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Kevan Morin, Walls are Temporary, Home is Forever (2012), DSLR
It’s not every day that you can drop by an artist’s house, share a cup of coffee, and chat about photography. But Exposure 2014: Calgary Banff Canmore Photography Festival allows you to do just that. One of Alberta’s preeminent art happenings, Exposure kicks off on 31 January, launching a month-long series of workshops, talks, films, and exhibitions—all focused on the fascinating, ever-changing medium of photography.
In total, some 50 events will take place across three different municipalities. “What makes Exposure unique is that it stretches from Banff through the Bow Valley Corridor through to Calgary,” says Peter Duthie, the festival’s Chair.
But it’s not only Exposure’s geographical scope that sets it apart: the diversity of its participating venues is also a plus. Festivalgoers can check out photography in such well-known institutions as the Whyte Museum—which is exhibiting The Photographers of Scotia Waterous—as well as newer spaces, such as the Esker Foundation—where you can see Tobias Zielony’s eerie architectural photographs—and Barbara Edwards Contemporary—Calgary, which is featuring works by celebrated artist and architect, Melvin Charney.
However, Exposure also boasts a number of unconventional spaces—from Main Street windows and empty lots to pop-up galleries—where art lovers can discover photography. “We are always trying to find interesting niches where we can expose photography in some way,” explains Duthie. This year that includes mountain photographer Paul Zizka’s “ultimate selfies,” on display at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site; Rock(ed): Music Photos from Calgary’s Alternative Press, at the Pop-up Glenbow at Art Central; and, Home, an exhibition of works by artists of the Sixth Degree Collective that you’ll encounter—quite fittingly—at the home of Mike and Lisa.
Another festival highlight will undoubtedly be Decade, an exhibition that celebrates Exposure’s ten-year anniversary. It showcases work by some of the accomplished photographers who have been involved with the festival since its debut in 2004: Edward Burtynsky, Lynne Cohen, Sarah Anne Johnson, and Geoffrey James, among many others. Curated by Vincent Varga, this milestone exhibition will be at the Christine Klassen Gallery’s new warehouse space.
But if you think that this year’s Exposure is all about looking back, think again. The festival also offers a chance to discover photography’s next generation of creators, as part of the VISTEK Emerging Photographer Showcase and competition. The winner will be chosen by online voting, and announced at the Exposure closing party on 28 February.
As for why there is such strong interest in a photography-only festival—something also witnessed across Canada at Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Toronto’s Contact, and Vancouver’s Capture—Duthie offers some insight. “There is a real democratic sense of photography now,” he says, and an appetite for good, stimulating imagery. “I’ve always felt that serious photography changes the way you look at the world.”
Exposure 2014: Calgary Banff Canmore Photography Festival takes place throughout February 2014. See the festival guide for details.
Robyn Jeffrey is a writer and editor based in Wakefield, Quebec.
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