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A festival for the eyes

Celebrating 25 years, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival returns online and on the streets.

Esmaa Mohamoud, The Brotherhood FUBU (For Us By Us)

Esmaa Mohamoud, The Brotherhood FUBU (For Us By Us), (detail), 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Georgia Scherman Projects.

It’s spring in Toronto, which means festival season! We’re so excited that Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is back, launching online and at select outdoor venues May 1. The festival kicks off with an enhanced digital presence and outdoor installations around Toronto, including Yonge-Dundas Square, Westin Harbour Castle Convention Centre and 460 King Street West (north façade). For the first time ever, each public installation will also be accompanied by a QR code that can be scanned to reveal an audio talk from the artists and/or curator on the work. Reflecting on the current climate, this year’s Festival includes online exhibitions, essays, panels and outdoor installations highlighting the perspectives of BIPOC and women artists, and subjects related to the environment and the pandemic. Indoor exhibitions — including the ones at the AGO — will open later this year, as COVID-19 restrictions lift. 

The AGO is proudly partnering with the Festival once again as part of its exhibitions program. When the AGO reopens, we’re presenting Dawoud Bay, John Edmonds, Wardell Milan and Documents, 1960s – 1970s. And we can’t wait to see two intriquing outdoor installations, described below. For full details about this year’s Festival, and to find a map of the outdoor installations, visit

Still—Your Bubble
Max Dean, McAlister Zeller-Newman, Andrew Savery-Whiteway and Chris Hampton.
May 131

Max Dean, Andrew Savery-Whiteway, McAlister Zeller-Newman, Still Portrait Studio – Abe's Bubble

Max Dean, Andrew Savery-Whiteway, McAlister Zeller-Newman, Still Portrait Studio – Abe's Bubble, 2021. Courtesy of the artists and Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto.

Transforming a well-ventilated trailer into a mobile photo studio, Still—Your Bubble is a new public art project by Toronto artists Max Dean, McAlister Zeller-Newman, Andrew Savery-Whiteway and writer Chris Hampton. Inspired by the itinerant photographers of the 19th century, the mobile photo studio will travel across the city, inviting people to be photographed in their social bubbles. To ensure a socially-distanced public performance, inside the studio the role of photographer has been taken over by several animatronic figures, known as ‘Andy and the lads.’ Pandemic-ready, Still—Your Bubble  invites you to step inside the trailer and have your photo taken and processed on the spot – a memento of a time and a place and a bubble.
Be sure to visit the CONTACT website for details about where and when you can see the mobile trailer. 

Plastic Ocean
Thirza Schaap
May 131

Thirza Schaap, shattered

Thirza Schaap, shattered, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Bildhalle Zürich + Amsterdam

Positioned on the platform level of the Davisville Subway Station in midtown Toronto, Dutch artist Thirza Schaap presents her photographic series, Plastic Ocean, curated by Sarah Knelman. An artistic response to the global issue of plastic waste, Schaap’s gorgeous images feature delicate pastel sculptures that upon closer inspection are seen to be constructed out of scavenged plastic she picked up along the seashore. Schaap and Knelman present a free online conversation about the ins and outs behind the project, May 8 from 1 to 2 pm. 

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