Thursday, May 6, 2010


Many top local photographers had their official openings this evening as the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival nears the first week mark around Toronto. Although originally situated in the city's Queen West area, Lens Factory studio had just relocated to the opposite end of the city in The Beaches, resulting in a very last minute shuffle for Toronto-based photographers Kevin Charlie and Janet Taylor.  They took the situation in stride, still hopeful of a proper turnout, rewarding guests amazingly with possibly the most gratuitous and carefully thought-out selection of appetizers and beverages I've seen at any of the openings I've attended thus far.

Charlie's Stimulus exhibit had a common thread of photographed eyes. He indicates that on a daily basis we are bombarded with visual stimuli, impacting the way we live our lives. Seen in some of his work are images of Oprah Winfrey, the Lavalife logo, the word "SIN" and in one self-portrait an image of himself craftily reflected onto his eye.  Charlie's collection is a clear illustration of what this year's festival is about - the unavoidable impact of media on our culture and self-perception. His signature piece in this collection (seen on the far left of this photo) holds much personal sentiment to him as the self-portrait was taken at an emotional phase in his life not too long ago.   One can sense this in the chilling moodiness evoked through the photograph. Learn more about Kevin Charlie here.

Sharing a space with Charlie, is Taylor whose Significant Presence collection interestingly takes advertisements and commercial branding billboards and kiosks, subjecting them to long exposure. What results are patches of glowing nothingness where distinguishable signage would normally be, although we might actually notice them more in absentia. As Taylor puts it succinctly with her exhibit, advertising has infiltrated the world we live in regardless of where we are in this city - in the heart of hectic Dundas Square or the secluded train tracks by the Lakeshore - perhaps to the point they mean nothing to us as they have become second nature to us. Taylor's gorgeous black and white collection, shot mostly around Christmas 2009, is definitely something to be seen and you can learn more about her here.

Both Stimulus and Significant Presence will be showing at Lens Factory (2186 Queen St. E, just east of Main St.) until May 27th.

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