Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival Announces Public Installation Artists of 2020

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Today Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, the esteemed annual presentation of lens-based art, today announced its curated program of Public Installations for the 24th edition of the city-wide event. Throughout the month of May 2020, a number of this year’s Public Installations will address the artists’ roles in building awareness, stimulating dialogue, and fostering engagement concerning a range of environmental issues. Other installations feature artists exploring the interconnectedness and implications of body, identity, site, and history.

A selection of North American and international lens-based artists will present a diverse array of ­installations to activate public spaces throughout Toronto and in eight cities across Canada. Artists include: Alberto Giuliani, Kim Hoeckele, Vid Ingelevics & Ryan Walker, Aaron Jones, Ebti Nabag, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Dawit L. Petros Thirza Schaap, Małgorzata Stankiewicz, Greg Staats, Elizabeth Zvonar, and others to be announced. Venues include billboards, Toronto’s Osgoode subway station, Metro Hall, and more, as well as new locations including Todmorden Mills Heritage Site, the Toronto Port Lands, Malvern Public Library, and Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, expanding CONTACT’s engagement across the greater Toronto area. CONTACT is collaborating with guest curators on a number of these projects, including Chloe Catan. Anique Jordan, Sara Knelman, and Philip Monk.  

Internationally celebrated artists who have participated in CONTACT’s Public Installations program previously include Ilit Azoulay, Rebecca Belmore, Douglas Coupland, Awol Erizku, Barbara Kruger, Robert Longo, Kent Monkman, Martin Parr, Mickalene Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems. The Festival’s Artistic Director Bonnie Rubenstein said, “For this year’s Public Installation program, timely images by artists from around the world will activate high profile-locations across the city. We look forward to sharing these projects that confront complex global realities in Toronto and beyond.”

CONTACT Executive Director Darcy Killeen said, “CONTACT’s Public Installation program began in 2003, with four venues in the city and now includes numerous sites plus a series of billboard installations across the country supported by Scotiabank, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, and Nikon Canada. Whereas CONTACT’s annual event is highly anticipated by the international photography community, the public installations are accessible to residents and visitors for both intentional and unexpected encounters. The CONTACT team gratefully acknowledges the support of our partners who make it possible for us to connect the public with the work of so many outstanding artists.”

Thirza Schaap – Carnival, from the series Plastic Ocean, 2017- ongoing. Courtesy the artist.

Preview of CONTACT 2020 Public Installation Artists Greg Staatsfor at least one day, you should continue to breathe clearly, Todmorden Mills Heritage Site

With an installation that incorporates photographic and pictographic enlargements adhered to the surfaces of Todmorden’s restored paper mill, Six Nations Hodinǫhsǫ:ni, Toronto-based artist Greg Staats reasserts First Nations’ presence on this site in an act of reconciliation, though it arrives and derives from a double displacement. First came the original displacement of the Hodinǫhsǫ:ni from the Mohawk Valley in upper New York state to the Grand River; then came a forced displacement from which many of the other colonial disinheritances derive—of the deprivation of language, culture, and governance. Staats’s restorative aesthetic redresses these losses. He utilizes a mnemonic of place (Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) and the knowledge that resides in the Mohawk language and the Great Law of Peace to shape a narrative of transformation and renewal that circulates us around the building. Curated by Philip Monk

Kim Hoeckele, Legs in Contrapposto with birch and oak stage, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Taiyo Onorato & Nico KrebsFUTURE PERFECTMetro Hall

This installation will be Swiss duo Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs’ first presentation in Canada. Their critical and timely suite of images reflects on the current state of the planet and humanity’s drastically changing perception of the future. Using a variety of techniques to disrupt traditional representations and readings of beauty-oriented images of nature, the artists explore the subject of human interference in the natural environment. Positioned alongside a municipal site of governance in Toronto’s entertainment district—where the practical considerations of metropolis management and optimism regarding travel and tourism are commonplace—the images’ fusion of the documentary and the imagined is heightened. Pointing to both the idyllic landscape and the consequences of climate change, these images of possible futures overtaken by plastic pollution confront everyday realities and fictions. The work poignantly ties these contradictory elements together, and the installation’s large scale will immerse viewers in the artists’ reflections on a volatile present that is still modifiable.Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein

Thirza SchaapPlastic Ocean, Osgoode Subway Station platform

Cape Town-based Dutch artist Thirza Schaap’s photographic series Plastic Ocean touches on pressing contemporary concerns that are front of mind globally. Disarmingly beautiful and delicate upon first glance, a closer inspection of her staged tableaus offers hints to their source material—consumer products that have endured a full commercial lifecycle. The abstracted compositions are carefully constructed from bits of scavenged plastic Schaap has found along the seashore, “disposable” packaging worn and weathered from exposure to the elements. Positioned along the subway platform, the project will impact thousands of daily commuters, in a space where they are accustomed to being targeted with commercial advertisements for new products. Disposability, part and parcel of commuter culture, is turned on its head in this critical and striking installation. Curated by Sara Knelman

Alberto Giuliani, Surviving Humanity, Brookfield Place, Allan Lambert Galleria

Presented throughout Allen Lambert Galleria, Surviving Humanity (2018) by Italian photographer and journalist Alberto Giuliani focuses on forces at work across the globe—the numerous scientific attempts to safeguard ecological and societal longevity. Underscoring the urgency of environmental action, the selection of images and their accompanying texts resonate with the surrounding architecture of the site’s glass atrium. In the heart of Canada’s financial district,  this exhibition opens a dialogue about the future of the planet, confronting the question asked by Giuliani’s children which motivated his extensive explorations: “How will the world be when we grow up?” Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein

Kim Hoeckeleepoch, stage, shell, Billboards at Dupont/Dovercourt & College/Dovercourt

In epoch, stage, shell, New York-based artist Kim Hoeckele presents physically and conceptually layered black-and-white photographs, in which she uses her own body to perform sculptural poses, mimicking Greco-Roman–influenced poses and gestures seen in ethnographic, art historical, and commercial images. In this work, Hoeckele reconsiders how women’s bodies have historically been presented and “consumed.” Often cutting up, layering, reconstructing, and re-photographing, her collaged compositions simultaneously emphasize and disguise her interventions, rendering the images both whole and fragmented, complicating the legacy of the Western art historical canon, and proposing a messier standard of beauty: one that is mixed, eroded, and patched together. Curated by Ben Freedman

Małgorzata Stankiewicz, Lassen, Billboards at Dundas & Lansdowne & Across Canada

Lassen is a topographic and polychromatic exploration of natural landscapes, which it celebrates while simultaneously revealing the artist’s uneasiness and anxiety about the current state of the environment. Further, it is an experimental investigation of the chromogenic process. The original enlargements, reproduced in this installation, are hand-printed in sections, resulting from the artist’s countless hours in the darkroom, compressing numerous layers of physical and chemical manipulations into one final image. Lassen is a journey through both factual and fictional place; a metaphorical portrait of nature of the Anthropocene era. Curated by Tara Smith

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