Photography is a vital means of communicating the distinguishing characteristics of people, and demonstrating both the objective and subjective reality of objects and sites. The construction of identity is deeply connected to the taking and viewing of photographs, now more than ever within our hypermediated culture. Regardless of the processes employed in their production, photographic images convey genuine external traits, conditions of sameness, and situational differences. They influence human behaviour and the ways in which we adapt within and respond to the world around us.
CONTACT’s 2014 thematic programming highlights the relationship between identity and photography by focusing on images that explore individual and collective attributes. The Festival’s Primary Exhibitions and Public Installations include photo-based works by Canadian and international artists, both emerging and established, that address issues of character, nationality, migration, race, class, gender, feminism, masculinity, and sexuality. While some artists create scenes that represent intimate aspects of themselves and their subjects, others take a documentary approach to describe shared concerns and provoke questions. Each of them emphasizes the power of photographs to influence a physical and psychological identification with people, places, and things, while acknowledging the complex and mutable character of their subjects. Through a variety of practices, the artists and their photographs assert their own idiosyncratic identity and elicit an emotional association that is both outwardly influential and internally processed by viewers.