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CONTACT: Take a peek at the ‘largest photography event in the world’ about to descend on Toronto

Dominic Nahr/Magnum Photos. Courtesy of O’Born Contemporary

Untitled, Ethiopia, Erta Ale YEAR: 2013. Lava can be seen of the Erta Ale volcano along the border with Eritrea in Ethiopia.

Hard to believe there once was a time when debates raged about whether photography was an art form and if it was, was it minor or major? Today nobody debates about photography in that way. Photography, in fact, is a paramount art practice for the 21st century – a fact affirmed this week with the posting online of the lineup for the 18th annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto.
Rodney Graham/National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery

The Gifted Amateur, Nov. 10th, 1962 YEAR: 2007

Billed as “the largest photography event in the world,” this year’s CONTACT, beginning May 1, will involve some 1,500 artists, curators, critics and collectors and more than 200 venues, including such major institutions as the Royal Ontario Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Art Gallery of Ontario. As ever, it seems there will be more to see than humanly possible: Thirteen primary exhibitions, nine public installations (on billboards, walls and in airports and subway stops), 35 featured exhibitions and more than 120 open exhibitions in sites scattered across Greater Toronto. Of course, there’s a theme to it all, namely identity or, as CONTACT artistic director Bonnie Rubenstein puts it, “highlighting the relationship between identity and photography by focusing on images that explore individual and collective attributes.… Through a variety of practices, the artist and their photographs assert their own idiosyncratic identity and elicit an emotional association that is both outwardly influential and internally processed by viewers.”
Cindy Sherman/National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Untitled #411 YEAR: 2003

Among the must-sees: The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus, a compendium of photos, videos and text assembled since 2009 by photographer Arnold von Bruggen and photographer Rob Hornstra (at CONTACT Gallery, 80 Spadina, May 1-May 31); In Character: Self-Portrait of the Artist as Another, a group show featuring work by Cindy Sherman, Rodney Graham, General Idea and others, culled from the National Gallery of Canada collection (at MoCCA, May 1-June 1); and The Entire City Project: Royal Ontario Museum, Michael Awad’s exhaustive, year-long photographic survey of the ROM, marking its centennial this year (May 3-Sept. 28).
Michael Awad/Courtesy of the artist and Nicholas Metivier Gallery

The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto YEAR: 2014

If talking about photography is your thing, the Ryerson Image Centre is hosting a three-day symposium titled Collecting and Curating Photographs: Between Private and Public Collections, featuring such heavyweights as Quentin Bajac, chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art; Manhattan photography dealer Howard Greenberg; Toronto collectors Harry and Ann Malcolmson; and Anne McCauley, history of photography professor at Princeton (May 1-3).
Rob Hornstra/Flatland Gallery

The Beach, Adler, Sochi Region YEAR: 2011. A view on the beach near Adlersky Kurortny Gorodok in Adler. From: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus (Aperture, 2013).

For details on exhibitions, programs, workshops (there are nine this year), portfolio reviews, lectures and panel discussions, go to The print catalogue for CONTACT 2014 is available on April 23.
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