Contact Photography Festival taking over Toronto

Contact Photography Festival taking over Toronto

The 28th annual CONTACT Photography Festival is underway with dozens of exhibits running citywide for the month of May. 

The festival aims to make the art of photography more accessible to the public and has supported more than 7,500 artists over the last 27 years in developing professional exhibitions, projects and practices.

According to the festival, one of its primary objectives is to address the needs of artists, with the aim of providing a well-rounded and inclusive creative experience for the city and the GTA.

Arielle Bobb-Willis' exhibition 'Furiously Happy' runs May 1–31 at Davisville Subway Station.
Arielle Bobb-Willis’ exhibition ‘Furiously Happy’ runs until May 31 at Davisville Subway Station. (CONTACT/Arielle Bobb-Willis)

“The Festival presents lens-based and mixed-media works by over 250 artists and photographers exploring topics including anti-colonial practices, community-building, Afro-futurism, crip liberation, ceremony and revolution, and personal and collective memory, addressing violent gaps in historical archives,” according to CONTACT’s website.

CONTACT says it presents works by acclaimed and emerging artists, documentary photographers and photojournalists from Canada and around the world.

Exhibitions can be found across the city, from outdoor installations to museums and galleries.

Artists say festivals help with exposure, accessibility 

 Arielle Bobb-Willis’ exhibition ‘Furiously Happy’ will take over Davisville Station. The artist is known for her colourful, unconventional images that focus on the human figure.

“My purpose is to fall in love with as much as I can and photography is a tool that helps me remember all the things I love,” she said, adding she hopes her images bring out different responses from attendees.

“Whatever the feeling is, I just hope people feel something from it,” she said.

Arielle Bobb-Willis applies a “painterly” touch to her photography using vivid colours while documenting her subjects in disjointed positions to highlight the complexities of the human experience.
Bobb-Willis applies a ‘painterly’ touch to her photography, using vivid colours while documenting her subjects in disjointed positions to highlight the complexities of the human experience. (CONTACT/Arielle Bobb-Willis)

Toronto-based artist June Clark has work at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.

“The photographs are from the 70s and 80s when I first arrived in Canada,” she explained.

“I arrived in 1968 and found myself walking around Toronto looking for the familiar, after having been basically wrenched from the community I lived in with my husband at the time in New York. I was trying to discover community.”

Clark says for artists, festivals like CONTACT are a powerful way to reach more people in the community and help make art more accessible to everyone.

“There aren’t that many commercial galleries to accommodate the amount of high calibre artists we have in Toronto,” she said.

According to CONTACT, Witness is presented in tandem with a solo presentation of Clark's work at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
According to CONTACT, ‘Witness’ is presented in tandem with a solo presentation of Clark’s work at the Art Gallery of Ontario. (CONTACT/June Clark)

All of the exhibitions at CONTACT are free and open to the public. The festival runs until May 31, though some exhibition dates extend beyond the end of the month.

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