SHARON SWITZER: SHADOW PLAY at the Koffler Gallery (4588 Bathurst, 416-636-1880, ext 268), May 3 to June 10, opening 7-9 pm May 3, artist's talk 6 pm.
BREATH TAKING: SUE LLOYD and KELLY McCRAY, curated by CARLA GARNET and SHARON SWITZER, at Gallery TPW (80 Spadina, 416-504-4242) until May 12.
There's plenty of queer content in CONTACT. Sharon Switzer gets hers in both as an artist, exhibiting an installation based on digitally manipulated antique photos of children, and as a curator, presenting deeply allegorical work by Sue Lloyd and Kelly McCray. Aesthetically these three artists seem to have little in common - until you scratch the surface and come up with pure poetry.
PETRA GERSCHNER at the Goethe-Institut (163 King West, 416-593-5257), May 5 to August 31, opening 2-5 pm May 5.
Politically savvy young Germans do guilt really well. Munich-based activist and artist Petra Gerschner challenges viewers to confront their own ethnic biases in works ranging from appropriated packaging to studio portraits of a model wearing a head scarf wrapped to imply a dozen nationalities.
Gerschner's brilliance lies in finding humour in what she analyzes. Talking about her From Home series of images lifted from tourism brochures, she quips, "I looked at hundreds of pamphlets from around the world and realized that all that matters is the deck chair beside the pool." DIY DOCUMENTS
ANNE FAUTEUX: LE BUREAU DES OBJETS LYRIQUES MIGRATEURS/THE LIBRARY PROJECT at Gallery 44 (401 Richmond West, 416-979-3941), May 3 to June 2, opening 6-8 pm May 3.
when is a hat not a hat? panel talk with ANNE FAUTEUX, susan douglas, jeanne randolph and dot tuer, moderated by katy mccormick, 7:30 pm May 22, at Ryerson University's School of Image Arts (122 Bond). 416-979-3941.
Anne Fauteux orchestrates an interactive audience-participation performance art piece with her Library of Lyrical Migrating Objects. The multidisciplinary artist (trained in anthropology as well as fine arts, Fauteux has been teaching jewellery making in the Arctic) fills the Gallery 44 space with surreal tools and garments suspended from the ceiling. She invites people to borrow items, head out of the gallery confines into the real world, and document the experience by taking snapshots of themselves.
These then form the photographic component of the aptly named artist's work, an experience that is guaranteed to be memorable, and even inspired.
BORN IN THE USA
TONY GLEATON: AFRICA'S LEGACY IN LATIN AMERICA at Wedge Gallery (676 Richmond West, 416-504-9641), May 6 to 31, Sat-Sun noon-5 pm, opening 2-5 pm May 6 (other times by appointment only); artist's lecture at the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall (317 Dundas West, 416-977-0414), May 7 at 7:30 pm. $10/door.
Worried about free trade zones and the USA? Check out Detroit-born, L.A.-based photographer Tony Gleaton's talk at the Art Gallery of Ontario May 7. This ex-Marine and Vietnam vet is very eloquent in stating that any man born in the country that thinks of itself as America will have a hard time having any global perspective at all.
Gleaton dropped out of fashion photography because, he says, "I was a 32-year-old African-American man propping up an industry that was counter to my own interests."
He thumbed around the Southwest photographing black cowboys long before Will Smith made Wild, Wild West, then headed into Mexico and shot a body of work that the Smithsonian toured for five years. Lately he's been shooting in Samoa and now has his sights on northern Alberta.
Gleaton swears his work is less about being black than about being "other," something he knows he may never be able to grasp fully since he can't stop being a man who was born in the USA. But his art - on view in the tiny residential gallery of Toronto's funkiest dentist, Kenneth Montague - totally gets it.
BEAM US UP
ANONG BEAM, JOHN ARMSTRONG, HAMISH BUCHANAN, TOM DEAN and SIMON GLASS at Edward Day Gallery (33 Hazelton, 416-921-6540), May 1 to 27, opening 2-4 pm May 5.
CARL BEAM: THE WHALE OF OUR BEING at DeLeon White Gallery (1096 Queen West, 416-597-9466), May 26 to July 21/
Don't expect to see Anong Beam's name (or the name of anyone else on Edward Day Gallery's CONTACT 01 group show lineup, including Tom Dean, this year's winner of the Governor General's Award for visual arts) on any official festival lists. It has something to do with what happens when a venue buys a display ad in the program but doesn't shell out for a listing.
It's a blank that underscores the fact that what makes CONTACT work is the sheer critical mass of photo shows, talks and workshops that inundate T-dot through May. The festival is much more than its official components.
Beam - barely 21 years old and fresh out of OCAD - is catching a lot of attention as a second-generation artist, following the path laid out by parents Carl Beam and Ann Beam.
Anong's huge canvases owe a lot to the distinctive photo-emulsion transfer technique pioneered by her famous father, who loathes the distinction of being the first First Nations artist to be collected by the National Gallery of Canada. Her stuff is fresh, tasty and definitely worth watching.
Carl's latest body of work is also being shown under the CONTACT umbrella, which is a bit of a stretch but will help publicize the the DeLeon White Gallery's new location, since Beam's solo shows are big deals. This work ranks as his most painterly, with cornea-searing colours. Could be the influence is going both ways.
More pic picks
If you can only get to one place for CONTACT, head to Harbourfront Centre for five solid photo-based shows plus the festival's launch party (Tuesday, May 1, 6 to 10 pm). In addition to the Power Plant's excellent Substitute City (reviewed in NOW, March 29-April 4), don't miss York Quay Gallery's Lux Nova, with an A-list of artists (including Dianne Bos, Amee King and Bethany DeForest) exploring the fringes of low-tech imaging. Saturday, April 28, to June 10. 235 Queen's Quay West. 416-973-3000.
Want to really do the CONTACT scene? Check out the festival's official Meeting Place, the NOW Lounge (189 Church, 416-364-1301). Super Close showcases regular NOW contributors Debra Friedman, Kathryn Gaitens, David Laurence, David Lee, Steve Payne, John Scully, Kristin Sjaarda and Paul Till and runs tomorrow (Friday, April 27) through May 31, with an opening Wednesday (May 2) from 7 pm. There are also some fab one-offs like the Speechless postcard collection launch, with Jennifer Long, Natalie Schonfeld, April Hickox and seven more, 7 to 11 pm May 16.
If you like to be mesmerized by sheer beauty, May is packed with plenty of aesthetic highs.
Emerging artist Kathleen Finlay captures fleeting moments in lyrical, large-format Polaroids, getting a solo show at Gallery One (121 Scollard, 416-929-3103) May 5 to 24.
Kevin Kelly's large-format black-and-white portraits of local drag kings and queens become transcendent with an experimental new solarized printing technique, at Elevator (9 Davies, 416-406-3131) May 7 to 25.
Jane Corkin Gallery showcases strobe inventor Harold Edgerton's pioneering pix from the 1930s, May 3 to June 6. 179 John, 416-979-1980.
Yau Leung, who died two years before Hong Kong's lease ran out, ranks as the premiere chronicler of that city. Lee Fotogallery (993 Queen West, 416-504-9387), Wednesday (May 2) till June 9.
Rust has never looked as good as in Edward Burtynsky's large-format prints of the infamous Shipbreaking yards on the Indian Ocean, at Mira Godard Gallery (22 Hazelton, 416-964-8197) until May 5.
Volker Seding's lyrical architectural portraits of building facades from Toronto, New York City and Havana grace Stephen Bulger Gallery (700 Queen West, 416-504-0575) May 5 to June 9.
Bill King worked as a cruise-ship pianist to get access to remote locations including the San Blas Islands, off Panama, where he photographed the Kuna people, at Dooney's (511 Bloor West, 416-536-3293). Tuesday (May 1) to May 31.
Beverley Abramson went to Cuba to shoot living legends the Buena Vista Social Club but came back with much more, including cigar czar Don Alejandro Robaina. In Cuba, he's bigger than Castro. Koyman Galleries @ Eatons (290 Yonge, 416-349-7111 ext 5104) from Tuesday (May 1) to June 2.
As with any non-juried event, there will always be shows that suck. Here are some good bets, but if you want to shop around, pick up a CONTACT 01 program book at any LCBO, or go online to www.contactphoto.com.