Spectra 2023

Spectra has been an active part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival since its inception, highlighting the work of members of Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography. By focusing on the collective, rather than any given theme, the exhibit allows each artist to share projects they are passionate about. This year’s exhibition features 23 artists at Artscape Youngplace. 

Emma Juliette Sherland’s subtly manipulated photo series about the pulling apart and coming together of internal and external worlds is called Collision. To me, collision became a central idea weaving its way through the diverse images in this show. In unexpected, thought-provoking ways, these artists explore the different ways we tie all the little moments of life together—how we tie ourselves to a place, to an object, to another. Each of these explorations has its own distinctive perspective, but there is a shared recognition of continued motion. The photographs depict the constant collision of individuals, ideas and perspectives—some harsh, some gentle, some fiercely intimate. Each of these moments of contact creates spaces for conversation. Sherland’s works highlight the fear of, and the longing for, that separated, isolated place. Lilianne Schneider finds peace and beauty in a similar setting. The two artists are presented together, but not in direct relationship to one another, creating a delicate balance, as well, as some contradictory elements.

Emma Juliette Sherland, Collision (Left), 2020, laminated matte print on Dibond, 24″ x 48”

Lilianne Schneider: Time Capsule 4, 2022, digital print w/ museum glass, 20″ x 13.25” framed

Throughout this exhibition, we see the artists entering into new and familiar worlds while trying to situate themselves within a larger context. Zoi de la Peña revisits her grandfather’s home in Alexandria, presenting images that capture both distance and intimacy. David Scriven visits places where his family once lived, searching for some indication of their presence.

David Scriven, This is where he lived, 2022, Inkjet on archival matte paper, 24″ x 24″

Both Ana Šašić and Atia Pokorny try to capture not just memories but the feeling of memory itself through unexpected scenes of life. However static the image is, it seems to move like a carousel.

Atia Pokorny, A look in between, 2023, archival print, 14″ x 18”

Installation view with Ana Šašić’s work. Photo: Eric Garsonnin

This show also presents works about dreams and decay. Danielle Goshay’s images of waterlogged photographs capture both our desire to preserve time and the futility of these endeavors in a strikingly beautiful way.

Danielle Goshay, Page of Wands, 2023 laser print, 11″ x 17”

Many of the photographs like Katherine KY Cheng’s musings on dreams, Changhao Li’s meditation on the transient nature of life, Huw Morgan’s depictions of hands holding objects with personal meaning—are revelations of things we cling to and offer up to the viewer through the lenses of portraiture. Together these artists create collisions like waves, an unending motion, that is almost impossible to capture.

Huw Morgan, Lacquer box, 1700s, Fedoskino, 2023

Kye Marshall’s images are intimate depictions of irises and other flowers. As Marshall tells us, Iris, the messenger of the gods, leaves flowers in her wake. She also symbolically represents a link—between the real and the imaginary, the living and the dead. Laura Honsberger’s photographs of people screaming into each other’s mouths offer a delicate contrast of intimacy and defiance.

Kye Marshall, Iris Intimates (ii), 2021, archival pigment print, 24″ x 17″

In a description of their photographic method, Atia Pokorny draws our attention to the Czech word “momentka” meaning “snapshot”—a brief transient instant in time. Although a snapshot is a still an image, the English word “moment” comes from the Latin momentum—movement. Both parts that make up the word ‘snapshot’ also contain motion. Maybe it feels contradictory to look at something still—a moment forever paused—and see motion. For me, these still images will remain forever in motion.

Lily Scriven

Images are courtesy of the artists and Spectra

*Exhibition information: Spectra 2023 / Group Exhibition, May 6 – 28, 2023, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St, Toronto. Gallery hours: Mon–Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat–Sun 9am – 6pm. The exhibition is part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

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