May 3, 2011

Suzy Lake: Political Poetics

University of Toronto

Organized by the University of Toronto Art Centre and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival this major themed survey show, curated by Matthew Brower and Carla Garnet, comprises works from projects throughout Suzy Lake’s career, while highlighting the ongoing nature of her practice by presenting her recent work.


Lake’s rigorous and challenging approach to art-making has earned her recognition as a seminal figure in Canadian visual art.  Over the past 40 years, she has captured the experience and expression of female identity within contemporary political, social, and media milieus. Widely regarded as a pioneer in body-based work, her photographic and performative explorations offer a powerful and nuanced investigation of embodiment, femininity, and beauty. Her work opens up the fraught figure-ground relationship between image and identity, a central concern in late 20th and early 21st century art practice. Political Poetics showcases Lake’s most recent time-based works, framing them within the broader context of a career long exploration of embodied subjectivity. Examining an underappreciated aspect of Lake’s practice, this exhibition contends that the poetics of Lake’s work—their formal aesthetic—provides a space for understanding their political intent.


Suzy Lake: Political Poeticsis one of the primary exhibitions in the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. CONTACT 2011: Figure and Ground investigates the way photography mediates how we perceive, recognize and experience the rapidly changing world around us. This year’s festival explores the tensions between humanity and nature, from the figure in the landscape to the effect of human intervention on the ground.


The exhibition is accompanied by a full colour catalogue with essays written by the exhibition curators, Brower and Garnet, and writer and cultural theorist Dot Tuer.


UTAC and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival are circulating the exhibition to four venues: the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre at the University of Guelph, the McIntosh Gallery at the University of Western Ontario, Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.


The exhibition is supported in part through contributions from the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts; Partners in Art; the Ontario Arts Council; Celebrate Ontario; the Toronto Arts Council; the Canada Council and the Delta Gamma Women’s Fraternity, with additional support from Jane Bunting, Jean Griffiths, Sasha Krstic, Margaret McKelvey and Patti Stoll.


Public Programming:


Thursday 19 May 2011 7–9 pm
Art with Insight Conversation: Self Image Performance
Generously supported by Peter Allen


Artists, Suzy Lake, Johanna Householder, and Chris Ironside discuss the aesthetic, practical and political implications of basing an artistic practice in the representation of the artist’s own body. Moderated by Carla Garnet and Matthew Brower.


Wednesday 22 June 2011 7–9 pm
Art with Insight Conversation: Performing Poetics and Exhibition Catalogue, Launch
Generously supported by Peter Allen


Exhibition curators Matthew Brower and Carla Garnet join Sophie Hackett, Assistant Curator, Photography, the AGO and Dot Tuer, cultural theorist, and contributor to the exhibition catalogue, to map out the significance of Suzy Lake’s work.


Location for all events:


UTAC art lounge, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7
[email protected]


Exhibition Hours: Tues to Fri 12–5 Sat 12–4 FREE Admission


For information on Suzy Lake: Political Poetics please contact: Maureen Smith (416) 946-7089 or [email protected]


For information on the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival please contact: Bunmi Adeoye Account Manager, NKPR, Public Relations for the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 416.365.3630 x226, [email protected] or


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