A round up of the best/weirdest things to do this weekend in Toronto…
Friday May 4th
CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL | Various locations
After 16 years the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival has become the preeminent photo event in Toronto with over 1000 local and international artists and journalists exhibiting their work at indoor and outdoor locations across the GTA.
It’s the world’s largest photography event. What makes Contact so remarkable isn’t that’s ability to draw in 1.8 million viewers a year, it’s how it gets their attention. With an open call for submissions, emerging artists are able to reach an incredibly large and receptive audience. Even if you didn’t know about Contact you might have passed by an exhibition on the street and not even realized it.
Take these billboards up at Landsdowne between College and Dundas right now. These could be ads for anything: a camping-chic clothes line, Swedish style neck pillows… But they’re really photos of soldiers sleeping taken by a photojournalist named Tim Hetherington who was killed a year ago this past April in Libya in a mortar attack while covering the conflict there. Hethering’s posthumous work highlights safety concerns for freelance war correspondents.
It seems strange that this years festival’s theme is Public, acknowledging the resurgence of interest in street photography, because the event has always been about displaying the work in public spaces and fostering photography in daily life.
Highlight include Per Kristiansen’s series “Piles” at Mjölk, the Distillary District outdoor installations, the Tim Hetherington “Sleeping Soldiers” billboards at Landsdowne, and Dan Dubowitz’s photos of Fordlandia (not Toronto, the city Henry Ford build in the Amazon).
Various public spaces and galleries, month of May (some exhibits run until July), free
OCAD 97th GRADUATION EXHIBITION | Main Building & Sharp Centre for Design
The graduates of all OCAD U’s faculties are set to take over the entire campus this weekend for the 97th annual Grad Exhibition. Occupying the main building and the Sharp Centre for Design from Friday until Sunday students from all disciplines will be showing their final pieces and thesis work.
“Hypocrite Sinner” by Tabban Soleimani [site]
Drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, criticism and curatorial practice, integrated media and sculpture/installation, advertising, environmental, industrial and graphic design, illustration and jewelry, fibre and ceramics, material art and design. This grad show has got everything. It’s the BIG ONE.
OCAD U Main Building & the Sharp Centre for Design (100 McCaul), Fri: 6.30-11PM, Sat/Sun: 11AM-5PM, free
Also happening Friday…
Saturday May 5th
TORONTO COMIC ARTS FESTIVAL | Toronto Reference Library & other offsite locations
There exists a slight divide in the world of comics. It’s something you hesitate to mention. There are those who enjoy what are called “genre comics”, what the general non-comic reading public in the English speaking parts of the world equate with term. Those being publications about super heroes, soldiers, evildoers, spooky stories and goofy strips fit for the Sunday newspaper. But, thanks to the work of Underground Comix artists and writers like R. Crumb, the late Harvey Pekar and Dave Sim, there’s another category: “art comics” (also known as commix, and underground comics). As much as I loathe to admit it, there is a certain amount of distain from either camp for the other clutch. My problems upon entering a comic book store are two fold. For one, I’m a girl. For another, I don’t care one iota about genre comics. At least, not anymore. When I was a preteen, I was excited to get my step dad’s cast off X-Men single issues, but I have refined tastes now. That is, I know what I like, not to say that I look down on those in the other camp. It just happens.
With this distinction made, I can now say that most comic conventions or festivals are geared towards that other group of comic readers. But more and more self-published art comic types, and imprints like Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly (who survived the Comic Down Turn of the late 80s and early 90s by refining it’s own tastes and introduced North America to Japanese comic masters like Yoshihiro Tatsumi and took a chance on a young American named Adrian Tomine), and Seattles’s Fanatagraphics (home to stalwarts like Ivan Brunetti, Daniel Clowes and Los Bros Hernandez).
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) is best example of an underground comic gather this side of the Seine. Though the festival has grown considerably since it’s first incarnation back in 2003, the central venue for TCAF remains the Toronto Reference Library. Offsite locations this year include the Beguiling’s new kids comic store Little Island.
Drawn & Quarterly’s 2012 Team Line-up
Highlights this year include performances of Kid Kola’s Space Cadet Headphone concerts (now with an additional third show since the first two sold out), Scottland’s Tom Gauld, Norwegian master of minimalist visual narrative Jason, the return after several years away from TCAF hometown hero Brian Lee O’Malley, self publishers such as Nick Maandag, and Internet hero Scott C.
Bonus: Books debuting at TCAF this year.
Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge) Sat: 9AM-5PM, Sun: 11AM-5PM, free
JANE’S WALK | GTA and World Wide
Jane Jacobs had a pretty simple idea: cities should be made for people. While she had no formal training in urban planning, Jacobs had some fresh ideas. Her critique of the modern city, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, has been a great influence on contemporary planners, architects, activists and politicians. It is a seminal work on density, and pedestrian permeability.
(Jane Jacob’s: winning.)
Jacobs saw cities for the ecosystems they are, with their capacity to change, develop, and fail or succeed. She may have started her grassroots effort in New York’s Greenwich Village but Jacobs spent much of her life in Toronto after moving north in 1968. You can thank her for the cancellation of the Spadina Expressway.
Since 2007, during first weekend of May people take to their streets in an effort to get in touch with the neighbourhoods they live, work and hang out in (now nationwide and globally). It also happens to coincide with Jacobs’ birthday. Tours are led my locals residence and often feature an architectural or historical guided element. There are many walks happening this year in Toronto. Like, a lot. There’s a four page PDF of all the walks going on, you’re bound to find something near you. There’s also an iPhone app to help keep you from getting lost in your own ‘hood. If not, take it upon yourself to explore your neighbourhood, or one you’ve never been to but always thought look particularly interesting on foot or by bike, Jane’s preferred mode of transportation.
Find a walk near you, May 5th – 6th, free.
Also happening Saturday…
Sunday May 6th
Yuli’s PP [Artist Profile]