Every May, Toronto finds itself bursting at the seams with photos as the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival fills nearly every corner of the city. With almost 200 shows, it’s almost impossible to catch everything, so we’ve assembled a list of can’t-miss queer picks.
Optimism as Cultural Rebellion
1150 Queen Street W
The Drake is a place to drink, dance and (eventually) hook up, which makes it a fitting venue for hot shit Brit Matthew Stone’s entangled nudes. Mixing sculpture and dance with photography, his images are formed by bringing people together in temporary social sculptures and recording the results. While the bodies echo the muscle-bound nudes of Michelangelo, the subjects’ faces are frequently obscured, leaving the viewer to contemplate their twisted forms, rejecting judgments associated with race, gender and sexuality.
519 Parliament St
Craig Chambers’ snaps are presented at the Parliament Street joint long favoured by bike couriers and known for its legendarily surly staff. His images feature local dance artists, ranging in age from 25 to 60, in the buff (including Daily Xtra fave Sky Fairchild-Waller). Chambers previously shot movers-and-shakers fully clothed, but ditching the duds in this collection meant revealing the aspects of their bodies that audiences normally miss on stage. Though naked performance tends to produce a fixation on boobs and balls, Chambers aimed to emphasise more subtle elements: bone structures, joints, skin tones and tendons.
Flesh + Stone
Olga Korper Gallery
17 Morrow Ave
If there’s one photographer any homo can name, it’s Robert Mapplethorpe. The American artist shot to fame in the mid-’80s with his edgy images of gay sexuality and SM culture. But Olga Korper’s current show by the late courter of controversy has a lot of images not contained in the copious books nestled on gay shelves everywhere, focusing on Mapplethorpe’s ability to blur the lines between human and non-human subjects. Images like his marble statue series and shots of body builder Lisa Lyon show a less well-known side, bringing remarkable sensuality to inanimate objects and a kind of clean purity to the naked body.
45 Ernest Ave
The Montreal-based Bouchard has long focused on sharing the realities of those living on the margins. Fetishists, nudists, tattoo-enthusiasts and Medievalists have all made an appearance in front of his camera. His current series features 16 portraits of trans men, ranging in age from 20 to 40, each accompanied by a biographical statement written by the subject. The large-scale images reveal his subjects’ bodies and stories unadorned, paying homage to their strength and sacrifice in their journeys of self-realization.
Featuring Claudette Abrams, Holy Jackal, Brendan George Ko, and others
Artscape Gibraltar Point
443 Lakeshore Ave
No Hogtown summer would be complete without a trip to the Toronto Islands. But while many are familiar with the charms of the beaches, cycling paths and cruising grounds, Artscape’s group exhibition offers an unconventional view of the well-known area. Capturing spontaneous performances, temporary sculptures,and beach-goers’ refuse, the show touches on themes of homelessness, racism, gender equality and ecological impacts, with a mix of serious contemplation and playful goofiness.
Contact Photography Festival
Friday, May 1 – Sunday, May 31