Ten years ago the Festival’s first thematic focus raised a question that has been contemplated since the creation of the medium: are photographs truthful representations? Today this question remains contentious, as photography’s relationship to reality persistently transforms. While evolving technologies have resulted in irrevocable changes in the way images are created and viewed, efforts to stabilize their role and function are increasingly complex and all the more superfluous. In recent years, the debate concerning the veracity of the photograph has developed into questioning the medium itself: what is photography today? The fact that this question has so many possible answers reflects an ever-expanding engagement with photography. In essence, it is both a profound means of expression and an everyday obsession that informs how life is explained, understood, experienced, and remembered. As innovative manifestations of photography continue to emerge, the time-honoured practices that ground them acquire momentum and simultaneously evolve. Breaking away from the framing of a specific thematic narrative, CONTACT 2015 celebrates photography as a medium without boundaries.
This year’s Festival presents a spectrum of Primary Exhibitions and Public Installations, drawn together to exemplify the extraordinary breadth and scope of photo-based imagery today. Collaborating with partners across Toronto, this succession of shows includes some of the earliest examples of photographic documentation, as well as recently commissioned images shown for the first time. Although the projects embody more than 170 years of the practice and highly disparate philosophical and technical concerns, several common threads bind them together.
On buildings, billboards, and subway platforms or in major museums and galleries, the images in this year’s Festival transform the experience of the city. Painterly or sculptural, abstract or representational, still or moving, ephemeral or enduring, each of them are innovations of photography, regardless of whether they were captured by a camera, cut from a magazine, output by a computer, exposed under the sun, or printed in a darkroom. Throughout the month of May in Toronto, CONTACT has no boundaries.