Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival Announces Highlights of its 2020 Edition

  • TORONTO, Canada
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  • December 17, 2019

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Toronto’s preeminent month-long festival in May presents an outstanding roster of established and emerging Canadian, American, and international lens-based artists

Toronto, Ontario, CanadaScotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival today announced that the 24th edition of the city-wide event spanning the month of May 2020 will feature a selection of North American and international lens-based artists presenting a diversity of projects in museums, galleries, and public spaces across Toronto. The preliminary list of artists includes Laia Abril, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács, Fatma Bucak, Wendy Coburn, Alberto Giuliani, Aaron Jones, Christina Leslie, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, Carol Sawyer, Greg Staats, Krista Belle Stewart, Stephen Waddell, Miao Ying, and Tereza Zelenkova.

CONTACT Gallery will present the North American premiere of Spanish artist Laia Abril’s powerful new series On Rape, the second chapter in her project A History of Misogyny. At the Campbell House Museum, in the first showing of her work in Canada, Czech artist Tereza Zelenkova will create a new project for CONTACT inside the historical house in Toronto’s Justice District. As with Abril’s work, Zelenkova’s new project challenges traditional photographic depictions of evidence of crimes to evoke disturbing and mysterious human experiences.

Laia Abril, Ala Kachuu [Bride Kidnapping], Kyrgyzstan, from the series Power Rape, On Rape, 2019. Courtesy the artist.

The 2020 series of Public Installations will include a special focus on the environment, visualizing the future of the planet and humanity’s role in it. This includes site-specific installations of monumental images by Swiss artists Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs at Metro Hall, and Italian artist Alberto Guiliani at Brookfield Place, each of whose works project dystopic not-too-distant futures based in the contemporary realities of a swiftly changing world.

Artistic Director Bonnie Rubenstein said, “Fostering a deep engagement with photographs and a heightened awareness of critical global issues, artists participating in the 2020 Festival expose physical, emotional, and environmental scars that reflect the fragility of our times.

CONTACT Executive Director Darcy Killeen said, “We are pleased to offer a preview of the exciting line-up of participating artists coming to Toronto in May. Several artists are showing in Canada for the first time and a number of them will create new works for our primary exhibitions and public installations. The CONTACT team is also thrilled to welcome back many of our long-standing partners and sponsors who continue to support one of the world’s top photography festivals.”


Preview of CONTACT 2020 artists

Laia Abril (Spain) | CONTACT Gallery and 460 King Street West

Abril’s On Rape is the second chapter in her project A History of Misogyny. Examining myth, power, and law, Abril aims to understand why institutional structures of justice are not only failing rape victims, but encouraging violence through the preservation of social norms. Through the artist’s painstaking research, this project foregrounds the rampant normalization of sexual violence.

Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács (Netherlands) | A Space Gallery

The work of Broersen & Lukács is characterized by an exploration of the source material that culminates into our contemporary visual culture. With videos that incorporate film footage, digital animation and images appropriated from the media, they demonstrate how reality and fiction are intertwined. In this solo exhibition at A Space, their first in Canada, they ruminate on the ways that European romanticism and cinematic language influence the particularity of several iconic landscapes and their ever-present threats.

Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, X10, 2019, from series Future Perfect. Courtesy the artists and Sies+Hoeke.

Fatma Bucak (Turkey) and Krista Belle Stewart (Canada/Syilx Nation (Okanagan)) | MOCA Toronto

The work of Bucak and Stewart will be presented in dialogue at MOCA. Bucak was born in eastern Turkey and identifies as both Kurdish and Turkish, an identity inherently tied to the social realities of border landscapes. Her work expresses a negotiation and interrogation of the ideological and conceptual conditions of these liminal spaces. Stewart is a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation. Her practice draws out personal and political narratives inherent in archival materials while questioning their articulation in institutional histories. At MOCA, Bucak will exhibit works including A Study of Eight Landscapes alongside Stewart’s recent project Truth to Material. While coming from very different contexts, both artists explore the political identity of land and heritage, methodologies of historical repression and interpretation, and the act and effects of erasure.

Wendy Coburn (Canada) (1963–2015) | Onsite Gallery

Coburn has had significant impact on the Canadian art community as an artist, educator, and activist who has exhibited internationally. Fable for Tomorrow is the first survey of her artwork, bringing together four decades of sculpture, installation, photography, and video that reveal her ability to sense the pulse of the present while asking us to pay attention to other futures. Coburn’s work explores representations of gender, sexuality, everyday objects, material culture, and human/animal relations.

Alberto Giuliani (Italy) | Brookfield Place

Giuliani’s photographic series Surviving Humanity explores the future of humanity, from the effects of climate change, to changes in the qualities of humankind (robots, androids, supercomputers), to mass migration and war. Regardless of what comes next, the artist stands with experts who agree that in the coming decades, humanity is going to face huge challenges—indeed, it will likely face the question of its very survival. This project highlights the efforts of science to meet these challenges, and the people tasked with handling humanity’s future.

Aaron Jones (Canada) | Toronto Public Library, Malvern Branch

Jones will be developing a new, site-specific installation using images drawn from the Rita Cox Caribbean Heritage Collection at the Toronto Public Library. This collection features over 16,000 print and audio-visual items with a focus on Caribbean historical and cultural experiences, with a special emphasis on Canadian content.

Christina Leslie (Jamaica/Canada) | BAND Gallery

In celebration of its 10th Anniversary, BAND Gallery welcomes back Leslie, who last exhibited there in 2009. Leslie recently returned to her father’s hometown of Morant Bay, Jamaica, for the first time in decades. While she found a village in decline, she was driven by a sense of nostalgia and began documenting the people and landscapes. Reunited with family and childhood friends and revisiting landmarks, the artist created this body of work to capture the essence of what her father feared was lost.

Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs (Switzerland) | Metro Hall

A critical and timely suite of images by Onorato and Krebs reflects on the current state of the planet and humanity in the wake of the industrial age. Beginning with “straight” photographs, the artists’ subject of human interference is realized not only through the images’ content, but with manual interventions into these depictions, disrupting the traditional awe-inducing, beauty-oriented reading of such images of nature. The installation at Metro Hall will be Onorato and Krebs’ first presentation in Canada.

Carol Sawyer (Canada) | Koffler Centre of the Arts

In Sawyer’s The Natalie Brettschneider Archive, she reconstructs the life and work of a fictional, genre-blurring artist through documentary and visual materials. The archive records Brettschneider’s childhood in British Columbia, her participation in the Parisian interwar avant-garde, and her unconventional art practice in late 1930s British Columbia.  A feminist critique of art-historical conventions, the archive examines photography’s use in supporting cultural assumptions about gender, age, authorship, and artmaking. Including authentic archival materials and fictitious works linking Brettschneider’s narrative to actual events, people and places, the exhibition foregrounds creative women who have not received wider attention because of racial prejudice, homophobia, and sexism.

Greg Staats (Canada/Six Nations) | Todmorden Mills Heritage Site

Curated by Philip Monk, Six Nations Hodinǫhsǫ:ni, Toronto-based artist Greg Staats will present environmental photography at the Todmorden Mills Heritage Site. Selectively wrapping the building with photographic blowups and pictographic representations, Staats conceives of the historical paper mill located there as a palimpsest in order to restore a supplanted Indigenous presence to the site. Staats’s project, for at least one day, you should continue to breathe clearly, fully embraces the complexities of Indigenous-settler conciliation through a memorial act of restoration.    

Stephen Waddell (Canada) | Ryerson Image Centre

As winner of CONTACT’s 2019 Scotiabank Photography Award, Waddell’s work will be featured in a survey exhibition that highlights his experiments with various photographic techniques and processes, and brings into focus his careful attention to scale and light. Waddell’s elegiac images, comprised of street compositions of workers and passers-by in full color, alongside more recent black-and-white photographs of caves and grottos, convey a sense of theatricality.

Miao Ying (China) | Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Art Museum at the University of Toronto

Curated by Yan Wu, this first presentation of Shanghai/New York-based artist Ying in Canada features her recent installation Chinternet Plus: What Goes On. A first-generation internet artist in China, Ying examines official and popular Chinese internet culture, including state censorship (The Great Firewall). Focusing on a recent Chinese economic strategy “Internet Plus”—involving the rebooting of traditional industries through cloud computing, big data, and life-style branding—Ying's Chinternet Plus is a parodic and critical take on the cultivation of a new, counterfeit reality complete with promotional videos, seductive imagery, logo designs, wallpaper, and concept slogan.

Tereza Zelenkova (Czech Republic) | Campbell House Museum

For her first show in Canada, Zelenkova will create a new project for CONTACT in dialogue with her 2017 series The Essential Solitude, a poetic suite of images conveying a psychic space, depicting a mysterious nineteenth century interior inhabited by a lone figure in a deeply introspective state. The new installation will respond to Campbell House, where Zelenkova will stage and photograph apparent crime scenes at the historical museum, creating a time slippage that reflects the mysterious nature of human experience.

About Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

CONTACT fosters and celebrates the art and profession of photography with its annual Festival in May and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery in Toronto. CONTACT presents lens-based works by acclaimed and emerging artists, documentary photographers, and photojournalists from Canada and around the world. The curated program of primary exhibitions (collaborations with major museums, galleries, and artist-run centers), and public installations (site-specific public art projects), are the core of the Festival. These are cultivated through partnerships, commissions, and new discoveries, framing the cultural, social, and political events of our times. The featured and open exhibitions present a range of works by local and international artists at leading galleries and alternative spaces across the city. CONTACT also includes a wide range of events including a book fair, lectures, talks, panels, workshops, and symposia during the Festival and hosts exhibitions and programs at its Gallery throughout the year.

CONTACT, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1997, is generously supported by Scotiabank, Scotia Wealth Management, Nikon Canada, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, Vistek, Toronto Image Works, The Gilder, Transcontinental PLM, 3M Canada, BIG Digital, Waddington's Auctioneers and Appraisers, Four By Eight Signs, Beyond Digital Imaging, Steam Whistle Brewing, Art Toronto, The Gladstone Hotel, The Globe and Mail, NOW Magazine, CBC Toronto, and Canadian Art.

CONTACT gratefully acknowledges the support of Celebrate Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Ontario Arts Council, The Government of Ontario, Partners in Art, Canada Council for the Arts, La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, the Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in Canada, the Howard Webster Foundation, Mondriaan Fund, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto Arts Council, Tourism Toronto and all of their funders, donors, and programming partners.  

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Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
80 Spadina Ave
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Toronto, Canada
416 539 9595

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