May: Virtual Highlights

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Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

Virtual photo fair

The annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, which spans the month of May, has migrated online in light of Covid-19. New and existing work by local and international artists usually take over museums, gallery spaces, and public sites across Toronto, Canada. However, with the majority of these locations closed, the festival has launched a wealth of virtual programs. In Focus presents photo-based projects from artists including Alberto Giuliani, who exhibits his ongoing series of images documenting front-line workers at the San Salvatore Hospital, Pesaro, Italy. Meanwhile, Artist Profiles extends beyond the original festival programme and comprises conversations, writings, and images from artists due to be featured at CONTACT 2020, including Tereza Zelenkova. Visit the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival to browse the full virtual programme.

Silvia Giulianelli — a nurse in the intensive care unit © Alberto Giuliani.

UNIFORM into the work / out of the work

Virtual exhibitions, MAST Foundation

“Museums and exhibition spaces are closed, which means the experience of art and photography in these physical spaces will not be possible for a while,” comments Urs Stahel, the curator of the MAST Foundation in Bologna. “As space is not an option, content and statements by the artists can help us to experience art in a different, but also in an intense, direct and complex way.” In response to Covid-19, MAST has launched an extensive digital initiative, including an extension of the exhibition Uniform into the work/out of the work, which interrogates the history of workwear via over 600 images from photographers worldwide. The digital initiative comprises a guided tour of the show by Stahel, alongside additional presentations by featured artists. Material from the Foundation’s digital archive will also be published weekly — a recent video features Indian artist Dayanita Singh’s explanation of her Museum of Machine, exhibited at MAST in 2016.

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Schoolgirls on Azumakofuji near Fukushima. Japan. 2005 © Andri Pol.

The Ryerson Image Centre

Image archive, artist talks and panel discussions, podcasts

The Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto, Canada, comprises almost 375,000 objects — from historical photographs by the likes of Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith, and Edward Steichen, to the work of contemporary practitioners. Along with individual images, the centre also hosts the archives of several artists, which are available to view, in part, online; highlights include the Jo Spence Memorial Archive and the Black Star Collection, featuring work shot over a period of eighty years for the Black Star photo agency in New York City. Over 60 videos of artist talks and panel discussions are also available, alongside the centre’s podcast — recent episodes include Rethinking colonial images and Art as activism.

Jo Spence in collaboration with Rosy Martin. ​Infantilisation​. 1984 (printed 2010), from ​The Picture of Health?​, 1982–1986, inkjet print © Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre.

If I were …

Interactive project

Initiated by the Hauts-de-France Region, in collaboration with Les Rencontres d’Arles, the Institut pour la photographie opened to the public on 12 October 2019 with the cultural program extraORDINARY: Photographic perspectives on everyday life. The second programme EN QUÊTE was due to open this spring, however, it has been delayed until September 2020 due to Covid-19. Instead, the Institut has launched an interactive project, which will enable it to create its first exhibition produced through public participation, which will be on show as part of EN QUÊTE. In collaboration with WIPPLAY, the Institut invites the public to send several photographs in response to a series of questions: “If I were… a landscape? If I were… an object? If I were… a moment?” A selection of these will also be exhibited online; the deadline for submissions is 30 May 2020.

Virtual Assembly

Online book fair

“We saw publishers struggling because their primary source of income had been lost,” explains Jason Koxvold, the founder of independent publisher Gnomic Book, and now Virtual—Assembly: an online book fair that launched on 24 April. The fair comprised an impressive line-up of virtual discussions programmed by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, between artists and writers including Jason Fulford and Sohrab Hura, and Justine Kurland and Sasha Phyars-Burgess. Alongside the live programme, more than 50 publishers — including Loose Joints, MACK, Mörel Books, and Self Publish, Be Happy — presented new publications, displayed via video. This content will be available to purchase forever, and a second round of talks are currently in the works.

© Virtual Assembly.

Lee Miller: A Life On The Frontline

Documentary avaialble through BBC iPlayer until the end of the month 

When Lee Miller (1907 – 1977) returned to New York from Europe in October 1932, newspaper reporters were waiting to greet her as her ship docked. She smiled for the journalists as she disembarked in a smart beret and fur-collared coat, and when one referred to her as “one of the most photographed girls in Manhattan”, she retorted, “I’d rather take a picture than be one”.

Lee Miller: A Life On The Frontline celebrates one of the most remarkable female icons of the 20th century. A model turned photographer turned war reporter, Miller chose to live her life by her own rules. The one-off documentary celebrates a subject who defied anyone who tried to pin her down, put her on a pedestal or pigeonhole her. It tells the story of a trailblazer, often at odds with the morality of the day, who refused to be subjugated by the dominant male figures around her.

100 years of Helmut Newton 

Online exhibition by Newlands House Gallery

Newlands House Gallery in West Sussex, UK, has launched a digital exhibition of their most recent show celebrating 100 years since the prolific fashion photographer’s birth, HELMUT NEWTON 100. Available through Instagram’s video service, IGTV, as well as the gallery’s Facebook page, the exhibition was launched with a short film that guides viewers through the gallery, offering glimpses of rare prints that have never before been publicly displayed in the UK. Further content will be published throughout May, including a short interview series, Friends of Helmut, as well as discussions with guests such as Mary McCartney and Juergen Teller.

Celia, Miami, 1991. © Helmut Newton.

Kolga Tbilisi Photo 2020

The virtual festival will be going live at 4pm (BST) on 07 May 

Antarctica: The Oldest Ice on Earth. © Ian van Coller.

Kolga Tbilisi Photo returns for its ninth edition, except this year, its virtual. Exhibitions include a photo series by Ian Teh, which documents an expedition along the headwaters of the Yellow River in China, and Ian van Coller’s project on glaciers in Antarctica, part of his ongoing fascination with ice as an archive of the earth’s atmosphere. Elsewhere, Fabio Sgroi exhibits his ongoing exploration of his home in Italy, Tales of Sicily, and Nina Korhonen shares a story about her grandmother, shot over the course of 30 years, exploring her immigration to the US from Finland and her search for “Wonderland America”. Kolga Tbilisi Photo 2020 kicks off with a live opening and awards ceremony on 07 May at 4pm (BST).

Hannah Abel-Hirsch

Hannah Abel-Hirsch joined British Journal of Photography in 2017, where she is currently Assistant Editor. Previously, she was an Editorial Assistant at Magnum Photos, and a Studio Assistant for Susan Meiselas and Mary Ellen Mark in New York. Before which, she completed a BA in History of Art at University College London. Her words have also appeared on Magnum Photos, 1000 Words, and in the Royal Academy of Arts magazine.