Purists might balk, but there was a new trend this year when it came to international photographers submitting their work for the Exposure Photography Festival.
“What we’re seeing for the first time this year is basically moving images and video pieces that have been submitted and included in the show,” says festival co-ordinator Bethany Kane. “Also, there’s photo montage and photo collage. Instead of straight photography, there are all these interpretations of how to use the medium in different ways.”
While this specific tweak might be new, it reflects the general evolution in scope of both the work displayed at Exposure over the past 16 years and the photography world in general. This is Kane’s first year with Exposure, but follows her stint as co-ordinator of the FORMAT International Photography Festival, the largest photography festival in the U.K.
“I really wanted to open it up this year with the open call,” Kane says. “Photography isn’t just photographs. You can experiment with photography, do different things with photography to open things up a little bit and see what people are working on.”
The Exposure Photography Festival is a sprawling, month-long celebration that includes exhibits throughout the city and into Cochrane, Banff, Canmore, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Exposure curated a number of exhibits, three of which will be housed until April 26 in the festival’s new headquarters at Contemporary Calgary.
They include the International Open Call, which will feature artists from Indonesia, Dublin, Los Angeles, Montreal, Birmingham and Derby, U.K. A showcase for 15 emerging photographers from Alberta will also be exhibited as will Our Closets by Calgary’s Boon Ong. Ong was the recipient of Exposure’s 2019 Emerging Photographer of the Year award, which earned him the opportunity a solo show in 2020. Having explored his own coming out story through photography, his series chronicles other people’s journey “out of their own closets,” which he defines as “anything that holds us back from our full expression of self, whether sexuality, health, experiential stagnation or unfulfilling employment.”
Ong is certainly not the only artist at the festival working in high-concept themes. This year will also see the return of The FENCE, a travelling exhibition that has been shown in seven U.S. cities, including Boston, Atlanta, Denver and New York. Photographers, including eight from Western Canada, were asked to riff on general themes of home, streets, people, creatures, nature, play and food.
But the exhibits curated by Exposure are just the tip of the iceberg. More than 40 exhibits in Calgary and beyond will be displayed throughout February under the festival’s banner. These range from The News Photographers Association of Canada Pictures of the Year at Brookfield Place, which celebrate the best of the country’s photojournalism; to the Glenbow Museum’s exhibition of street photographer Vivian Maier; to Mitch Kern’s surreal Conundrums at the Herringer Kiss Gallery, a series of works “where man and beast are conflated with nature and culture” in an fictionalized environment based on southern Alberta.
“What’s really nice is that these exhibitions are happening in big, established arts spaces such as Glenbow and Arts Commons, but also office buildings such as Brookfield Place and artist-run spaces and non-art spaces such as Holy Grill,” Kane says. “These exhibitions are basically everywhere. You can’t miss them. If you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily go to arts spaces or artist-run spaces, you can come across exhibitions in a laundromat or a bar or restaurant, too. That’s the great thing about Exposure, you can see photography throughout the city.”
The Exposure Photography Festival officially runs until Feb. 29, although exhibits have different start and end dates. For a full list of exhibits, dates and venues, visit exposurephotofestival.com.
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Featuring the music and talents of eight Saskatoon bands, The Bassment presents InTune 2021 — a free online party playing from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The shows will be streamed live through the Bassment’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
3. Check out local performers
Watch as some of Saskatoon’s performing artists share their work in Episode 1 of Persephone Theatre’s Open Stage, which was published earlier this month. The episode is available to watch whenever you want at persephonetheatre.org and features Peace Akintade, Kathie Cram, Amanda Trapp, Sketchy Bandits, Carla Orosz and Ellen Froese.
4. Have some family fun
The Fuddruckers Family Fun Centre (2910 8th St. E) is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday, weather permitting. Families can practice their skills on the 18-hole Putt N’ Bounce miniature golf course, reach new heights on The Rock climbing wall or take a swing at the Grand Slam batting cages. More information is available at fudds.ca or by calling 306-477-0808.
5. Drop off your hazardous waste
The City of Saskatoon is holding its first Hazardous Household Waste Drop Off of the year on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Civic Operations Centre (57 Valley Rd.). The drop off is open to Saskatoon residents from residential properties only. Products eligible for drop off include aerosols, automotive fluids, batteries, cleaners, light bulbs, yard chemicals and more. Learn more at saskatoon.ca/hazardouswaste.
The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.
Its trailer doubles as one of the NWT’s only art galleries. Now, the Yellowknife Artist-Run Community Centre is turning 10 years old.
The group, YK ARCC for short, formed in 2011 in a downtown Yellowknife church scheduled for demolition. “There was always something going on,” recalled Métis artist Rosalind Mercredi, owner of the city’s Down to Earth Gallery, who was YK ARCC’s first president.
“I think it was so good to be able to have a space where people wanted to work on stuff and, if they had bigger projects they wanted to do, there was a space to do it. It was pretty vibrant times, I would say, for art.”
Though the organization stayed in the church for less than a year, it has brought art and shows to Yellowknife since. Temporary homes have included an apartment above a Vietnamese restaurant and empty spaces in the Centre Square Mall.
Casey Koyczan, a Tłı̨chǫ artist from Yellowknife pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba, held some of his first shows with YK ARCC’s help.
“It really helped to be able to show work within an environment that was conducive to more of a fine arts aesthetic as opposed to … a coffee shop, or a pub, or something like that,” said Koyczan, who was on YK ARCC’s board.
“YK ARCC felt like it was getting to more of a formal-exhibit kind of feel.”
‘We need a territorial gallery’
The group made headlines shortly after opening a mobile art gallery in a trailer. At the beginning of the pandemic, the team took art to residents by accepting reservations through Facebook then driving the gallery to make house calls in different neighbourhoods.
“Because it’s so small, we might be the only gallery in Canada that didn’t have to close,” said longtime board member Sarah Swan. “It has a limited capacity. We knew we could still operate it safely.”
Yet the trailer’s success simultaneously illuminated what YK ARCC’s members believe is a glaring deficiency in the NWT: the absence of a territorial gallery.
The cost of rent makes it difficult for the non-profit to hold on to one space for any length of time. Many of the spaces that are available in Yellowknife don’t work well for art shows.
“We need a territorial gallery,” former board member Dan Korver said.
That doesn’t mean a commercial gallery geared toward profit, he clarified. Instead, Korver wants a space where artists can show their work and engage with an audience “for art’s sake.”
The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is the only large-scale, non-commercial, gallery fitting that bill in the NWT. It hosts two fine art exhibits a year.
“It’s just simply not enough,” said Swan. “There are so many more artists and so much more work out there to show, so many more ideas.”
“We created the mobile gallery in the first place to feel that exhibition gap, but also, we created it to be a piece of agitation in itself. That’s why we called it the Art Gallery of the Northwest Territories.
“It’s really pathetic that our territorial gallery is a trailer. We all joke that if there ever is a real gallery of the Northwest Territories that’s not in a trailer, we’ll happily give the name back.”
Koyczan described obstacles in establishing his career that stemmed directly from the lack of a territorial art gallery.
“Back when I was showing at YK ARCC, it wasn’t recognized by the Canada Arts Council,” he said. “Therefore, when you go to apply for grants and funding … and you provide your CV saying that you showed work at YK ARCC, they check their records and say the show basically didn’t exist because they don’t recognize it as a legitimate gallery.
“I’ve had to work really hard on exporting myself and making artwork that is impactful so that, regardless of where I was located, it would be recognized by people in the south, or around North America, or internationally.
“The NWT needs a contemporary gallery. It’s just holding us back, not having that space.”
‘No GNWT mandate’ for a gallery
In a written statement to Cabin Radio, the territorial Department of Education, Culture, and Employment said it has no plan to create a territorial gallery.
The department said it “does not have a mandate to create physical infrastructure for the arts.”
“However,” the response continued, “the GNWT would be happy to work with regional organizations to see how the GNWT can support their plans.”
Korver believes government involvement in creating an artist-run centre or non-commercial gallery should be limited to provision of funding, so any gallery can remain community-driven and independent.
“We need that physical space, but how do you run it?” he wondered. “Is it better to just provide a grassroots organization – or organizations, maybe there shouldn’t just be one – with stable funding so they can provide those spaces and run those spaces?”
Meanwhile, the territorial government is set to release its updated NWT Arts Strategy this June. The previous territorial arts strategy, released in 2004, had identified a need for more arts spaces.
As a gallery owner, Mercredi said she is curious to see how the strategy is implemented.
“You can make a strategy but if the plan doesn’t have an implementation idea behind it, then really just sits,” she said. “How do you implement it when most of the arts organizations don’t have enough infrastructure or people to put those things together?”
Swan said YK ARCC will continue to run its mobile gallery while celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Members have applied for funding to run a series of “emerging curator workshops.”
“Art is our passion,” Swan said. “I think there’s just this drive to share.
“Because we know how good art can be, or how amazing and fully developed it can be, we want to fight for that. We want to try to grow the art community in Yellowknife.”
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