Main Space
Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Figure & Ground: Dynamic Landscape
Apr 29, 2011 - Jun 05, 2011

Through the work of four international artists, Dynamic Landscape looks at the confluence of physical and psychological factors that inform our perception of the world we inhabit. From sun-scorched Africa to Canada’s frozen north, the illuminated streets of India to Russia’s modest interiors– these narratives reveal a continuous interplay between humanity and nature.

Viviane Sassen’s photographs portray a vision of Africa that is intimate and personal, but also distant and universal. She captures a sense of place through bold graphic imagery and highly stylized compositions. Dramatic figures, ominous shadows, and saturated colours take on symbolic meaning, while maintaining an aura of mystery. These archetypal images express confidence and doubt, perseverance and mortality, compassion and desire.

Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s practice is informed by an ongoing concern for the environment and the damaging effects of human interference. Her images are the result of impermanent, site-specific installations created within vast landscapes. Framed by an icy blue land and sky in a remote village in Nunuvat, these otherworldly environments are simple yet powerful, humorous yet serious, magical yet real.

Olga Chagaoutdinova’s photographs and videos examine how we construct personal and cultural identities. Interested in globalization after the fall of communism, she investigates how domesticity can be positioned as a microcosm of society. Themes of pain and suffering are evident throughout the artist’s practice, alluding to her heritage and traditions within Russian art and literature.

Dayanita Singh’s cinematic photographs transform the nocturnal city into a surreal world, where the familiar is concealed by the unknown. Her moonlit landscapes are lush with artificial colours, and exist somewhere between consciousness and reverie. Through a sharp contrast between shadows and streaming pools of light, mundane settings are instilled with a threatening air. Resisting easy explanations, Singh’s evocative photographs—like a dream—are open to interpretation.
Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein.

Organized with the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

Download full curatorial essay for Figure & Ground: Dynamic Landscape