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Festival X 2012: Previewing Ottawa’s biggest photography extravaganza

By Diane Bond on September 18, 2012

This Thursday marks the opening of Festival X,  a 10-day photography festival showcasing the work of contemporary image-makers at 34 different venues around the city. Now in its fifth year, Festival X looks to bolster an awareness of regional, Canadian and international photographers through exhibitions, interventions, public lectures and artist talks, roundtable discussions and the Lookfest Porfolio Review  – an opportunity for photo-based artists to meet with critics, curators, scholars, editors, designers and others engaged with the photographic community. (If you’re interested in participating in Lookfest this year, scroll to the bottom of this post for more information).

Participating artists this year include the Enriched Bread Artists, Geneviève ThauvetteNathalie Daoust and Jean-Yves Vigneau, Hélène LeFebvre and Julie Fiala, Caleb AbbottAndrzej MaciejewskiLeslie Hossack, and Rosalie Favell.

Volunteer organizers Khalia Scott and Francesco Corsaro (President and Vice President of Festival X, respectively) are excited that Nuit Blanche, Ottawa’s first all-night art party, will be taking place during the festival this Saturday. Hosted in the Kildare Room at the Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts from 7pm-midnight, Festival X will present Stills in Motion – a series of projections by seven different artists working within a range of media.

There will be plenty more occurring throughout the ten days of the festival. Not least, scholar Randy Innes (who is also one of the directors at the School for the Photographic Arts: Ottawa) will be drafting a written work-in-progress that will draw together the main theme of Festival X 2012 – Otherwise than Seeing: Photograph, Image, Representation.

Randy Innes. Photo by Andrew Carson, from the Festival X website.

“There’s a certain complicated line of thought that I’m following that I want to try to present in the essay,” says Innes. “Very simply, I want to bring to the surface the idea that photographs aren’t just snapshots. In that way, it’s a very simple idea. Photography shows us things – very clearly, in some instances – whatever appears before the camera is in the picture. But it’s framed, it’s processed certain ways. By having a chance to see that object, or that person, or whatever shows up in the photograph the way the camera saw it, viewers are also seeing an aspect of the world differently than they had before. So it’s challenging the idea that the word ‘seeing’ equals ‘clarity’ or ‘vision.’”

Innes will also be moderating a roundtable that will discuss these same thematic issues with Penny Cousineau-Levine, Robert Evans, Lorraine Gilbert, and Jonathan Hobin, on Saturday, September 29.

“One thing that is happening with photography – and it might be because of digital formats now – but what we’ve noticed at SPAO is there is a lot more process-driven photography,” Innes explains. “Like the work of Jon Hobin or Cara Tierney, there’s the constructed image – how do you compose with photographs, rather than just taking snapshots. So between the composed photograph and the photograph as an object, I think there’s going to be a lot of interesting work to see throughout the festival.”

Join Festival X at the opening Gala event  on Thursday, September 20 from 7-10pm in the Kildare Room at the Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts (310 St. Patrick Street). To see the list of events and exhibitions, check out the Festival X website. We’ll be posting more coverage over the next coming weeks!

For more information or to sign up to participate in the Lookfest Portfolio Review, please email Don Mills at donpmills@kpmg.ca