Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival takes over
On view until at least May 31, these outdoor installations are on our radar.
Sunday School, Feels Like HOME, 2023, installation view, billboards at Lansdowne Ave at Dundas St W and at College St, Toronto. Courtesy of the artists and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Spring has sprung, and on sidewalks, billboards and in subway stations in Toronto, photography is blooming! As a much-beloved component of the annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, numerous Outdoor Installations are currently on view across the city, from Etobicoke to North York. Featuring artists both renowned and emerging, these outdoor installations are on view until at least May 31.
So look up, around and over, and don’t miss these must-see art moments - all free and all open to the public.
Six billboards at the intersection of Dundas and Lansdowne
A creative agency bringing together photographers, videographers, stylists, and models from across Africa and the diaspora, Sunday School makes its first major installation in Toronto as part of CONTACT with six images on billboards and an exhibition at the AGO entitled Feels Like Home. Celebrating the agency’s collaborative ethos and the ways in which they are pushing the boundaries of storytelling, these vibrant images shed light on notions of Black Diasporic identities, community and culture.
Robert Kautuk in Up Front: Inuit Public Art at Onsite Gallery
199 Richmond St W (exterior)
Robert Kautuk, Sea Ice Break Up, 2019. Courtesy of the artist
Part of a series of commissioned digital murals by Inuit artists, Robert Kautuk’s aerial photography animates the gallery’s façade, bringing his unique vision to downtown Toronto. Robert’s work is also currently on view as part of the AGO’s exhibition We Are Story: The Canada Now Photography Acquisition, co-presented with CONTACT.
Farah Al Qasimi’s Night Swimming
Davisville Subway Station platform
Farah Al Qasimi, Night Swimming, 2023, installation view, Davisville Subway Station, Toronto. Courtesy of the artist and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
Working between the United Arab Emirates and New York, Lebanese-American artist Farah Al Qasimi finds her vibrant, collage-like compositions in the international cityscapes around her or creates them in-studio. The images in Night Swimming show fragments of shop displays, luxury interiors, and street life, weaving together the complexities of cultural identity, gender roles, and consumer culture.
Writing Without Words: The Autoportraits of Hélène Amouzou
King St W at John St, outside Metro Hall
Hélène Amouzou, Writing Without Words: The Autoportraits of Hélène Amouzou, installation view, Metro Hall along King St W, Toronto, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Togolese-Belgian photographer Hélène Amouzou creates distinctive imagery through long exposures, generating photographic apparitions that speak to issues of displacement and exile. Curated by Mark Sealy, these 13 haunting, larger-than-life images in this outdoor installation reveal the deepest parts of the artist herself and evoke the spectre of people forced to migrate across the globe.
Maggie Groat’s DOUBLE PENDULUM
Billboards at Dovercourt Road & Dupont Street
Outdoor installation, Harbourfront Centre Parking Pavilion
Maggie Groat, DOUBLE PENDULUM, 2023, installation view, wheat-pasted images at Harbourfront Centre parking pavilion, Toronto. Courtesy of the artist and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Newly commissioned artworks by multidisciplinary artist Maggie Groat are visible on billboards at Dovercourt Road and Dupont Street and in an outdoor installation at Harbourfront Centre’s Parking Pavilion. In these collage works, Groat investigates decolonial ways of being, alternative archiving, sustainable exhibition making, and the potential of salvaged materials.
Maïmouna Guerresi’s Villes Nouvelles
Aga Khan Museum Park, 77 Wynford Drive, North York
Maïmouna Guerresi, Sebaätou Rijal & Villes Nouvelles and Ancient Shadows, installation view of the series Villes Nouvelles & Ancient Shadows, Aga Khan Park, Toronto, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and the Aga Khan Museum. Photo: © Salina Kassam.
Italian-Senegalese multimedia artist Maïmouna Guerresi’s striking images are inspired by the complex history of Marrakesh. Created during her 2020 artist residency at the Musée d'Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakesh, these images merge French colonial architectural style with the traditions, culture, and spirituality of Marrakesh.
Jake Kimble, Grow Up #1, Mural, 460 King St W, north façade
Jake Kimble, Grow Up #1, 2022, installation view, 460 King St W, Toronto, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
Combining humour and pathos, in multimedia artist Jake Kimble’s mural Grow Up #1, he wears a cowboy hat, complicating his identity as a Chipewyan (Dëne Sųłıné) child from Treaty 8 territory in the Northwest Territories, and subverting traditional dichotomies of “cowboys and Indians” and “parent and child” by playing both roles simultaneously. The work reflects his experience growing up in a chaotic household in which he felt the burden of adult responsibility.
Nadya Kwandibens’ Shiibaashka’igan: Honouring the Sacred Jingle Dress
Billboard at 180 Shaw Street
Nadya Kwandibens, Shiibaashka’igan: Honouring the Sacred Jingle Dress, 2019, installation view, 180 Shaw St, Toronto, 2023. Courtesy of the artist, Critical Distance Centre for Curators, and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Newly appointed Toronto Photo Laureate Nadya Kwandibens’s image Shiibaashka’igan: Honouring the Sacred Jingle Dress is but one element of a larger exhibition entitled Materialized, co-presented by Native Women in the Arts and Critical Distance. Photographed at the Naotkamegwanning roundhouse, the portrait depicts three Anishinaabekwewag sharing a candid moment of laughter, subverting the “stoic Indian” trope that characterizes historical portraits by non-Indigenous photographers.
Sarah Palmer’s Wish you Were here
Summerville Pool, 1867 Lake Shore Blvd E.
Sarah Palmer, Wish You Were Here, 2018, installation view, Donald D. Summerville Olympic Pools, south façade, Toronto, 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.
Documenting the world of “last-chance” cruise tourism, where passengers seek leisure time through voyages to destinations adversely affected by the climate crisis, Palmer’s larger-than-life photographs adorn the waterfront-facing Donald D. Summerville Pools facility, and immerse viewers in the experience of travelling alongside happy vacationers — all aboard a vessel that further accelerates these negative environmental impacts.
In 2023, the AGO co-presents three exhibitions as part of the festival, including Feels Like Home, Wolfgang Tillmans: To look without fear and We Are Story: The Canada Now Photography Acquisition.