Exposure 2022 — Selections
Canada is celebrating its annual photography festival this February in the province of Alberta and we could not miss the date. Exposure is a non profit society established in 2004 and has been organising different photography events and exhibitions, always maintaining a special interest on emerging talent from the region.
After all these years, its audience has become more international and allowed the festival to connect with curators and photography professionals from the United States, Europe and beyond. This year’s programme has increased, presenting over 40 shows in different cities such as Calgary, Banff, Canmore, Edmonton, Grimshaw, Red Deer and Lethbridge, hosted by galleries, local business and outdoors. Exposure 2022 wants to acknowledge the richness of Canadian heritage and land. The programme warns about the recent situation of the environment and opens a dialogue that involves tradition and inheritance.
These artists and shows are some of our picks from this edition. We selected some of the exhibitions that present the best emerging talent in Canada and worldwide. Don’t forget to explore the festival’s programme and enjoy this monthly ‘Selections’.
Let’s begin with one of the Open Calls dedicated to emerging photographers. The Exposure 2022 International Open Call has been juried by Julie Crooks (Curator of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario) and will be presented at Contemporary Calgary from 10th to 27th February 2022.
This exhibition incorporates visual artists that explore photography’s boundaries. Selected artists criticise socio-political issues and examine personal narratives.
From all the exhibiting artists, we selected 5 to briefly present their practice.
Originally from Saudi Arabia, Aljohara grew up in Northern Europe after living in various countries. She settled in Saudi Arabia, three years ago, where she has become an important versatile artist with a body of work based on observations. Aljohara has been witness to the cultural metamorphosis of her country and has been able to portray the contemporary reality of Saudi Arabia without putting aside its history and traditions. In her practice, she explores the cultural landscape as a tool to reflect the lights and shades of her nation.
Bindi Vora was selected to be part of the International Open Call with her project Mountain of Salt (2020–2021), an expansive work that includes found images, texts and collages. In relation to the global pandemic, Bindi analysed the innumerable news and information that was shared by politicians and journalists. The whole project focuses on the language that has been used over the last years when they’ve shared their updates or thoughts on the virus status. This period brought collective phrases and a specific rhetoric of mutual responsibility, togetherness and unity. With these series we acknowledge that texts, combined with photographs represent a form of language that creates a specific effect on us.
With a strong background in filmmaking and classical art, Fang Tong’s works transmit a controlled narrative which is left to the viewer to resolve the scene. Carefully planned and framed, Tong’s photographs present subtle details and references that could be related to traditional painting. The scenes suggest a backstory, offering a metaphysical atmosphere where the audience has to find out what is really happening. She creates and brings the viewer to its own surreal world, a strangely familiar place inside people’s subconsciousness.
Tidewater is a low-lying coastal region in Eastern Virginia, an area where five rivers converge into the Atlantic Ocean. Floods are something common in this zone, a lot of road signs are visible for the tourists and paradoxically, the construction industry is on the rise. This ‘boom’ has been accelerated over the last few years. With her body of work, Greta Pratt wants to give image and voice to a problem that is slowly and silently increasing, as the water comes closer to the area provoking numerous difficulties to its residents.
One of the projects selected for this Open Call was The Ascent of Us, by Sarah Barker. In these series of photographs, Sarah spent the lockdown period observing through her window located in her third floor apartment in Australia. She documented all the people that passed beneath her balcony, without revealing their race, sexual identity, faith or politics. Her main interest was to open a dialogue with the audience about our shared humanity, forgetting all the post-created differences that the pandemic forced to pull ourselves apart.
With all the talent that the festival presents, we thought it could be interesting for our readers to give space for the second Open Call focused on Emerging Photographers based in Alberta province. Curated by Hana Kaluznick (Assistant Curator in the Department of Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum) this exhibition will be also presented at Contemporary Calgary from 10th to 27th February 2022, and hosts some of the best early-career talent which provide an insight into Alberta’s community and artistic sector.
Daniela Szeoke is a Venezuelan-Hungarian-Canadian artist with an Indigenous background. In her work Venezuela, Mi Patria Querida, Daniela explores the Venezuelan female identity through self-portraits. Using limited materials such as fabrics, paper and masks, she constructed different personas around bright and unconventional colours. Daniela connected directly with her roots by rediscovering Venezuelan pop culture icons, which she related and used to evaluate the current socio-political, economic and environmental situation that the country is experiencing.
Google Street View can be used as a source for sightseeing nowadays. The option to digitally travel is something that we have been experiencing for a while. Hesam Rezaei began these series in order to understand this phenomenon, how our perception changes and affects our aesthetic experiences. Looking at his images we realise that perception doesn’t come from seeing and it is something that could be easily manipulated. In his works, Hesam Rezaei shows its own perception of Calgary, offering, as Google Maps, just visual information, but leaving the other senses on a side.
Jeremy Fox feels attracted to urban night photography. The possibility of catching a glimpse of a scene, the quietness, the bulb lights in the streets; makes the night the best scenario for Jeremy’s work. He explores the city trying to find the ordinary that will potentially become a remarkable picture. His fascination with composition, lighting and technique, made photography the best medium to create his outstanding body of work.
A room can tell a lot of stories of the person that lives in it. It has a lot of information for the viewer and displays a context to find out who are the subjects of the image. Ryan Lee conceived his series In My Room to present the narrative potential that photography has. All the details on each image, from what is visible to what’s not, tell us something about who those people are and how they handle their privacy, dreams, fears or even problems. These spaces are contextual containers where people can be free and direct their own perspective of life.
Combining different artistic practices, Farah Al Qasimi presents the complexities of overlapping cultures and context at the same time. Featuring new and recent works, Letters for Occasions will be exhibited at the Esker Foundation from 29th January to 26th June 2022. The show focuses on the artist’s family migration story from the United Arab Emirates to the United States, a pop culture vision of the global movements mixed with Al Qasimi’s personal aesthetic. Her works show small parts of the private and public surroundings that connect adornment with identity, exploring how we build a self-image through our context.
The Esker Foundation will also be presenting a solo exhibition by Michelle Bui. Naked Excess runs from 22nd January to 26th June 2022, and constitutes a reflection of the processes of accumulation, presentation and inevitable decay that our daily objects have. Michelle Bui’s images make us understand our relationship with these objects, our appetite for them, and as a last resort, question our excessive consumption culture. The bright colours in the back of the images suggest the use of plastic in our daily life and also is a glimpse to commercial photography, which connects with the pop culture vision that the whole body of work has.
From 18th February to 24th April 2022, The Southern Alberta Art Gallery will be showing Prairie Invasions: A Hymn, a solo exhibition by Emily Neufeld. The show is a direct invitation into observation, an intricate mesh of interactions between people, places and patterns of thought that come from the European colonisation period. Emily explores abandoned spaces and intervenes in order to find their historical meaning. Her work invites us to contemplate the ruins from the past and reckon our collective inheritance. A lot of feelings arise from her way to study history, some of them present contradictions which are important to face in order to move forward with them.