Saturday, May 1, 2010


The theme of this year's Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is Pervasive Influence - that is, a look at how the lines between art and media today have become blurred. The two go hand in hand with one another and their influence on the other have become unavoidable.

The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto's trendy Queen West district kicked things off on a grand note this evening after having been closed for a brief duration for renovations. Featured outside the museum was one of the festival's marquee pieces, celebrity photographer David LaChapelle's provocative The Rape of Africa, which just showcased in London a week ago. The photo was presented as a giant mural bursting with rich detail, featuring supermodel Naomi Campbell as an African woman trapped within a chaotic colonial landscape and what appears to be African children demanding their voices heard and ignored. Although its message is nothing new, it is indeed a feast for the eyes and a must-see judging by the many spectators insisting on having their photos taken by it.  LaChapelle apparently is currently busy at work with photography for Mariah Carey's new Christmas album.  Expect salaciousness.

Featured inside the museum as one of the festival's three primary exhibitions The Mechanical Bride, is LaChapelle's soon-to-be iconic Lady Gaga portrait titled Electric Chair.  The photo is exquisitely intricate with its radiant explosion of colour and a treat for any pop culture aficionado. And who better to sum up this year's theme than Lady Gaga herself? She single-handedly straddles the line between media manipulation and artistry like no other.

Also noteworthy at the venue is a media installation featuring screen projections from photographer Jacqueline Hassinik and her Car Girls collection. The collection was compiled from her visits to Auto Shows around the world, illustrating contrasting perceptions of femininity around the world. Gorgeousity.

To learn more about The Mechanical Bride exhibit and its focus on cultural, social and political impact of photos, click here. The exhibit runs from May 1st up to June 6th.  (Photo credit: Mr. Will-W.)

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