Wed, July 17, 6 pm — Special tour of Scotiabank Photography Award: Moyra Davey with Gaëlle Morel and Brian Sholis. 

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A screen sits inside a structure made of boxes and wood planks
Fig. 1

Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection installation view (work by artist Vid Ingelevics pictured), 2012 © Clifton Li, Ryerson Image Centre

The Ryerson Image Centre announces its grand opening exhibition Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection

Mar. 3, 2012

The Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto's newest cultural destination, will open its doors on Saturday, September 29, 2012 with a spectacular exhibition that features never before-seen works by eight of Canada's leading artists.

Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection focuses on the Black Star Collection of approximately 292,000 historic black and white photojournalistic prints, as seen through the eyes of internationally-renowned Canadian contemporary artists Stephen Andrews, Christina Battle, Marie-Helene Cousineau, Stan Douglas, Vera Frenkel, Vid Ingelevics, David Rokeby and Michael Snow.

"This exhibition, featuring multiple artists who provide a brave new perspective on the classic photography of the Black Star Collection, is a tremendous way to open the Ryerson Image Centre - a great new cultural destination in the city of Toronto," said Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University. "As one of the top facilities in the world for the study, research and exhibition of photography and related media, the Ryerson Image Centre will benefit our students, faculty, and researchers - both here and around the world, and it will be a great asset to our city, province and country.”

"We are honoured to be launching our new Centre with a multi-disciplinary exhibition featuring eight of Canada's leading artists, who have created revelatory new work based on their engagement with Ryerson University's prestigious Black Star Collection," said Doina Popescu, Director of the Ryerson Image Centre. "It has been a deep pleasure to curate Archival Dialogues together with independent curator, thinker and writer in the field of contemporary art, Peggy Gale."

The photojournalistic press prints of the Black Star Collection at Ryerson University portray the personalities, events and conflicts of the 20th century. The Collection is home to iconic images that were placed in major news publications such as Life magazine, Look, The Saturday Evening Post and many others. The eight artists featured in Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection are breathing new life into these images from contemporary points of view that have grown out of their respective art practices.

In Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection:

Stephen Andrews breathes movement back into selected stills, exploring the cracks in the realism of photojournalism and cine?ma ve?rite?, as well as reportage and fiction.

Christina Battle's multi-media project examines photographs of disastrous events across several decades to take us into the uncanny realm of science fiction.

Marie-Helene Cousineau gives memory and history a new life in an installation inspired by portraits and snapshots found in the Black Star Collection, which were taken in Baker Lake during the 1960s.

Stan Douglas' photographs in Archival Dialogues were chosen for their sophisticated relationship to an aesthetic that would ultimately be eclipsed in photojournalism, and for their connection to the Black Star Collection in particular.

Vera Frenkel's video-photo-text installation, The Blue Train, centers on a key phase of the journey of escape taken by the artist's mother at the outbreak of World War II via a combination of stills, drawings and video that trace the journey through the minds of passengers with whom the experience was shared.

Vid Ingelevics' Conditional Report examines the contradictions inherent in the archiving process that the Black Star Collection at Ryerson University is subject to.

David Rokeby's installation, presented on the Salah Bachir New Media Wall in the gallery's entrance colonnade, separates the mechanism of seeing from the habit of seeing, as he reconstructs the way the fovea (the small central part of the eye which can see detail) passes over the image like a searchlight cutting through a murk of blurry forms.

Michael Snow's new installation TAUT utilizes some of the extraordinary Black Star Collection crowd photographs in a video projected on classroom chairs, tables, lectern and green board covered in white paper, creating a three-dimensional white screen for the two-dimensional images of three-dimensional events and places.

Reflecting on their respective processes of working with the Black Star Collection, each of the contributors to Archival Dialogues has also produced six artist pages for the catalogue.

Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection is made possible through the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Ryerson University, the Goethe-Institut Toronto, The Howard and Carole Tanenbaum Family Charitable Foundation, and The Paul J. Ruhnke Memorial Fund.