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Art Gallery of Ontario celebrates WorldPride 2014 Toronto with exhibition of queer photography
American photographer, Woman in pink shirt, tie and trousers, around 1920. Gelatin silver print with applied colour © Art Gallery of Ontario.

TORONTO.- WorldPride 2014 takes Toronto by storm this June, and the Art Gallery of Ontario celebrates with a special exhibition. Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography examines the play of gender in photography and video, and opened on June 18, 2014.

On view until September, Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography features a group of artists whose work documents, questions and extends the practice of drag, often now seen as performance art. Curated by Sophie Hackett, associate curator of photography, the exhibition explores the artists’ sometimes playful views on fashioning identity through images, building on a range of sources from Claude Cahun to LIFE magazine to television soap operas. Featuring historical and contemporary works by Canadian and international artists, Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography draws from the AGO photography collection and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, as well as select loans from private collections.

Adding to this significant moment in the city, the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) will simultaneously open a related exhibition, also curated by Hackett. What It Means To Be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility will focus on how photographs—press photographs and snapshots, in particular—have brought to light a sense of collective characteristics, experiences and ambitions for queer communities and reveal how photographs captured, fed and continues to feed gay rights movements. Drawing on the RIC’s large Black Star Collection, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and other public and private collections, the exhibition will feature a range of photographs from basement parties to street demonstrations, police mug shots to intimate portraits of couples—the queer visual bedrock that today’s image makers either build upon on or resist. It runs to Aug. 24, 2014.

“The issue of visibility has long been tied to the idea of greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community,” said Hackett. “These two exhibitions provide an opportunity to reflect on and explore the role of photography in creating visibility for queer people through the work of both international and local artists. This is an incredible chance to see some of rich photographic material that deals with the topic from a number of sources, including the AGO’s photography collection and the RIC’s incredible Black Star Collection.”

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