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A blonde woman laying in the sand, arms outstretched, wearing a black swimsuit.
Fig. 1

Photograph unknown, Untitled [Mamie Van Doren], date and location unknown, gelatin silver print. BS.2005.216415/129-757. The Black Star Collection, Ryerson Image Centre

Burn with Desire at the Ryerson Image Centre

Nov. 25, 2014

The Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) plays with ideas of glamour and female representation in two exhibitions on view January – April 2015. Burn with Desire: Photography and Glamour offers a sweeping yet considered view of photography’s role in defining glamour since the 1920s. Approaching female identity from a different angle, Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women seeks to challenge stereotypes, while claiming an alternative presence for women in the public sphere. Both exhibitions open with a reception on January 21, 2015 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

From Edward Steichen’s iconic portrait of silent film star Gloria Swanson (1924) to Annie Leibovitz’s influential gatefold covers for Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood issue (1995-2014), Burn with Desire: Photography and Glamour explores how photography has shaped notions of glamour, sensuality and femininity in Western culture. Drawing on prints from the RIC’s Black Star Collection of photoreportage, as well as other holdings internationally, this multimedia exhibition provides a historical survey encompassing Hollywood studio portraits, red-carpet premieres, and “behind-the-scenes” snapshots of film sets and stars at rest. Alongside these photographs, a series of artistic projects offer a critical address of traditional ideals of glamour, including works by Richard Avedon, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol.

To complement this major exhibition, Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women features photographic and video portraits by artists who address issues of female representation. Works by Marie Le Mounier, Katherine Lannin, Rebecca Belmore, Ange Leccia, Gunilla Josephson, Jo Spence and Leila Zahiri offer a contemporary counterpoint to the traditional standards that have shaped female identity. These projects range from ironic appropriation of attractive femmes fatales conjured by the film industry, to empowered bare-breasted figures proudly confronting the viewer. The works on view offer an alternative to imagery that often reduces women’s individuality to a recurrent iconography of vulnerability and seduction.

Burn with Desire and Anti-Glamour are curated by Gae?lle Morel, Exhibitions Curator at the RIC. Both exhibitions will be on view at the Ryerson Image Centre from January 21 to April 5, 2015.

The Ryerson Image Centre gratefully acknowledges the support of our media sponsors for Burn with Desire: Toronto Life, FASHION Magazine and Toronto Star.