Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2011: Figure & Ground
May 2, 2011 3 Comments
Every May, Toronto holds a photography festival sponsored by Scotiabank called CONTACT. Over 1000 local, national, and international artists exhibit at more than 200 venues. Founded as a not-for-profit organization 15 years ago, the festival is devoted to celebrating, and fostering the art and profession of photography. It stimulates excitement and discussion among a diverse audience that has grown to over 1.5 million. CONTACT is the largest photography event in the world, and a premiere cultural event in Canada.
This year, I was honoured to be a part of CONTACT, exhibiting three of my photographs as part of a group exhibit sponsored by the Greek -America Foundation, called Greek Foto Week. Running from May 1-7, Greek Foto Week brings together 15 photographers of Greek descent from throughout Canada to offer their interpretation of the 2011 theme of Figure & Ground. Curated by Christos Damianos and held at Toronto’s historic Burroughes Building care of Lee Polydor, GFW explores the “ways (in which) photography dictates perception by framing: how it inherently directs our attention, deliniates the ways we perceive environments and understand the world around us. The tension between humanity and nature, object and environment, foreground and background, contour and condition (capturing) the essence of movement, time and space.” The photographers explore figure and ground as metaphor, allegory, composition, and probe.
Last night was the Opening Reception of GFW and despite the rain and it being a Sunday night, the turnout was great. My submissions were based on three separate trips to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil within the same decade (2002, 2005, 2007). Play Time In The Storm Sewer, Girl of Ipanema, and Ipanema Beach examine the visual and socioeconomic exchange between figure at leisure (beach goers) and ground (the beach) in the public space. Ipanema is an affluent and touristy beach side neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro populated by hotels and expensive high-rise residences. Although the beach is in no way private, we can see that it is predominantly white, and that impoverished usually black children voluntarily swim in a storm conduit that separates Leblon and Ipanema (Play Time In The Storm Sewer), while the adults sell drinks and snacks to the tourists and well-off locals (Ipanema Beach). All eyes are fixated on The Girl of Ipanema, a symbol of (white) beauty congruent with a collective perception of feminine beauty that is dominant in today’s fashion and media industries. The limited edition (10 of each) prints are 20″X30″, tape mounted on 30″X40″ frames. For more information please visit Scotiabank CONTACT or www.spiro.ca. For photos of last night’s Opening Reception please click here. – The Burroughes Gallery (3rd Floor), 639 Queen Street West (Corner of Bathurst & Queen), Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 11am-5pm