Toronto’s CONTACT Photography Festival

Officially the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, this month long festival is the largest photography event in the world, featuring over 1,000 artists at nearly 200 venues.

The theme of the 2012 festival is “public,” as the work attempts to explore the chasm between our  private life and public space. Even if you don’t know the difference between a lightbox and a light beer, there’s plenty of reasons to check out this premiere event.

Urban environments are front and centre at this year’s festival. Work by Lynne Cohen (pictured) focusses on seemingly desolate spaces devoid of people. Lynne won the 2011 Scotiabank Photography Award and returns to contact with her exhibition Nothing is Hidden. Running from May 3rd to June 30th at the Design Exchange (234 Bay St.), Cohen’s images of domestic, industrial, leisure and educational spaces are sure to make your own bachelor pad seem slightly less lonesome.

Over  at the AGO, over 120 photographs as well as a handful of never-before-shown books and documents by the late Berenice Abbott will be dispayed. Abott (1891 – 1991) was renowned for her ability to preserve the most fleeting moments  of city life. While her primary  subject was the lights of New  York City, she also dabbled in studio portraiture and scientific photography.

Street View is a sweeping collecting spanning six decades and seven artists, refelecting the changing landscape of street photography as a document of urban life and evolving socio-economic conditions. This isn’t a bunch of art students taking snapshots of hobos. These are visions of the 20th century cityscape that demonstrate a deep understanding of their subject and an attention to detail that draws you in to everything from hard-edged human drama to exacting studies of urban architecture.

Even if you can’t make it to any of the festival’s public exhibits, there are ways to engage with CONTACT with nary a detour from your daily routine. In addition to an iPhone app, Derek Besant’s portraits depicting the random thoughts of strangers will be on display in Toronto’s subway, while the TTC LCD screens will feature images submitted by Torontonians in response to an open call.

The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival runs throughout May at various venues across Toronto.

Image courtesy of CONTACT

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