With over 200 exhibitions and events going on--and a new festival planning tool on its website--there's about a bazillion different ways to experience the Contact Photography festival, which officially starts today. In today's National Post, I offer three potential plans: one for smartypantses, one for slatterns, and one for stealth gourmets. Here's an excerpt:
Plan 1: Get Schooled
Legendary Canadian brainiac Marshall McLuhan inspired this year’s Contact theme on the pervasive influence of images, and there’s plenty to engage intellectuals here. Today’s media-wisdom wannabes must see David Rokeby and Lewis Kaye’s Through the Vanishing Point at U of T — which recreates McLuhan’s heady Monday-night seminars in the very classrooms where he once taught (39A Queen’s Park E.) — and set the PVR May 7 at 10 p.m., when TVO airs one of McLuhan’s last interviews. Also key is The Mechanical Bride, another McLuhan-phrase-titled show focusing on branding and media at MOCCA (952 Queen St W). There, Kota Ezawa alters IKEA-catalogue images, while former runwayer Britta Thie acts as both photographer and model. Smart billboard installations by Hank Willis Thomas, Barbara Kruger and Olaf Breuning will prompt double takes on advertising strategies and stereotypes at Spadina and Front, Dundas and McCaul and Queen’s Quay respectively, while Penelope Umbrico’s Pearson Airport installation analyzes the world’s most popular Flickr trope — sunsets. Umbrico’s PM Gallery show of busted eBay TV screens also looks like a bookworm best-of, as does Barbara Probst’s show of perennially savvy multi-angle pics at Jessica Bradley (1518 and 1450 Dundas St. W.). Providing vital information on overlooked realms is another repeat Contact strength: Always Moving Forward, a much-anticipated show of contemporary African photography at Gallery 44 (401 Richmond St. W.) fits the bill, along with journalist Finnbar O’Reilly’s exhibition on the Democratic Republic of Congo at CBC (250 Front St. W.) and Toni Fouhse’s images of Ottawa crack addicts at Pikto (55 Mill St.). The North American premiere of Zineb Sedira’s Middlesea at Prefix (401 Richmond St. W.), including an interview with international übercurator Hans Ulrich Obrist, also beckons. Finally, the Magnum Lecture Series from May 4 to 6 at Ryerson will get you inside the head of the world’s best photographers.
For my picks on the eye- and tummy-appetite fronts, read on at the National Post's blog, Posted Toronto.
Image of Marshall McLuhan from UTAC Contact show Probing McLuhan, via Posted Toronto