Posts Tagged ‘Contact photography festival’

Each year the CONTACT Photography Festival spotlights a few artists.  This year, Carrie Mae Weems is one of them.  As I’ve walked around Toronto the past month I have tried to check out all the place where Weems’s work is on display.

below: On Spadina, just north of King is a large portrait of Mary J. Bilge (singer and actor) in red with the title “Anointed”.  In the photo, Bilge is being crowned by Weems.

a large red photo of a woman being crowned, sitting in profile, the word anointed is written in large letters on the picture. Mounted on the side of a red brick building

below: A small pink photo of a girl in the parking lot that is adjacent to the building where the above photo is mounted.  The marks on the girl’s face are problems with the display case, not with the photo.

a pink and black photo of a girl's head, on a small display in a parking lot, with a Huawei ad behind it. Ad features that head of a model

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below: At the Contact Gallery, 80 Spadina Avenue, part of ‘Blending the Blues’ which is collection of images from a few different projects that Weems has done over her thirty year career.  The picture shown here is “Untitled” 2017.

detailed picture of a woman sitting at a table with lots of things around her, on the table, behind her, and in front of the table, by Carrie mae Weems, the photo is only in blues and black

below: From ‘Blue Notes” 2014-2015 which involves blue toned images of people with coloured rectangles obscuring part of their faces.   The picture on the right is a copy of the Booking Sheet for Sandra Bland who was charged with assaulting a public servant (i.e. police officer) in July 2015.  She was died in police custody a three days later.

park of an exhibit in a gallery showing the picture of a black boy with a large red rectangle acros his face, beside it is an enlargement of the arrest record of a black man in Ferguson Missouri

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“Scenes and Take”, 2016, is composed of two large photos (“Director’s Cut” and “The Bad and the Beautiful” below) on the outside walls of the TIFF Bell Lightbox at the corner of King West and Widmer Streets.  Each photograph is accompanied by text which reads as a summary for movie.  For instance, the text for “The Bad and the Beautiful” starts as “The Plot: Bright and beautiful, a young would-be starlet in Hollywood seeking fame and fortune.  Along the way, she encounters erroneous assumptions, bad luck, and dangerous men.”

large photo on a wall outside, of a woman in a long black dress, back to camera, one hand on door sill as she stands in open doorway, by Carrie Mae Weems

The photos are of Weems as a muse, or the embodiment of the black female gaze.  She places herself on the set of ‘Scandal’, a series created by Shonda Rhimes and starring Kerry Washington.

two large photos mounted on two walls that meet at the corner of King West and Widmer, two people walking them including a woman in a head scarf

‘Slow Fade to Black’, 2010,  is a series of large posters on King Street West near Metro Hall – black performers slowly fading from fame and memory.   They address the representation of Black women in popular culture

series of large panel photos by Carrie Mae Weems, Slow Fade to Black, each photo is a person or a face that is blurry, done with one colour on black

‘Slow Fade to Black’ was also the name of a book subtitled, the Negro in American Film 1900-1942 written by Thomas Cripps and published in 1977.

two men walk past two large photos on King Street, Slow Fade to Black photo by Carrie Mae Weems, one is blue and black and the other is burgundy and black

Performers, all black women, portrayed in this series: Katherine Dunham, Koko Taylor, Eartha Kitt, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington (twice), Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Josephine Baker (twice), Mahalia Jackson, Leontyne Price, and Nina Simone.

people sitting in a streetcar with their back to the window, can see large photo on exhibit on opposite sidewalk through the windows of the streetcar

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And last, at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (the Art Museum at the University of Toronto), is ‘Heave’.  From the gallery’s website, “multi-part installation Heave combines photography, video, news media sampling, as well as ephemera to probe the devastating effects of violence in our life and time. The complex installation explores the spectacle of violence in our contemporary lives relocating this present within sustained histories of conflict and uprising.”

a collection of pictures on the wall and Life magazines on a table, part of Heave, an exhibit by Carrie Mae Weems at University of Toronto art museum and gallery

living room furniture arrangement as part of a gallery exhibit, heave, by carrie Mae Weems

4 people watching a video on a large screen, one person is standing while 3 people are sitting on a bench with their backs to the camera

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.

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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

Tucked away in part of the old Lever Brothers (then Unilever) soap factory there is a small exhibit now showing.

below: Follow the yellow caution tape to find the installation…..

yellow caution tape marks a path through an old industrial space, sign on a post that says Danger no pedestrian traffic.

below: This is the sight that greets you when you first walk into the room…..   A large industrial sized funnel left behind when the factory was decommissioned dominates the room.  A few figures stand on the other side of it.

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - three of them stand around a net on a circular frame, a large industrial funnel above them.

below: Moving closer.  Above the figures is a bubble making machine – how appropriate for a soap factory!

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls

As it turns out, these figures – mannequins or automatons – were originally made back in the 1980’s as props for the Wilderness Adventure Ride at Ontario Place.  When Ontario Place closed, these guys were abandoned.

below: He looks very intent on something. .. like destroying my camera if he could.

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - solitary man with half an arm missing, staring straight ahead, beside a net to catch soap, a large soap bubble dropping from above him

Toronto artist Max Dean rescued their remains, cleaned them up and brought them back to life.

below: … and into the 21st century.  Playing Candy Crush to pass the time? Or checking his Tinder messages?

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - sitting on a stool with a phone in one hand, a real woman behind him with a phone in her hand taking a picture

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - an older man standing on the stairs and looking down

mannequin automatons as part of an art installation in the old Unilever soap factory, concrete floor and walls - the likeness of Andy Warhol, white hair, glasses on head, hand up, finger pointing

The Unilever factory site is now owned by First Gulf (a development company). Access is at 21 Don Roadway which also the DVP ramp from the Lakeshore. There is parking. Getting there by public transit is not easy as there is no access directly from the north (the railway tracks & DVP are in the way).

 

“Still Moving” continues until the 3rd of June.

I was away for most of the month of May so I missed a lot of the annual Contact Photography Festival.  In the few days that I had to catch up, I visited a few of the exhibits.  One of these was ‘Nous ne somme pas des heros’ (We are not heroes) by Valerie Blass at the Allen Lambert Galleria in Brookfield Place.

two large cubes constructed from pieces of photos of different people in different positions sit in the middle of Brookfield Place, under the glass arched roof.

Blass arranged people in sculpture-like poses and then photographed them from different angles.  The photographs were then cut into sections, glued on blocks,  and then the ‘sculptures’ were re-assembled.

a large stack of blocks with black and white photos of people on them by Valerie Blass.

The subjects of the sculptures are anonymous.  Their “bodies fold inward, their differences intertwine and merge into single entities” (source).

photographs of the back of a person with another person sitting on his shoulders, upper person is leaning forward with head down, the blocks on which the photos are printed are in the walkway at Brookfield Place

bottom part of photos by Valerie Blass on a block at Brookfield Place as part of Scotiabank Contact photography festival, feet. Also the feet of people walking past.