Sea ports, subway stations and industrial factories all get close-ups in this month’s city-wide photo fest
During the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, on now throughout May, local and international photographers fill more than 200 galleries, shops, restaurants and community centres with inspiring images that showcase – among other things – the beauty of the urban landscape.
Below, 10 photographers who focus their cameras specifically on architecture and design.
1 Built to Last: Montreal’s Enduring Architecture
IX Gallery, 11 Davies Ave, Ste 101
Old Montreal isn’t the only place you’ll find historic architecture in the French Canadian metropolis. Shot over the past 30 years, this series by David Kaufman looks at the timeless religious, commercial and residential buildings scattered all across the city. Some, like the Banque Nationale building shown above, have been brought into the 21st century with modern signage, but all retain their original character – part of the reason Montreal is such a culture-rich destination.
2 Canada by Rail and by Sea
Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St
As the world’s second largest country by land mass, Canada relies on its transportation infrastructure to link our widely-separated, culturally distinct communities. In this photo series, Scott Conarroe studies railways and ports in the context of their unique natural and architectural surroundings. For instance, a moody shoreline shot of Port aux Basques, Newfoundland captures maritime A-frames engulfed in a foreboding coastal fog.
3 Demolition Site
MOCCA Courtyard, 952 Queen St W
MOCCA is no stranger to demolition – the contemporary art gallery’s current Queen Street West home is being razed in August to make way for a condo development. Here, Jihyun Jung documents the destruction of an apartment mid-rise in Korea. Jung snuck into the complex before its demolition began to paint one of its rooms bright red – his way of acknowledging the love those who once lived in the building have for their former homes.
Union Station Vitrines – Via Rail Concourse, 65 Front St W
Discovered on an Annex street curb in the early 2000s, this collection of Polaroids by amateur photographer Edouard LeBouthillier is a slice of life in Toronto during the ’70s and ’80s. Carefully annotated with dates and captions, the pictures document a downtown in transition. Back then, new attractions like Nathan Phillips Square, the Eaton Centre and the CN Tower – which all feature in LeBouthillier’s shots – were transforming the once-grimy core into the welcoming, tourist-friendly destination it is today. A selection of LeBouthillier’s Polaroids of the CNE are being presented in another show at Archive Wine Bar.
5 Empire x 8
Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St
Experimental filmmaker Phil Solomon uses gameplay footage from Grand Theft Auto IV to pay tribute to Andy Warhol’s 1964 film, Empire. Projected onto a wall, Solomon’s video lasts 48 minutes – the equivalent of 24 hours in the hit video game – and shows GTA’s version of the Empire State Building throughout one day’s worth of virtual weather and sunlight. It’s a contemporary ode to a longtime architectural icon.
6 Fogo: The Ephemeral Isle at Earth’s Edge
Bulthaup Toronto, 280 King St E, Ste 100
Hailed as one of the world’s most spectacular getaways, this small Newfoundland fishing community is home to a strikingly contemporary inn opened last year. Displayed here alongside Bulthaup‘s sophisticated kitchen systems, Alex Fradkin’s gorgeous landscape photos make clear that Fogo Island’s rough, rocky terrain is the perfect complement to starkly beautiful modern design.
7 Incidental Galleries and Endangered Species
The Black Cat, 2186 Dundas St W
For Dominic Bugatto, the city is its own art venue. Incidental Galleries hones in on unexpected but nonetheless enchanting sights encountered during everyday life in the city. Repaired sections of a brick wall, for example, resemble a group of works hung next to one another in an exhibition. Bugatto’s second series, Endangered Species, pays homage to the city’s few remaining phone booths, showing how the advent of new technology has turned a once-prominent fixture of the urban landscape into a novelty.
8 Toronto System
Coolearth Architecture Inc., 386 Pacific Ave
Spacing editor and Toronto Star urban living columnist Sean Micallef is an expert flaneur. Here, he takes a “psychogeographic” approach to documenting the city, conveying not just the appearance of a structures or street corners, but also the feelings they evoke. His trademark wit is also on view: a photo of a dog sitting in front of the Allan Gardens Conservatory is titled “Young Citizen by the Conservatory at Dusk.”
Bau-Xi Photo, 324 Dundas St W
Commuters definitely won’t be used to seeing the TTC like this. Chris Shepherd examines both Toronto and Montreal’s subway systems during unpopulated moments of quiet serenity. While each station is characterized by the same cool concrete, steel and subway tile, Shepherd proves there’s unique beauty to be found below the surface. His compositions put the focus on each station’s staircases and winding hallways – placing the viewer forever in transit.
10 Visible Cities
Nicholas Metivier Gallery, 451 King St W
As fans of Edward Burtysnky can attest, there’s plenty of beauty to be found in industrial landscapes. Here, Ljubodrag Andric studies the interiors and exteriors of factories and other manufacturing facilities, presenting walls divided into strips by their different textures and colours. With no easy way to place each picture into the larger context of the buildings where they were shot (the captions reveal some photos were taken in China; others in San Francisco), many end up resembling intriguing abstract works – a nod, perhaps, to the way that many factory workers are dedicated to assembling only a small component of a finished product.