Tag Archives: Contact Festival

Nevet Yitzhak: WarCraft

April 4 – May 26, 2019
Koffler Gallery
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Guest Curator: Liora Belford

Spring Opening Reception: Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 7–9 PM | FREE
Artist and Curator Talk: Sunday, April 7, 2 PM | FREE

A Primary Exhibition of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

Shaista Latif: learning the language of my enemies is presented in conjunction with Nevet Yitzhak: WarCraft

Informed by extended research and scholarship, the video and sound installations of Nevet Yitzhak combine archival, photographic and found materials transformed through digital animation, editing and sound treatment. With a critical examination of complex geo-political concerns and the fraught relationships between global powers and the Middle East, her practice raises questions about cultural heritage, suppressed histories, collective forgetfulness, and identity. Living in Israel as a Jewish artist of Kurdish, Syrian and Yemenite heritage, Yitzhak creates work that responds to her context, expressing her minoritized position within Israeli society and her dissent from its current politics.

In her three-channel video installation, WarCraft (2014), Yitzhak makes a poignant statement against war and aggression. The artist looks to the Afghan war rug, a unique product of the region’s traumatic history of conflict and foreign military presence, as a departure point in exploring the significance and potential of this unconventional medium to protest violence and occupation.

The circumstances that determined the emergence of the Afghan war rug remain uncertain. Its origins can be traced back to the 1979 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when weavers began to infuse traditional patterns with imagery of war. At first, the new designs were mostly hidden within a stylized iconography, communicating a subtle act of resistance to the invasion and documenting the weavers’ experiences and interpretations of regional politics. With the rug’s increasing popularity, this instrument of defiance was commercialized. The imagery of war became more conspicuous and detailed, often including English phrases. The term “war rug” was coined by dealers, collectors, and critics, who drove the formation of a prominent souvenir industry.

Breaking with tradition to become a testimony of regional conflict, this artefact came to represent a modern fissure within the cultural continuum. Subsequent wars and invasions all permeated the Afghan rugs, introducing contemporary narratives. Articulating a new formal and symbolic language and discarding age-old conventions, Afghan war rugs epitomize the counterpoint of craftsmanship and modernity. They express the fracture of the traditional object.

Yitzhak’s WarCraft extends this fracture and repositions the artefact within a broader geo-political framework. Born in Israel yet unable to rely on points of reference within a society whose mainstream, Eurocentric discourse marginalizes her culture, the artist looks to the Arab world of her provenance for kindred forms of expression. The current reality of armed and territorial conflict informs her experience and work, which attempts to generate a new kind of document that emulates the codified messages embedded in the original war rugs to communicate across borders about shared concerns.

The installation comprises three large-scale projections of digitally constructed rugs. Reimagining their iconography to reference contemporary war zones, Yitzhak introduces 3D models of weaponry deployed by existing armies and battlegrounds. Her laboriously detailed, flying helicopters and rolling tanks invade from one rug into the others, surrounding the viewer. Translated into a new medium, these digital designs pay tribute to the traditional war rug’s intent while moving from cultural specificity to address other conflicts and articulate a bold indictment of aggression. Through visual effects, war machinery animation, and orchestrated gunfire sounds, Yitzhak’s digital patterns expose a vastly destructive potential. Integrating gaming audio and visual aesthetics, her installation links the battlefield to virtual space, reminding us of the ubiquity of war imagery and of our numbness to its violence.

 

 

 

Co-presented with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, in partnership with Images Festival.


Nevet Yitzhak (b. 1975, Israel; lives and works in Tel Aviv) is a graduate of the Naggar School of Photography, Media and New Music (2003); and the Bezalel Program for Advanced Studies in Art (2007). Her multi-disciplinary work has been shown at the 6th Asian Biennial, Taiwan; Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin; SMBA, Amsterdam; Kuandu Museum, Taipei; the Museum for Islamic Art, Jerusalem; Herzlyia Museum of Contemporary Art; Petach Tikva Museum of Art; Koffler Gallery, Toronto; Circle 1, Berlin; 68 Square Meters, Copenhagen; Jeanine Hofland Gallery, Amsterdam; Edel Assanti Gallery, London; TSR, Miami; the 5th Mediations Biennale, Poznan; Nimac Art Center, Nicosia; SIP Institute for Photography, Tel Aviv; Mana Contemporary, Jersey City; Huashan Culture Park, Taipei and CCA, Tel- Aviv. Yitzhak has won numerous awards and her work is in the collections of the Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem, the Petach Tikva Museum of Art, the Shpilman Institute for Photography, and several others. She is represented by Yossi Milo Gallery, NYC.

Liora Belford is an Israeli-Canadian sound artist, curator and scholar. She is currently a PhD ABD candidate at the department of Art History, University of Toronto, where her research focuses on the curation of sound within the context of modern and contemporary art. She is the recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) Doctoral Award (2016-2019); the Scace fellowship (2013-2018); the Faculty of Arts and Science Top (FAST) Doctoral Fellowship (2015-2018); and DIALOG – Scholarship In Honour of Michael Evamy (2014). She is half of the artistic duo Duprass (together with Ido Govrin) and co-owner of the experimental record label Interval Recordings. Her recent curated exhibitions include Image Coming Soon#1 (2015) at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (for which she received an Honorary Mention from the OAAG), Pardes (2015) at Koffler Gallery, and A Piece for Two Floors and a Corridor (2015) at the Israeli Center for Digital Art. She is currently preparing Listening to Snow for the Art Museum (Toronto), a major exhibition on the sound works of artist Michael Snow.

Image: Nevet Yitzhak, WarCraft, 2014, Installation view at Yossi Milo gallery, New York, 2015 (Image courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, Image Credit: Thomas Seely).

Koffler Gallery Spring 2018 Opening Reception

Join us for the Koffler Gallery’s Spring 2018 Opening Reception: Esther Shalev-Gerz.

Based in Paris for the past three decades, Esther Shalev-Gerz is internationally recognized for her significant contributions to the field of public art and her consistent investigation into the construction of memory, history, nature, democracy and cultural identities. For her first exhibition in Toronto, the Koffler Gallery presents four recent video and photography installations that explore memory and migration.

Esther Shalev-Gerz is a Primary Exhibition, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Learn More

Koffler Gallery Spring 2018 Opening Reception

Thursday, April 5, 2018 | 6–9 PM | FREE

Koffler Gallery

Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street


Join us for the Koffler Gallery’s Spring 2018 Opening Reception: Esther Shalev-Gerz.

Based in Paris for the past three decades, Esther Shalev-Gerz is internationally recognized for her significant contributions to the field of public art and her consistent investigation into the construction of memory, history, nature, democracy and cultural identities. For her first exhibition in Toronto, the Koffler Gallery presents four recent video and photography installations that explore memory and migration.

Esther Shalev-Gerz is a Primary Exhibition, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Learn More

2Fik: His and Other Stories

Assuming the multiple roles of artistic director, photographer and model, 2Fik stages elaborate tableaux in which he single-handedly plays a cast of characters, both male and female, re-enacting familiar compositions derived from famous paintings. His photo-based works toy with reality and fiction, estranging the familiar and destabilizing the viewer’s assumed points of reference.

Learn More

2Fik: His and Other Stories

Assuming the multiple roles of artistic director, photographer and model, 2Fik stages elaborate tableaux in which he single-handedly plays a cast of characters, both male and female, re-enacting familiar compositions derived from famous paintings. His photo-based works toy with reality and fiction, estranging the familiar and destabilizing the viewer’s assumed points of reference.

Learn More

Koffler Gallery Spring 2017 Opening Reception

Thursday, April 6, 2017 | 6 – 9 PM | FREE

Join us for the Koffler Gallery’s Spring 2017 opening reception:
2Fik: His and Other Stories

Assuming the multiple roles of artistic director, photographer and model, 2Fik stages elaborate tableaux in which he single-handedly plays a cast of characters, both male and female, re-enacting familiar compositions derived from famous paintings. His photo-based works toy with reality and fiction, estranging the familiar and destabilizing the viewer’s assumed points of reference.

Learn More

2Fik: His and Other Stories

April 6 to June 4, 2017
Koffler Gallery
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Curator: Mona Filip

SPRING OPENING RECEPTION:
Thursday, April 6, 2017 | 6 – 9 PM | FREE

Read the digital gallery publication with an essay by curator Mona Filip:

Digital Publication


Assuming the multiple roles of artistic director, photographer, and performer, 2Fik stages elaborate tableaux that often re-enact familiar compositions derived from famous paintings. Toying with reality, his constructed images destabilize the viewer’s assumed points of reference, playfully orchestrating scenes that comment thoughtfully on current society.

Born in Paris to a Moroccan Muslim family, 2Fik moved to Montréal in 2003. His encounter with the city’s multicultural environment inspired him to examine issues of identity and its socio-political ramifications. Drawn out of this diverse backdrop, the recurring characters featured in his photographs are all interconnected and stem from the artist’s life experiences and personality: Abdel, who was born in Casablanca, moved to Montréal, and now works as a property manager, turning to religion out of loneliness rather than genuine faith; Fatima, who abandoned her university studies to follow Abdel as his good wife and remains devoted to him even though they married out of family pressure, not love; Kathryn, an overconfident, spoiled young woman from Montréal’s West Island, who is juggling many lovers, including Abdel; and Firas, who fled his native country and asked for refugee status in Canada, motivated by a well-founded fear of persecution based on his sexual orientation.

These are only a few of the lively, fictional individuals embodied by 2Fik in his beguiling photographs. Dismantling stereotypes, they compel viewers to question their own sense of self and reflect on acquired notions of gender, sexuality, belief, universality, and difference. 2Fik first explored these topics by diving into the intimacy and daily life of his characters in the series 2Fik Or Not 2Fik (2005–2009), and later by positioning them into well-known paintings reimagined from a contemporary perspective in his second series, 2Fik’s Museum (2010–2012). In 2013, 2Fik began a new series of site-specific performance-based photographs, restaging history paintings in order to consider national identity narratives.

His and Other Stories offers a survey of these recent bodies of work to examine cultural legacies and identity constructs. The exhibition’s centrepieces are his latest compositions that reconfigure allegorical representations of nationhood. A new work, created for this exhibition, reinterprets Benjamin West’s 1770 painting, The Death of General Wolfe, an emblematic example of Canadian history represented through a colonial lens. The original dramatically depicts the General’s fall during the 1759 Battle of Québec, celebrating him as a hero and a symbol of British dominance. Subverting this patriarchal, whitewashing viewpoint, 2Fik’s vibrant characters of mixed genders, ethnicities, and faiths infuse new meaning into this iconic image. Raising irreverent questions, his critical reinterpretation disrupts nationalistic discourses, opening conversation on today’s pluralistic realities. Shot at Honest Ed’s just before its demolition, the photograph recalls this site’s significance to Toronto and its diverse inhabitants, honouring both present and historical loss, mourning across time and cultural dimensions.

2Fik: His and Other Stories is generously supported by the Hal Jackman Foundation.

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Image at top: 2Fik, Manon au Rat blanc, 2012.

Raymond Boisjoly: Over a Distance Between One and Many

On the occasion of his solo exhibition at the Koffler Gallery, Raymond Boisjoly was interviewed by guest curator Sarah Robayo Sheridan in a public conversation that took place on April 17, 2016. The following is an edited excerpt of this live discussion. The full audio recording can be accessed at www.koffler.digital/koffler-live.


SRS: This is your first solo exhibition in Toronto but this new body of work exemplifies familiar processes. You are often drawn to existing photographic sources, and here Maya Deren’s film Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti serves as a point of departure. Various manipulations of the footage are performed using consumer grade equipment to produce abstracted images. Regarding this approach to the media, you mentioned to me the idea of distracted listening. Can you talk about that as a metaphor for your visual strategy?   

RB: I encountered the idea of distracted listening in Jonathan Sterne’s book MP3: The Meaning of a Format. He talks about the history of radio and the image we have of people gathering around the radio like a fireplace. Sterne claims that distracted listening has always been as common as the more focused form. So I was interested in thinking about an engagement with media that isn’t about finding ourselves in front of it, but instead existing proximate to it. A lot of the material I’ve encountered or used – in this case Maya Deren’s film – has been from YouTube, where videos are always tied to other suggested videos. Rather than being a singular entity, a YouTube video exists in this other realm, proximate to all these other media works, sometimes created intentionally and sometimes incidentally. The visual equivalent of distracted listening happens in my work through technological mediation, the ways in which I subject videos to this process, and the extent to which it holds me back from controlling what is captured of the image. Instead, I have to simply deal with the outcome of that process.


As such, the resulting images are not about becoming what I want of them but rather becoming something of their own.

Raymond Boisjoly: Over a distance between one and many

April 14 to June 5, 2016
Koffler Gallery
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Guest Curator: Sarah Robayo Sheridan

SPRING OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, April 14, 2016 | 6 – 9 PM
ARTIST & CURATOR TALK: Sunday, April 17, 2016 | 2 PM 

Read the digital gallery publication featuring a conversation between artist Raymond Boisjoly and curator Sarah Robayo Sheridan:

Digital Publication

The practice of Vancouver artist Raymond Boisjoly has consistently gravitated to photographic means of emphasizing the act of transmission. Through an ongoing strategy that foregrounds the misuse of common imaging technologies, he generates abstractions of source images that subvert photography’s frequently performed role of commemorating the finite. Boisjoly’s accentuation of the unsteady nature of technology resonates against issues of Indigeneity and cultural transformation, asserting new possibilities for inhabiting the present.

In this new body of work presented at the Koffler Gallery and in another iteration as a billboard project, Boisjoly offers a mediation of Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, a posthumously released film concerning dance and spirit possession in Haitian Vodoun ritual. Playing the film on an iPhone and capturing the stream through a flatbed scanner, he generates a series of interference patterns and crossed signals. These images are printed on vinyl and pinned to the gallery walls, their obscured content demonstrating the futility of this process in understanding the film. Alluding to the artifacts of digital migration, this gesture creates an aesthetic experience rooted in the fleeting nature of images. A ubiquitous marker of media downtime, within Boisjoly’s frame of reference the signal scramble suggests willful resistance—the specific suppression of a source.

Part ethnographic interest, part artistic pursuit, Deren’s attachment to Vodoun cultural practice stood outside the imperatives of both avant-garde filmmaking and anthropological doctrine. In order to represent the rituals of Vodoun practitioners, Deren became one herself. In this transformation, Boisjoly sees a capacity to question how one understands oneself in relation to others and to account for changing circumstances—a possible model for cross-cultural investigation. As an artist of Haida and Quebecois descent, Boisjoly states that his engagement with Indigenous issues goes beyond his own identification as an Indigenous person, being motivated by an urgency to participate in this discussion without claiming a privileged position due to his heritage. He advances a way of seeking understanding through detour rather than immediate access, a process that figures as part of Deren’s complex negotiation of cross-cultural transmission.

Overlaying the images and crossing the white wall expanse, large vinyl-letter phrases articulate a response to the challenges represented within Deren’s project. The scale and colour of these sprawling texts suggest declarations, yet their vernacular is more open-ended. Image and word cohabit a visual terrain but their interaction pressures them against one another. While Boisjoly’s images bear evidence of transit, their migration produces new form and meaning as they are loosened from their source. Reacting to the complications of Deren’s film, his words also emerge out of a process of abstraction into a life not tethered to this moment of reception. The texts float and commingle with the images in noted contrast to the practice of photo-captioning, wrestling against the way language has typically been used to encode photography. Through Boisjoly’s highly nuanced approach, an echo is produced over time and distance, allowing entry into the detailed workings of transmission as an artistic and cultural imperative.


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A Primary Exhibition of the
2016 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival


Raymond Boisjoly is an Indigenous artist of Haida descent based in Vancouver, Canada. His practice concerns the deployment of images, objects and materials in and as Indigenous art. A reflexive approach is used to foreground the discourses which frame and delimit the work produced by Indigenous artists. Boisjoly has been included in exhibitions and projects at SITE Santa Fe, Triangle France (Marseille),  Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Vancouver Art Gallery, The Power Plant (Toronto) and Presentation House Gallery (North Vancouver). Boisjoly is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studio in the Department of Visual Art + Material Practice at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and is represented by Catriona Jeffries Gallery.

Images: Raymond Boisjoly, digital sketches for Over a distance between one and many, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Catriona Jeffries Gallery.

Koffler Gallery presents Erratics: Martha Baillie & Malka Greene with Alan Resnick

Erratics

Martha Baillie | Malka Greene with Alan Resnick

April 16 – June 14, 2015
Koffler Gallery
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Curator: Mona Filip

Click here for the exhibition digital publication featuring an essay by Malka Greene

Bringing together two distinct archives, Erratics explores the tensions between memory and fiction, examining the role of photographs and words in uncovering hidden narratives. Attempting to convey two personal stories, these collections of images, texts and records reveal both the impossibility of fully knowing the past and the effectiveness of literary imagination in grappling with history.

Toronto author Martha Baillie adds further layers to her most recent book, The Search for Heinrich Schlögel, through a multi-media installation. In Baillie’s hypnotic novel, an archivist seeks the truth about Heinrich’s life through letters, documents and photographs providing glimpses into the young man’s journey from a small German town to exploring the Canadian North and finding himself lost in time. Hundreds of postcards, voice recordings and a musical composition created by Nic Gotham give material substance to Baillie’s literary plot that addresses our fraught relationship to the historic past.

In His Father Over Time, Toronto artist and curator Malka Greene mines a store of materials belonging to the late Dr. Morris Resnick – a former World War II reconnaissance photographer who avidly documented his life and times. Emulating the work of an archivist, Greene tries to piece together the threads of this private story. In parallel, Morris’s son – television writer and satirist Alan Resnick – explores his relationship with his father and family through the mnemonic device of the archive and responds with a personal series of texts. Where information may lack or memories fail to fill the gaps in time, fiction takes over.


 

A Featured Exhibition in the
2015 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

 


Contemporary Art Bus Tour
Sunday, May 24, 2015 | 12 – 5 PM | FREE
Tour starts at the Koffler Gallery at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street) and then departs for Blackwood Gallery and AGYU, returning to Shaw Street at 5 PM. Seating is limited.

Please RSVP by Friday, May 22 to:
Sarah Munro | kofflergallery@kofflerarts.org | 647.925.0643 x 221

Erratic Narratives and Archival Diversions
Sunday, June 7, 2015 | 2 PM Artist Talk | 3 PM Round-Table Conversation | FREE
Martha Baillie, Malka Greene, Donna Bernardo-Ceriz, Dr. David Dorenbaum, Alison Pick, Maia Sutnik, Mona Filip (moderator) 

An artist-led walk-through with Martha Baillie and Malka Greene offers personal insights into the narrative and memory-steeped layers of Erratics, discussing the creative intentions that guided the development of the two projects in the exhibition. The afternoon continues with a broader conversation on the ways in which fact and fiction coalesce in the process of remembrance, examining the role of photographs and words in both uncovering and constructing memory. Donna Bernardo-Ceriz (Archivist, Ontario Jewish Archives), Dr. David Dorenbaum (Psychoanalyst and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto), Alison Pick (Author of Between Gods and Far to Go) and Maia Sutnik (Curator of Photography, Art Gallery of Ontario) join moderator Mona Filip (Koffler Gallery Director/Curator) to discuss the interaction between reality and imagination in both artistic works and human consciousness.