Sunday, May 15, 2016

Scotiabank Photography Festival 2016

It's that time of year again when the Scotiabank Photography Festival takes over all the smaller galleries in Toronto.  I would say it feels less omnipresent than last year, or maybe I am just less interested in the featured exhibits (and they seem to stretch longer into June whereas the Festival proper ends at the end of May).  In any case, there are still several quite interesting things to check out, and I'll just list a few highlights.  For me, it is good that the ones I want to go to do continue into June, since the second half of May is pretty packed.

It's definitely worth starting at the AGO, especially since they are giving out free copies of the Scotiabank Festival program.  It's quite a nice book, and of course without it, you would miss out on almost all the smaller shows.  Outsiders is still running at AGO through May 29.  I saw it twice, including yesterday.  I blocked out enough time to see Pull My Daisy in its entirety (28 minutes or so), which features Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Larry Rivers (with Jack Kerouac narrating), as well as Marie Menken's Go! Go! Go!, which is closer to 15 minutes.  I didn't care much for the super-frenetic pace of Go! Go! Go!, and its choppy style, but I thought I should at least sit through it.  While the selection of Garry Winogrand photographs is decent, the way they have displayed them is not at all aesthetically pleasing.  I saw much better Winogrand exhibits in San Francisco and Washington D.C.  What does work well is the room dedicated to Gordon Parks.  It is worth checking out the exhibit just to see these photos close up.

Gordon Parks, Rosie Fontenelle Cleans the Bathtub, Harlem, New York, 1967

The other rooms are ok, with a few interesting images by Diane Arbus, as well as a room of secret photos of cross-dressers.  Then things get even more "transgressive" with Nan Goldin's photos and Danny Lyon's photos of a motorcycle club, but I just didn't find them particularly interesting.

In terms of the other major photography exhibit at the AGO (Thomas Ruff), I didn't think this was at all worth installing, so I won't bother writing about it.

After the visit to the AGO, I went across the street but was frankly not that impressed with the Bau-Xi Gallery or even Bau-Xi Photo.  Last year at this time, they had more interesting work on display.

I then walked over to Spadina.  I was hoping to see this exhibit called Jane at Home, which was celebrating Jane Jacobs and her work in Toronto.  I think this was supposed to be at Richmond and Spadina, but after not seeing any signs or posters in the general vicinity, I looked it up on my phone, and I missed the exhibit by a week.  Sad trombone...

I kept walking south on Spadina and came across one of the more interesting billboards associated with the Scotiabank festival.

Eva Stenram, Drape (Print 1), 2014

Apparently, had I gone just a bit further south to Spadina and Front, I would have seen some additional billboards.  (Instead, I cut east on King.)  Oh well.  I should be able to get there in the next two weeks, particularly on a day I am riding my bike.  I'll also have to keep my eyes open for some photo murals near Metro Hall.  The last one I will seek out is a mural stuck to the side of the Power Plant over at Harbourfront, but that is supposed to stay up all the way to December, so there is plenty of time to get there.

In terms of my recommendations, it probably is worth heading over to the Ryerson Image Centre, as well as seeing the Istanbul Then and Now exhibit running through June 26 at the Aga Khan Museum (though try to arrange not to pay full price!).

I'll try to check out the Alec Soth exhibit at Arsenal Toronto (through June 25 -- actually extended to July 16), though it is a bit off the beaten path.  Finally, I'll see which photos are in the Rodney Graham exhibit at the Prefix Institute, which runs through July 30, so I should have no problem making it (famous last words).  If I am really lucky, they will have The Avid Reader on view, which I featured in this post on Graham.

Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any exhibits featuring Aaron Siskind, and I found out that I will just miss that exhibit on our trip to Chicago (though there is a very slim chance it ends up extending).  What is a bit more surprising to me is that I apparently missed a Siskind exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Photography back in 2003.  I would have been in Chicago at that time, and I was occasionally going over to that part of the South Loop, so I am not sure how I could have missed it.  I guess the saving grace is that the book Siskind 100 has really high quality reproductions, so it is pretty close to being there.  (And apparently, I missed a Siskind exhibit at the Smart Museum at UChicago in early 2009, but that is a little more understandable.)  His gimmick was to shoot close-ups of walls and other surfaces, so that they became essentially abstract images.  This photo of peeling paint actually reminds me a fair bit of Gunther Gerzso, so I'll generate one such pairing.

Gunther Gerzso, Paisaje de Papantla, 1955

No comments:

Post a Comment