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Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival May 1-31, 2015 Toronto, Canada: 11 Public Installations in the Urban Landscape

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival: Public Installations

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival: Public Installations

This is an update to these previous blogs:

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

(May 1-31, 2015)


11 Public Installations in the Urban Landscape

FREE Admissions

Celebrate the month of photography in Toronto!

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Here are the 11 photography artists who presented their work as public installations during the CONTACT Photography Festival.

Artists from locations around the world are drawn together within the context of advertising, as they make surreptitious use of billboards and kiosks. Suggestive of product shots and marketing campaigns, their photographs of meticulously-composed everyday objects destabilize the conventions of commercial imagery by combining high-impact graphic strategies with conceptual and experimental art tactics.

  • Sara Cwynar: Flat Death
    • Billboards on Lansdowne Ave at Dundas St W and College St, May 1-31
    • Curated by Sabrina Maltese. Supported by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising and Nikon Canada.

New York-based artist Sara Cwynar uses dated commercial imagery and objects for her hybrid sculptural and photographic interventions. Her source material presents aesthetic ideals from the recent past that appear today as outmoded and kitsch. Adopting and manipulating the conventions of advertising, Cwynar transforms cultural detritus into visually seductive images.

  • Myoung Ho Lee: Tree
    • Brookfield Place, Allen Lambert Galleria, May 1-31
    • Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein. Presented in partnership with Brookfield Place and the Daegu Photo Biennale.

Seoul-based artist Myoung Ho Lee photographs solitary trees by framing them against massive white canvas backdrops in their natural environments. His performative and transient interventions serve to transform the common tree into a highly theatrical and mysterious entity. Echoing this method of production, Lee’s photographs are presented as large-scale banners suspended from the ceiling.

Matthew Stone’s images of entangled nudes are installed across the hotel’s façade windows, in expressive positions that connect them to the sensual nudes of Courbet or the muscular figures of Michelangelo. This British photographer, sculptor, and performance artist is known for his utopic visions that celebrate the ecstatic collective.

Situated at the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district, Isabelle Wenzel’s series of larger-than-life figures oscillate between surrealism and slapstick, adopting unnatural, oftentimes outrageous poses. Trained as an acrobat throughout her childhood, this German artist uses her own body for her work, which confronts the pervasive depiction of the sexualized female form.

  • Jihyun Jung: Demolition Site
    • MOCCA Courtyard & Lobby, Apr 28-Aug 31
    • Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein. Presented in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Daegu Photo Biennale.

Trespassing onto construction sites, Korean artist Jihyun Jung enters apartments slated for demolition, covers a room in red paint, and then documents the interior and exterior of the structure. Jung’s images-presented at a site similarly destined for reconstruction-commemorate the lives once occupying these spaces and underscore the turbulence of upheaval and the social issues behind urban development.

  • Phil Solomon: EMPIRE x 8 
    • Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall, Ryerson Image Centre, Apr 20-Jun 28
    • Curated by Paul Roth. Organized by the Ryerson Image Centre.

American experimental filmmaker Phil Solomon positions viewers high above the simulated New York of Grand Theft Auto IV, overlooking a virtual Empire State Building through 24 hours of shifting light and weather. His machinima film reconsiders an architectural icon haunted by questions about appropriation, realism, and the tarnished state of the American Dream.

French Algerian artist Zineb Sedira’s image of a mammoth shipping vessel stands as a hauntingly beautiful tombstone for the skeletal remains of hundreds more abandoned ships around Nouadhibou, Mauritania. One of the world’s only places where old vessels could be discarded whole, they leak toxic chemicals as they corrode, resulting in an ecological catastrophe. 

The private Polaroid collection of amateur photographer Edouard LeBouthillier taken during the 1970s and 1980s is featured in this two-part exhibition: images of his personal travels and of Toronto’s urban landscape and popular attractions are presented as large-scale reproductions at Union Station, while photographs of his domestic life are featured at Art Metropole.

Mexican artist Alejandro Cartagena’s photographs focus on the rise of the poorer suburbs in Mexico, and the commute taken by construction workers and landscapers to the wealthy suburban areas they build and maintain.Videos by Kingston, Ontario art duo Julia Krolik & Owen Fernley depict aerial views of suburban landscapes using government orthophotos.

  • Sarah Anne Johnson: Best Beach
    • Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre, May 1-Apr 2017
    • Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein. Supported by Partners in Art (Lead Sponsor) and StreetARToronto (StART). Presented in partnership with The Westin Harbour Castle.

In this commissioned large-scale, site-specific mural, Johnson’s evocative island scene echoes the natural landscape lying just beyond the edge of the city. Nestled between towering buildings that hover near Lake Ontario, her image explores the space between reality and fiction, experience and desire, transforming a grey urban block into an enchanted place.

Please note the project Larry Towell: Union Station was cancelled due to unforeseeable circumstances on-site, and we apologize for any inconvenience.

The giant photographic mural "Best Beach" was installed  on the west wall of the Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre, 11 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Image credit:  Sarah Anne Johnson, Best Beach, 2015, Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto and Julie Saul Gallery, New York)

The giant photographic mural “Best Beach” was installed on the west wall of the Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre, 11 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Image credit: Sarah Anne Johnson, Best Beach, 2015, Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto and Julie Saul Gallery, New York)

Artist Talk: Sarah Anne Johnson @ Drake Hotel May 3, 3:00 pm

Public Installation: Best Beach

Sarah Anne Johnson

FREE Admissions

May 1–December 31
Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre
11 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

(At the Corner of Bay Street and Queens Quay)

Ink jet print on vinyl
37 x 144 feet



Monumental photographic mural installed at
Toronto waterfront

Toronto’s first photographic mural on a monumental scale has now been installed through a partnership between the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto (StART), Partners In Art (PIA) and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. This collaboration provided a rare opportunity to commission a large-scale photographic artwork for the enjoyment of Toronto’s residents and visitors.

Thanks to a $50,000 donation by Partners In Art, Winnipeg-based photographer Sarah Anne Johnson has created a large-scale, site-specific artwork for the west wall of The Westin Harbour Castle Convention Centre at 11 Bay St. The block-long building at the foot of Bay Street offers a unique wall surface highly suitable for a massive mural.

“This impressive creation of painting and photography is a testament to the tremendous work of all partners in the project – the City of Toronto’s StreetART program, Partners In Art and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival,” said Mayor John Tory. “This partnership illustrates the power that can be generated between City programs and the creative sector. It’s programs like this that make our streets more beautiful and interesting.”

“Sarah Anne Johnson has brought an incredible scene of beauty to the foot of Bay Street that complements perfectly the revitalization of Queens Quay and potential of the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal,” said Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale). “The creative spirit of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and the hard work of the City’s StreetART program have delivered a wonderful program to be enjoyed by residents as well as visitors here for the Pan Am/ Parapan Am Games.”

Johnson used the site to take a playful yet considered approach to the pursuit of the utopian. Her evocative image, titled Best Beach, echoes the natural landscape lying just beyond the edge of the city, nestled between towering buildings that hover next to nearby Lake Ontario. Construction of the mural was completed in time for the opening of the CONTACT Festival and the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

The mural is located in a prominent and lively neighbourhood including popular tourist destinations such as the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, Harbourfront Centre, and what will be the heart of the Games. The City is grateful to the Westin Harbour Castle for granting permission to use the 38-foot-tall (12-metre) and 144-foot wide (44-metre) wall for a commissioned photographic artwork.

Launched in 2012, StART is an innovative, public-private partnership designed to develop, support, promote and increase awareness of street art and its ability to beautify the city’s visual landscape.

Over the years, PIA has demonstrated a keen interest in the impact of art in public space. “PIA believes it’s important that contemporary art be accessible to everyone,” said Joanne Thring, President of PIA. “We’re especially pleased to collaborate on this outstanding StreetARToronto project and to be the lead sponsor of the first-ever photographic mural located in a busy area of Toronto’s waterfront.”

Since 1997, CONTACT has presented an annual festival in May with a vital focus on photography throughout Toronto. This city-wide celebration provides exposure and recognition for Canadian and international artists while fostering greater knowledge of photo-based practices and enduring interest in the arts. Beginning in 2003, CONTACT has produced close to 100 installations of photographs in public spaces through the Greater Toronto Area. The project will be the largest photographic image CONTACT has installed. It also marks the first time the Festival will have a year-round presence in the
City’s core. The mural will remain on location for a minimum of two years.

“CONTACT is grateful for this exceptional opportunity to commission a massive photographic image by the acclaimed Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson, who’s innovative and arresting works reflect her personal perspective on the environment and engage people from all walks of life,” said Bonnie Rubenstein, Artistic Director of CONTACT. “Beginning with Lake Ontario and Toronto Island as her subject, Johnson’s magnificent new site-specific mural has transformed this city block into a magical place.”

About Partners In Art
Founded in 2002, Partners in Art (PIA) is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit corporation of Toronto art supporters with an interest in promoting the visual arts in Canada in two ways: first, by partnering with established arts organizations on collaborative fund-raising projects; and secondly, by furthering members’ own understanding and knowledge of the visual arts through an active education program.

The group cultivates alliances among artists, curators, educators, businesses, and the public to develop vital and exciting contemporary art projects that raise the awareness of Canadian art and artists nationally and internationally. In the past 13 years, PIA has raised more than $1.2 million in sponsorship dollars. The group solicits sponsors to fund its activities, organizes fundraising events, and accepts donations from the public.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms.