Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

2011: Figure + Ground

Focusing on our relationship to the environment, CONTACT 2011: Figure & Ground looks at how photographic images alter perception, inform knowledge, and uncover meaning. From classical portraits of the figure in the landscape to critical views of a ground transformed by human intervention, the works in this year’s festival explore the shifting tensions between humanity and nature.

The concept of figure and ground was first articulated in Gestalt psychology, which investigated perception and visual organization. This school of thought— centred on how our senses apprehend form as a whole—has an ongoing relevance to present-day discourse and art practice. While visual experience is shaped by a confluence of psychological and physical forces, we aspire to view the world as a totality, to establish order from chaos.

Marshall McLuhan, the renowned Canadian media theorist, developed his concept of figure/ground, borrowed from the Gestalt approach, to examine the influences that permeate and change social structures. He looked beyond what we immediately perceive—the figure—towards what typically goes unnoticed—the ground. McLuhan used the analogy of the car as the figure, and described the ground as the environment incidental to its existence, such as roads, highways, and the auto and oil industries.

Positioning the photographic image as a construction of figure and ground, this framework provided a starting point for the festival theme, which is further examined throughout the primary and featured exhibitions, public installations as well as a number of open exhibitions. One of the highlights is Edward Burtynsky: Oil, an exhibition with particular relevance to McLuhan’s analogy. Whereas Burtynsky’s photographs expose a landscape altered by humanity, Suzy Lake’s exhibition Political Poetics is a nuanced investigation of embodiment. These two Canadian artists were central to the development of the theme, from very different perspectives; both of them challenge the conventions of beauty. Other primary exhibitions, which total six this year, include highly evocative visual narratives by artists from around the globe. Their focus on the figure is revealed through representations of a constantly changing environment and the visual traces of humankind.

Our public installation program expands again this year, positioning photography within the city and—for the first time—across the country. Site-specific projects, produced by CONTACT in partnership with major cultural, commercial, and government organizations are presented at 14 selected venues. Showcasing artists from Canada and abroad, the interplay between the image and its surrounding environment draws attention to how photography effects changes in perception.

Reflecting a wide range of approaches—documentary to abstraction—the 37 featured exhibitions at diverse venues throughout Toronto evolved through a public call for proposals and by means of collaboration within the community. Artists from around the world expand the concept of the theme as a metaphor, allegory, theoretical platform, and compositional device.

The breadth of exhibitions in CONTACT this year reinforce the importance of art and significance of artists as communicators within society. In its simplest form, the theme Figure and Ground asks: What is our relationship to the environment? Looking at the photographs presented throughout the festival, we find many complex answers.

Bonnie Rubenstein
Artistic Director

Show Less
2011 Primary Exhibition
  Design Exchange
2011 Primary Exhibition
  Institute for Contemporary Culture, Royal Ontario Museum
2011 Primary Exhibition
  McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology (The Coach House), University of Toronto
2011 Primary Exhibition
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art: Main Space
2011 Primary Exhibition
  The National Gallery of Canada at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
2011 Primary Exhibition
  University of Toronto Art Centre
2011 Public Installation
  Billboards at Front St W at Spadina Ave, and across Canada
2011 Public Installation
  Billboards at Spadina Ave and Front St W, NE corner
2011 Public Installation
  Brookfield Place
2011 Public Installation
  Consulate General of Italy, garden
2011 Public Installation
  Cross-Canada Billboard Locations
2011 Public Installation
  Metro Hall
2011 Public Installation
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, courtyard
2011 Public Installation
  Onestop Nework LCD Screens, TTC Subway Station Platforms
2011 Public Installation
  The Power Plant
2011 Public Installation
  Toronto Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Alliance Francaise De Toronto – Galerie Pierre-Leon
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Angell Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Angell Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Bau-Xi Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Birch Libralato
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Birch Libralato
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Boss Store
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Gallery 44
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Gallery 44
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Gallery 44
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Gallery TPW
2011 Featured Exhibition
  gallerywest
2011 Featured Exhibition
  General Hardware Contemporary
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Gladstone Hotel
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Gladstone Hotel — 4th Floor
2011 Featured Exhibition
  I.M.A. Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Julie M. Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Koffler Gallery Off-Site at Sheppard Plaza
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Lausberg Contemporary
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Leo Kamen Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Mississauga Central Library
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Monte Clark Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Neubacher Shor Contemporary
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Nicholas Metivier Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Olga Korper Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Pari Nadimi Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Paul Petro Contemporary Art
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Paul Petro Contemporary Art
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Peak Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Pikto
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Queen Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Queen Gallery
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Textile Museum of Canada
2011 Featured Exhibition
  The Department Inc.
2011 Featured Exhibition
  TIFF Bell Lightbox
2011 Featured Exhibition
  UTAC Art Lounge
2011 Featured Exhibition
  Yorkdale Subway Station - Ticket Area
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  44 Wide
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  99 Sudbury
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  AGO Art Rental + Sales Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Album Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Alison Milne Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Analogue Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Arcadia Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Arneau Blax
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Ars Nova Arts
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Arta Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Arta Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Arts Etobicoke
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Artscape Triangle Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Art Square Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Atelier 688
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  A Museum Of My Own
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Bangkok Garden
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Ben Navaee Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Beverly Owens Project
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Bezpala Brown Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Bookhou
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Brayham Contemporary Art
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Brockton General
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Burroughes Building
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Burroughes Building
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Cafe Taste
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Campbell House Museum
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Canada's National Ballet School
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Canadian Auto Workers Union Local 40
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Canvas Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Capital Espresso
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  CARLTON CINEMA
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Cobalt Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Collaborative Urban Research Lab at York University
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Come As You Are
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Consulate General of Portugal in Toronto
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Contrast Canadian Photographic Works (CCPW)
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Corkin Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Data Armada
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Delight Chocolate
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Distillery Historic District — Archeo
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Distillery Historic District – Balzac's Coffee
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Distillery Historic District — Boiler House
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Distillery Historic District — Cabinet
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Distillery Historic District — Deaf Culture Centre
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Distillery Historic District — PROOF Studio Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Drabinsky Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Elaine Fleck Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  El Almacen
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Fat Cat
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  First Canadian Place
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Florian
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Galleria 814
2011 Open Call Exhibition
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  George Brown College – School of Design
2011 Open Call Exhibition
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Gladstone Hotel – Art Bar
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Hangman Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Heliographics
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Henry's Photo Video Digital
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  INDEXG
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Inglenook School
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  IX Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Jacobs Lounge Visual Arts Space, Miles Nadal JCC
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Japan Foundation, Toronto
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction - Agora Café
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction - Axis Gallery & Grill
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Bending Spoons Gallery at Vesuvio
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Chuck Akudu Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Code Revolt
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Deborah Friesen Architects
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Delight Chocolate/Junction Fromagerie
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Junction – Eclectic Revival
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Kaleidoscope Photography
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction - Kingsway Chiropractic
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Latitude 44 Framing & Decor
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Metropolis Living
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction - Pandemonium
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction - Phillipa C. Photography
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Picture It Framed
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Junction – Post and Beam
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Smash
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Studio Cycle Group
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction — Tea Blendz
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Junction – Telephone Booth Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Junction - The Beet Organic Restaurant
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Junction - The Hair Lounge
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Junction - West Toronto Paint
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Kinsman Robinson Galleries
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  KWT Contemporary
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Lakeview Restaurant
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Launch Projects Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Lens Factory
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Levack Block
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  LE Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Distillery Historic District – Le Laboratoire d'art - le labo inc.
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Lomography Gallery Store
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Lonsdale Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  MADE
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Mad Bean
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  MaRS
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The McMichael
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Meredith Keith Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Michelle Quance Photography
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Milagro Restaurant
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Mitzi's on College
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Montgomery's Inn
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  NACO
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Nicholas Metivier Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Norman Felix Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  North York Central Library
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Nova Era Bakery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Olympia Tile International Showroom
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Open Gallery of Art and Architecture
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Painted Lady
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Parkdale Village - JR's Natural Health and Bulk
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Parkdale Village BIA — River Trading Company
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Parkdale Village BIA — The Big Guy's Coffee Shop
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Petroff Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Pimlico Design Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Queen St. West BIA — Arepa Café
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Queen St. West BIA — Proper Reserve
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Queen St West - Queen Mother Cafe
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Queen St. West BIA — Shanghai Cowgirl
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Queen St West - Cabinet Salon
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Queen St West - The Rex Hotel
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Queen St West - The Rivoli
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Richard Johnson Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Rivoli Pool Hall
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Rivoli Pool Hall
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Shopgirls Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Sleeping Giant Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Sleeping Giant Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Spence Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Steam Whistle Brewing Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  SW1 Schools in Toronto District School Board
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Swan Restaurant
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  TDSB Sesquicentennial Museum and Archives
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Dark Horse
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Mascot
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  The Water Cooler, Baycrest
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Thor Espresso Bar
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Toronto District School Board Headquarters
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Toronto District School Board, Head Office - Main Floor Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Twist Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Vistek
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Vistek Mississauga
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Voulez-Vous Café
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  WARC Gallery
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  White Wall North
2011 Open Call Exhibition
  Yorkminster Park Gallery
2011 contact-gallery
  CONTACT Gallery
2011 Artist Talk
  Brookfield Place
2011 Artist Talk
  Circuit Gallery (Presented at Gallery 345)
2011 lecture
  The Drake Hotel
2011 lecture
  The Drake Hotel
2011 Artist Talk
  Gallery 44
2011 Artist Talk
  Gallery TPW
2011 Artist Talk
  Lausberg Contemporary
2011 Artist Talk
  McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology (The Coach House), University of Toronto
2011 lecture
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art: Main Space
2011 Artist Talk
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art: Main Space
2011 Artist Talk
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art: Main Space
2011 Artist Talk
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art: Main Space
2011 Artist Talk
  Neubacher Shor Contemporary
2011 Artist Talk
  Pikto
2011 Artist Talk
  Pikto
2011 symposium
  Ryerson University, George Vari Engineering And Computing Centre, 245 Church St, Rm ENG-103
2011 symposium
  Ryerson University, George Vari Engineering And Computing Centre, 245 Church St, Rm ENG-103
2011 lecture
  Ryerson University - LIB-72
2011 lecture
  Ryerson University - LIB-72
2011 lecture
  Ryerson University - LIB-72
2011 Artist Talk
  The Department Inc.
2011 Artist Talk
  Instituto Italiano di Cultura
2011 lecture
  University of Toronto - Father Madden Hall, Carr Hall, St. Michael’s College
2011 lecture
  University of Toronto Art Centre
2011 Launch
  Gallery TPW
2011 Launch
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art: Main Space
2011 Launch
  Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art
2011 Launch
  Stephen Bulger Gallery
2011 screening
  Camera Bar
2011 screening
  Cumberland Alliance Cinema
2011 screening
  The Department Inc.
2011 screening
  TIFF Bell Lightbox
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Gallery 44
2011 Workshop
  Pikto
2011 Workshop
  Pikto
2011 Workshop
  Vistek
2011 Workshop
  Vistek
2011 Workshop
  Vistek
2011 Workshop
  Vistek
2011 Workshop
  Vistek
2011 Workshop
  Vistek
2011 Workshop
  Vistek
2011 Tour
  Mississauga Central Library
2011 Tour
  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, courtyard
2011 Event
  918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media & Education
2011 Event
  Design Exchange
2011 Event
  The Drake Hotel
2011 Event
  The Drake Hotel
2011 Event
  Ryerson University, Oakham Lounge
2011
  TVO Films
2011
  TVO Films
2011
  TVO Films