos of flower bouquets on the walls around them

But they are not just large photographs.   They have been enhanced in a process that has become known as digital painting.  This technique involves enlarging the image to the pixel level.   Attributes such as sharpness, colour and vibrance are then manipulated  giving the finished image more of a painted look.

below: Part of “Anemone Canadensis in an Italian Pharmaceutical Vessel”, 2017 (The ‘vase’ is from the Royal Ontario Museum). 

white flowers and greenery in a vase with a picture of a young man on it, part of a larger photograph by T.M. Glass in a gallery

below: Close up of some of the flowers in one of the photographs where you can see the “brush strokes”.

close up of photo of a red flower and a white flower that has been manipulated using digital painting techniques

below: Glass has also been experimenting with 3D printing.  On display are some sandstone and resin sculptures that were created from digital files, including these two.

2 white 3 D printed sculptures of flowers in a vase, in a gallery, with large pictures, in colour, of bouquets of flowers in vases on tables

The exhibit continues until August 18th.
Onsite Gallery is part of OCADU and is at 199 Richmond St. West.
This exhibit is part of the CONTACT Photography Festival.

picture of a blue vase with red and white flowers, framed on a gallerywall, reflections of other pictures in the glass, black background

The merging of events, the overlap of months.
At the Distillery District, many features were made yellow in April in honour of cancer awareness month.

the heart at the Parliament street side of the Distillery District that is usually red has been made yellow

Towards the end of that month, some large pictures began appearing on the brick walls.  An early installation for CONTACT month, May, these are Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart’s  “Good Stuff Bad Stuff” which is a series of conceptual photographs attached to the exterior walls of some of the buildings.

From the CONTACT website:  “a series of bizarre self-portraits that connect concepts of home and identity. The artist’s own grungy apartment and various public spaces serve as the backdrop to the photo series. Using physical experiences and found objects, the photographs in this exhibition explore the relationship between ourselves and the personal objects we buy, inherit, and throw away.”

picture on a wall at the Distillery District

below: I’m not sure that a candle on one’s head ‘explores’ anything… but maybe I was missing something?

a woman's head with a lit candle on it, melted wax has run down her face and hair, bright orange wall in the background.

And so we go off on a bit of a google tangent to see what there is for ‘candle, head’.  I find candles as a Christian symbol for light in the darkness.  There is also an image of a black man with a real lit candle on his head with melting wax running down his forehead, lit by his pastor “to deliver him from the spirit of homosexuality”.  Searches also yield skulls as candle holders (or candle holders in skull shapes) used as a novelty item, or as method of casting spells if you believe in such things.   And last, Tim Burton made a music video for “The Killers” (a group) where at the end, two people are sitting across from each other at a table, both with a lit candle on their head.  In this last case there is melding of reality and fantasy as one character is a wax figure that occasionally comes to life.   Whether this has anything to do with the image above, I have no idea.   But I’m sure that my ramblings, although entertaining (ha!) are probably just a detour.

below: Hope floats. One of the photographs on a wall surrounded by “graffiti” ( of the fake kind).  No candles here?  It’s the paper boats that are burning.  If there were candles, they are long gone.

a head partially submerged in water, surrounded by little white trays with flames

 

below: More yellow

the four legs of the large spider-like sculpture at the Distillery District are yellow and the head part is wrapped with blue plastic

below: Another picture.  Flowers and hands.

a large poster attached to brick wall, outside, hands coming out of a large bush with purple flowers on it.

below: More picture.  This time an ode to junk food and trashiness by the looks of it.  The lion is blue but unmoved.  With a fast food paper crown on her head and a cigarette in her mouth.  Garbage randomly strewn but carefully placed so there is no product placement.

picture on a stone wall, blue tones, lion sculpture, sitting beside flight of stairs, woman leaning against lion, cigarette in her mouth, food in the other hand, garbage strewn on the stairs around her feet

below: The last bit of yellow for today.

distillery district, love sign for locks, the heart has been decorated with a lot of yellow flowers

fake yellow flowers placed by some locks

below: And one last photograph to give you some ideas of what to do with the photos of Venice that you might have, you know, the ones that look like everyone else’s.   There are many more on display at the Distillery District.   As I type this I am warming up to the pictures but I am still torn.   Does anyone want to offer an opinion?

large photo on a brick wall, taken by a canal in Venice, of a woman covered from head to toe in black weeds as she stands beside the canal

Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart is on Instagram

I’m not sure what the allure of the cherry (aka sakura) blossoms is.  Has it become a symbol of spring and who doesn’t like the long awaited end of winter?  Is there something special about the cherry flower?  Or is it more ‘exotic’ than the magnolia that flowers about the same time, or a bit earlier?  Why not celebrate the lilac trees?  Or other trees that blossom in the spring?

below: A couple of cherry blossoms along with some buds and partially opened flowers.

sakura cherry blossoms on a cherry tree along with some pinkish coloured buds, white petals and yellow centers.

Although there are a number of places around the city to see sakura trees (14 I think), High Park seems to be the most popular place.  True, they have the oldest trees and the most trees planted in one area.   It has become the site of an annual pilgrimage by thousands of people to see the blossoms.   Even though the ‘sakura watch’ website said that ‘peak’ blossom hadn’t yet arrived, I decided to check out High Park yesterday.

below: Lots of signs to direct pedestrian traffic to the cherry trees.  The roads were closed to most cars.

pink sign on the grass by the entrance to High Park that says Please keep of the bloomin' trees.

large trees in the park, people walking on the path on the other side of the trees, green grass, shadows, some blossoms on a couple of the trees

below: There were a couple of school groups there for the morning. Although there weren’t too many blossoms to see, it was a beautiful spring morning and many of the kids were making the most of it.

three girls have a crab walk race down a small hill

a black person walks a dog on a leash up a hill on a paved path through HIgh Park, other people are behind. Some pink and white flowers are starting to grow on the trees

below: An Instagram moment I suspect.

an Asian woman with a bright pink handbag holds a branch of a cherry tree in front of her face while another woman takes her picture with a phone.

people enjoying a day in the park, some taking pictures of cherry blossoms

below: An engagement photo shoot

an engagement photo shoot at high park, man on his knee presenting a woman in a bluish green dress a box that presumably has a ring in it. Another man is holding a stand with a large light on it.

Yesterday there were many more buds and partially opened flowers than there were blossoms.  By the weekend, there will probably be a profusion of white petals… as well as a swarming of people.  I had to search for flowers to take pictures of but at least it was a relatively quiet and peaceful morning.

sakura cherry blossoms

the back of a man whose baseball cap says Toronto on the back and his black jacket says Ontario on the back

May Day, the 1st of May.  In some countries it is International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day, and is often a holiday (similar to the first Monday in September that is celebrated as Labour Day in Canada and the USA).   This May 1st there was a protest in front of Queen’s Park to protest some of the recent policies announced by Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his provincial Conservative party.

 

below: UnaFORDable DOUG and CONservative CONS

people carrying protest signs at a rally

below: Cheering for a clownish Doug Ford as premier, the first clown we’ve had.

a man in an orange wig and clown costume holds a sign on pink bristol board that says Hooray! Our first clown premier

below: Let them drink beer.  Doug Ford as Marie Antoinette (how did he fit into the dress?!)

a woman holds up a sign at a protest that says let them drink beer. with a picture of Doug Ford as Marie Antoinette

below: …. and at Rock bottom prices folks!

at a Queens Park demonstration on May day, a woman holds a red and white for sale sign with the word Ontario written in the blank, for sale Ontario

below: Oink oink, Ford with a pink snout

three people at a protest in Toronto, woman on right is yelling, man on left has a camera on a tripod and man in middle is holding a sign with a picture of Doug Ford's face with a pig snout that says Our futures are not yours to fuck with, greedypig, #greedypig

below: Signs.  “You know it’s time for change when children act like leaders and leaders act like children.”

a few people with home made placards at an anti-Ford May day protest

below: A poop emoji makes an entrance

a person holds up a sign that is a drawing of Doug Ford's head with a poop emoji on top of his head

below: That’s a good reason to revolt!

a woman in a blue coat and black beret holds a sign that says We're having a revolt because the PC's are so revolting

below: Rapping to the crowd

a young black man is performing a rap song in front of a crowd at a protest

below: Bees and trees not sleaze….and some important facts about mental health and youths in the province.

protest signs at a rally including one that says Bees and trees not sleaze

below: You have been warned!  Beware! Killing two birds with one stone,  Entrepreneurs at TugaDoug.com advertize their product while protesting.  Follow the link to order yours for $19.95

Warning! Beware of Doug says a sign, with picture of Doug Ford on it. Another sign says My pug would make a better premier

below:  Standing near the front of the crowd were these three people with their three different issues –   For Ontario’s Rich Developers,  concern for trees (cancellation of the tree planting initiative), and the threats to health care.

three people at a protest, a woman in an orange coat holding a sign that says I speak for the trees, a man in a yellow jacket with a sign that says Don't take away our health care. and a younger woman with two signs, one is a play on the word Ford so it says For Ontarios Rich Developers where the first letters of those 4 words are emphasized F O R D

below: “Give me the birds and the bees please.”

a woman holds a protest sign that says Give me the birds and the bees please

below: Books not beer

a woman holds a sign that says books not beer

below: “Let’s show our government that we refuse to regress.”

a group of artists with bright yellow and light green signs walks as a group towards a protest in front of Queens Park, the woman at the front also has a sign on a stick that says We refuse to regress

below: Get organized instead of panicking!

in the middle of a protest crowd, a woman holds up a sign that says Don't panic, organize

Maybe I’ll see you at the next protest?

I happened to visit Artscape Youngplace this afternoon just after their latest hallway gallery exhibits were hung.   Showing on both the second and third floors are images produced by the graduating class from Etobicoke School of the Arts contemporary photography course.  I tried to find information about the exhibit online but nothing about it was mentioned on the Artscape Youngplace website or on the Etobicoke School of the Arts website.  If you know of something that has appeared online since this afternoon (29th April) or something that I missed, please let me know.

This is a selection of the pictures on display.  Not all of the labels were up yet and some I didn’t get a clear picture of so my apologies to the photographers whose images that I haven’t credited here.  Also, there was no criteria for selecting these images over the many others also being exhibited.

below: The finishing touches

part of the third floor hallway gallery space at Artscape Youngplace with large colour photos tacked to the wall, a man on a ladder adjusts the lighting

below: By Owen Herlin.  “The Last Week of Summer” on top and “Making Memories” on the bottom.

two photographers by student photographers, horizontal, one on top of the other. The top image is of a skateboarder doing a jump, in three sections, same man but in different stages of the jump

MIDDLE: Why’d you bring me here and then leave. Friends that aren’t mine. Contacts I don’t have.  It’s all good but my time is too valuable right now and a lot of these interactions aren’t ( a lot not all). // writing with words in my head, overlaying over crowded memories that aren’t mine.  “I want more out of life than this”!
LEFT: “Summer. It’s the start of this again, songs that will remind me of these moments above all others again. :

 

below: In the middle, a photograph by Tomoka Taki.  It is flanked by two images by Julia Kerrigan called “Unnatural 1” and “Unnatural 2”.   The opening sentence in the description of Taki’s work is: “I attempt to bridge a gap in communication between myself and older generations within my family.”

three photographs hanging on a wall. On either side is a picture of a woman in a pose, on green grass outside by Julia Kerrigan. In the middle is a black statue, Asian lion, in front of a light pastel coloured circular pattern

below: By Meredith Tudor-Doonan

six images. On the bottom is one large black and white photo of a woman (no head shown) in a long white dress that looks like she's washed up on the beach, lying on her back, arms out streteched. upper level has 5 photos, on the sides are large brown and white images of men's head and shoulders, with eyes looking downward. In the middle of the top part are three snapshots of a person coming out of the lake after swimming

two photographers by student photographers, horizontal, one on top of the other. The top image is of a skateboarder doing a jump, in three sections, same man but in different stages of the jump

below: by Kaya Joubert Johnson

large white wall hanging with long black fringe on top and bottom. words on the wall hanging say Do Not Touch the art, a work by Kaya Joubert

a triptych, three photos, of a woman in an orange long sleeved top, long brown hair, black pants, in three different poses,

below: by Ethan Wilder, “Why complicate the physical world when I can do so in an imaginary one?”

black and white photos by Ethan Wilder

closest to the viewer is a portrait of a young woman sitting on a chair, leaning forward, very orange patterned wallpaper wall behind her

red circular sticker on a window, marking a gallery that is participating in contact photography festival

It’s almost May and that means that the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is just around the corner. Some of the participating galleries are already showing their CONTACT exhibits so I paid them a visit. Along the way, there were a couple of other galleries so I checked them out too.

below: Some artwork created by Chris Curreri is being exhibited at the Daniel Faria Gallery.    This ‘man’ stands alone in the corner, in fact he stands alone in the room.   It is called ‘Christopher’ and it is hand puppet, hollow and lifeless, and waiting for its ventriloquist.  ‘Ventriloquist’ is the name of the whole exhibit.

a mannequin top, of a bald man, on a frame with black loose fitting clothes, stands on a red carpets facing the corner, nothing else is in the room

below: There are some Curreri photographs on the walls and they are all of animal entrails….  a bit gruesome (and on the gallery website).  Exhibits lasts until the 1st of June.

three people stand in a large open gallery space, looking at a large red piece on the floor, two hands, and two feet, fill the four corners, and a black harness connects them through the center, a photo is on the wall beside them - it is of entrails. It is the work of Chris Curreri

below:  At the Clint Roenisch Gallery there are some paintings by Dorian Fitzgerald, some large and some very small.   I thought that I had more photos than these but, sorry, they will have to do.  The large one at the back is of fish swimming among coral.  The seven small pictures on the side wall are very detailed paintings in black and white.  Exhibit lasts until 18th May.

a large horizontal painting on a beige wall, of fish and coral in an aquarium, also some smaller paintings in black and white along the side wall

below: The wonderful work of Emmanuel Monzon hangs on the walls of the Robert Kananaj Gallery (but only until the 4th of May).

three paintings by Emmanuel Monzon on a wall in gallery, pictures of empty places, or where urban sprawl seems to take over deserted places

below: The quality of his photographs is much better than this!  The graininess of this photo is my fault.

a large frames photo on a wall of rock formation in Monument Valley USA with a stop sign in the foreground

below:  In a room at the Arsenal Contemporary Gallery is a display of Caroline Monnet’s work titled ‘A Whole Made of Many Parts’.  One wall is covered with this intricate black and white pattern.  In the middle is a video monitor showing kaleidoscope-like movements of more black and white patterns.

a wall covered with black and white pattern, a video monitor in the middle of a wall playing a video of more black and white patterns

below:  From the gallery website, “In a new series of ‘Fragment’ portraits, Monnet has developed individualized masks that overlay the faces of chosen subjects. Mixing facial features with geometric shapes, new identities are forged through abstraction and interference.” 

portrait of a man wearing a clear cube over his face. cube has black geometric drawings all over it so part of man's face is obscured

part of a monitor on a papered wall with a reflection in the monitor as well as an intricate pattern in blue

below: Sharing space with Arsenal, is the Division Gallery. At the moment, and until 8th June, they are featuring the work of Alex McLeod.  Division is aligned with Galerie Division in Montreal and they share the same website.

two pictures on a gallery wall by Alex McLeod. One is white shapes on turquoise and the other is pinks, oranges and yellows on blue like a landscape from above

below: McLeod’s work is colourful and playful.

two little lumpy statues, one blue and the other green, on a white podium, in the background are two photographs, one in reds and the other in brownish orange shades

below: This is from a video (which can be seen on McLeod’s website).  In my opinion, it was the highlight of the show.

ornate circular shapes like beads and flowers in shades of blue and purple on a black background, a video playing on a wall

below: “Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs” is one of the videos by Beatrice Gibson now playing at Mercer Union. A photograph doesn’t do it justice.

picture from a video, a woman's reflection in the side mirror of a car, long hair, long dangly ear rings

below: On display outside Mercer Union is, Joi T. Arcand’s “i was born with butter in my mouth” (2019). Arcand is from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan.

a poster on display on an exterior wall. Mercer Union Contemporary Art Gallery

Locations:
1. The following galleries are on St. Helens Ave – Daniel Faria, Clint Roenisch, and Robert Kananaj.    There is another gallery there, TPW, but it was closed because they are setting up their next exhibit (opening 4th May).
2. Mercer Union is on Bloor, just east of Lansdowne station
3. Arsenal Contemporary Gallery and Division Gallery share space on Ernest Avenue (close to West Toronto Railpath)

***

below: Playing with reflections.  ‘Christopher’ by Chris Curreri reflected by an interior window at Daniel Faria Gallery.

reflections in a window, vague shape of a man, blue background on top and orangey brown on the bottom

a red exit sign lights up a dark doorway, all red