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CONTACT’s Last Weekend

Time is about to run out on photography lovers who have put their gallery-going off until the end of the month. Now that it’s the end of the month, my plan is to tell you where to find the best (and avoid the worst) of the fest.

I had some fun turning Scott McFarland’s mural into a tromp l’oeille in black and white

Where to begin is a bit arbitrary, since there are several can’t-miss shows. On no account can you miss the Sanaz Maziani’s wall-sized photographic structures at the Stephen Bulger Gallery at Queen just west of Ossington. If you’re well versed in the annals of photography go there first.

But I’m a bit of a geek about the history of photography, so I’m going to steer the rest of you to MOCCA (On Queen West just west of Shaw), where two exhibitions explore the theme of public space and private identity. Don’t miss the 12 x 20′ mural by Scott McFarland on your way in. Amazingly, most people pass by without noticing it!

Start with the “Street View” exhibition – a history of photography in the gallery to the left as you enter. It looks dark, but it’s not – just reverent lighting appropriate for what’s housed there: works by 20th century masters Henri Cartier-Bresson, Weegee, Lisette Model, Helen Levitt, Leon Levenstein and Bruce Gilden.

As the gallery above attests, nothing whatsover has to be said of this wonderful work, and anything one can think of will only add context. In that fact it stands in striking contrast to many other CONTACT exhibitions, including part of the second grouping at MOCCA titled Public: Collective Identity/Public Space.

There’s some wonderful work there (included in the gallery above), including Michael Wolf’s nearly religious study of Tokyo commuters, Jon Rafman’s google lifts (housed at another venue) and Baudoin Mouanda’s wonderful street photography. But too much of it needs words to give it value: Sort of an upside down adage – one footnote is worth a thousand images. Way too often those words are loftier than anything on view. It’s a shame that the festival is so caught up in art theory that is often a cover for bad art. There’s a lot of it, but I’ll steer you clear.

Next, you’ll have to choose between Sanaz Maziani at Stephen Bulgar, or the Angell Gallery at 12 Ossington, to see the work of Jon Rafman. Luckily they’re only a block apart – and both are subjects for follow up posts.

A final admission: This isn’t officially the last weekend of the festival. But really, you need the extra push, don’t you?

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