About

Overview

The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival returns in May 2017 with a Focus on Canada. A complete list of programming will be announced on April 1. Please join us for the Festival Launch Party on Friday, April 28 at the Ryerson Image Centre.

CONTACT is the largest photography event in the world, and a premiere cultural experience in Canada, with over 1500 artists in 200 exhibitions and happenings throughout the month in the Greater Toronto Area. Founded in 1997, CONTACT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and fostering the art and profession of photography.

CONTACT marked its 20th anniversary in 2016. To celebrate this milestone, an expanded program focused on 20 Primary Exhibitions at major museums and galleries plus 20 Public Installations at sites across the city. From enduring practices to new forms of expression, the Festival showcases a diverse range of photo-based works by Canadian and international artists.

 

How to Participate

CONTACT's call for artist participation opens annually in October. Please visit our site in early Fall 2017 for more details. We invite photographic artists to be a part of CONTACT either as an Open Exhibition or a Featured Exhibition. Open Exhibitions are non-juried, while Featured Exhibitions are subject to a submission process.

Submissions are not sought for CONTACT's curated programming, including Primary Exhibitions, Public Installations and Special Events.

 

Programming

The Festival’s curated programming—Primary Exhibitions and Public Installations—explores diverse subjects, motivated by artistic innovation and critical discourse locally, nationally and internationally. Collaborating with major museums and galleries, CONTACT presents outstanding photographic imagery that reflects issues relevant to our times and the history of the medium. In high profile sites, installations of images transform everyday activity in public space into unique encounters with works of art that resonate with their environment.

CONTACT’s community initiatives foster a wide range of interest in photography and enable meaningful exchanges between the people who make and present art, and those that view it. Selected through a call for submissions, Featured Exhibitions of lens-based works by artists from Canada and around the world are presented at established galleries across the city.

The foundation of CONTACT was based on an open call to participate, enabling emerging artists and photographers to show their work concurrent with exhibitions of works by leading professionals. Today the Open Exhibitions continue to encourage neighbourhood involvement at local galleries, community centres, educational and international institutions, cafes, retail stores, and many alternative locations.

CONTACT organizes and co-presents numerous Events and Workshops, including portfolio reviews, lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, and tours. Catering to all levels of interest in photography, these initiatives stimulate dialogue and encourage participation.

CONTACT reflects the all-encompassing influence of images in society and the extraordinary breath and scope of photography today, presenting a broad spectrum of work by lens-based artists, documentary photographers and photojournalists. The Festival increases exposure for all participants, commissions new work, supports professional development and occasions to learn. CONTACT embraces an inclusive and accessible approach to the medium, and cultivates collaborations with and among artists, curators, established institutions and diverse community groups and organizations. CONTACT is an advocate for the creative potential of partnerships to expand the practices of all involved, broaden our audience reach and build engagement with the visual arts locally and globally.

 

Disclaimer

CONTACT is an open forum for the promotion and discussion of photography. CONTACT is not responsible for the specific content or subject matter of any work displayed or advertised. Some exhibitions or materials may be offensive, upsetting or disturbing to some members of the public.

20th Anniversary

Together we reflect on the last 20 years of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and the innumerable encounters with images it has activated throughout the city, suspending movement and provoking imagination. Exploring paths that connect people and photographs, we have led the approach to intersections where meaningful experiences take place. The extraordinary scope of photography and its all-encompassing influence is illuminated by CONTACT, as we present a broad spectrum of work by acclaimed and emerging lens-based artists, documentary photographers, and photojournalists from Canada and around the world. Pursuing innovation and site-specific projects, we also look back at the foundations of the medium.

Over the years, we have questioned the veracity of images and studied their constructed nature, heralded their pervasive influence, and acknowledged their dramatic social and political impact. Our perception of reality has been challenged by photographs that frame shifting landscapes or serve as markers of history and surrogates for memory. We have examined photography’s evolution, and how past manifestations continuously inform current practices. After confronting proclamations of photography’s impending death, we ushered in the resurgence of analogue processes. And while amassing vast quantities of images derived from everyday image-making, we prudently distinguished exceptional photographs and their widespread implications. Idiosyncratic representations of identity have engendered our reverence, empathy, and enlightened sense of self, both individually and collectively.

Collaborating with our partners at major museums, galleries, organizations, and urban spaces throughout the Greater Toronto Area, CONTACT 2016 marks the Festival’s 20th anniversary with an expanded program focused on 20 Primary Exhibitions and 20 Public Installations. Inspired by many creative practitioners and the visual acuity of their work, these shows comprise more than 170 years of photographic image-making. Drawn from distinctly varied sources across the city and around the world, these outstanding works offer powerful insights and compelling views of social landscape, political turmoil, and cultural change. Underscoring the shadowy territory between fact and fiction, they depict dreamers and rebels, and explore conceptions of beauty and pride.

Positioned on streets, billboards, and subway platforms, or suspended from the façades and interiors of buildings, our public installations transform the experience of the city. Conveying narratives specific to the environment, its usage, and inhabitants, the interplay between the photographic subject and its surrounding context destabilizes the conventions of advertising and alters the patterns of everyday activity in public spaces.

The sweeping presence of CONTACT in May stimulates a multitude of programs and expressive endeavours throughout Toronto, interconnecting people by encouraging dialogue and opportunities to learn while fostering cultural commonalities. Shown in diverse neighbourhood locations—including galleries, community centres and schools, cafés, stores, and many unexpected alternative venues—Open Exhibitions are the democratic foundation of the Festival. Our annual open call for participation also cultivates submissions, and the selected Featured Exhibitions highlight powerful lens-based works by accomplished artists at prominent galleries. Journeys to these venues throughout the city, whether planned or discovered, uncover inventive presentations by burgeoning artists and leading professionals.

We are very grateful to our title sponsor Scotiabank, who continues to support the Festival’s programming and growth. Sincere thanks go to our major sponsors Nikon and PATTISON for their active engagement over the last seven years. Provincial funding from Celebrate Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Tourism Event Marketing Program, along with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, is gratefully acknowledged for providing tremendous reinforcement. Our appreciation goes out to everyone involved in CONTACT 2016, including programming partners, funders, sponsors, donors, and volunteers. We have endeavoured to expand the artistic practices of all involved while broadening our audience and engagement with visual arts locally and globally. We are proud to have played a key role in making Toronto an international centre of photography.

Bringing together over 1,500 artists and photographers at more than 200 exhibitions and happenings, we commemorate our 20th anniversary and celebrate the accomplishments of countless people who contribute to the Festival—most notably those exhibiting their work. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of images have mapped millions of experiences across our urban communities, guiding us to see and better understand the multifaceted nature of our place within constantly changing scenes.

- CONTACT staff and board of directors

Team

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Darcy Killeen

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Bonnie Rubenstein

PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Tara Smith (on leave until June 2017)

PROGRAMMING AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
Heather Rigg

ARTISTIC PROJECT COORDINATOR
Benjamin Freedman

FESTIVAL COORDINATOR
Brian St. Denis

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DESIGN
Small
Bartosz Gawdzik & Andrew Di Rosa
smallprojectstudio.com

COPY EDITING & WRITING
Shannon Anderson

PROOFREADING
Jen Cutts

WEBSITE
Yarek Wazul

COMMUNICATIONS & PR
NKPR Inc.

Board

Edward Burtynsky
Sarah Dinnick, Chair
Erin Iles
Heather Kelly
Olga Korper
Paul Lalonde
Elizabeth Levitt
Andric Ljubodrag
Maia-Mari Sutnik

Founders

Darren Alexander
Linda Book
Stephen Bulger
Judith Tatar

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