Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival appoints new Artistic Director

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Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival appoints new Artistic Director
Having been a part of the Festival team for over five years earlier in her career, Canlas Rigg returns having led numerous innovative and ambitious curatorial and publishing projects.



TORONTO.- Darcy Killeen, Chief Executive Officer, and Tara Smith, Executive Director, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, announced the appointment of Heather Canlas Rigg as the Festival’s new Artistic Director. Canlas Rigg will join CONTACT on March 1, 2023. The 27th edition of the annual citywide event is on view April 28 through May 31, 2023, with some installations remaining open into the summer. Canadian and international artists will present lens-based works in exhibitions, site-specific installations, and commissioned projects at museums, galleries, and public spaces across Toronto.

“Heather brings to the position a critical lens, a driven enthusiasm, a wealth of knowledge and experience, and a familiarity with the communities that CONTACT strives to serve. A curator, educator, and writer based in Toronto, she will be a key player in the continued growth of the Festival, both locally and internationally. On behalf of CONTACT’s Board, staff, and community, we are delighted to welcome Heather back to CONTACT in this new role,” said Killeen.

Having been a part of the Festival team for over five years earlier in her career, Canlas Rigg returns having led numerous innovative and ambitious curatorial and publishing projects exploring concepts of de-colonialism, community, speculative futures, reimagining art institutions, and more. Canlas Rigg’s vision and engagement with contemporary lens-based practices as an independent curator and writer and having been the curator of two artist-run centres, make her an ideal candidate to help guide CONTACT’s artistic direction toward a robust future.

"I am excited to continue CONTACT’s legacy of city-wide lens-based programming. I am an artist led, collaborative curator who seeks to support the multifaceted ways that artists approach and employ the materiality of camera technology, while decentring colonial narratives. I look forward to working with the Festival team to pursue new initiatives, including growing the CONTACT Photobook Lab, and leading the Festival into the future together, expanding the scope of what a photography festival can be,” said Canlas Rigg.

Prior to rejoining CONTACT, Canlas Rigg was the inaugural Curatorial Resident at the artist-run centre Gallery TPW. Recent projects include Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser’s Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?; Jesse Chun’s And verse (혼잣말의 언어 그리고 cosmos), and a year-long program series on sound entitled Audibility. Previously, Canlas Rigg was the Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto. Canlas Rigg currently co-teaches Contemporary Art Photography in Continuing Education at Toronto Metropolitan University.

In 2018, Canlas Rigg and Magdalyn Asimakis formed ma ma, a Toronto based curatorial collective that explores matrilineal knowledge, feminism, and intersectionality. In 2021, they curated a three-part program for Mercer Union, a centre for contemporary art, entitled Fast Forward: Speculative Institutions that used speculation as a tool to imagine a future with ethical museum and art institution structures. This spring, ma ma will release a collaborative cookbook about food and diaspora–informed by their Filipinx and Greek heritages, respectively–produced in collaboration with Art Metropole and The Table.










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