May 1 – 31, 2014
Opening: Saturday May 3, 2 – 5 pm
Toronto Image Works
80 Spadina Ave, Suite 207
Toronto, ON M5V 2J4
416 703 1999
Gallery hours: Monday to Friday 9 – 7 pm, Saturday 11 – 3 pm
In Reunions, Toronto-based artist Steven Beckly reclaims and recontextualizes old photographs of same-sex couples, constructing a new and contemporary album through the queering of past identities, relationships, and histories. Drawn from his collection of studio portraits, vernacular snapshots, and wartime photographs spanning from approximately 1880 to 1980, personal and intimate narratives of friendship, family, and love are re-purposed and re-presented to expand contemporary discourse and the politics of representation.
Embedded in Reunions is the subject of the artist’s intermediary roles as collector, archivist, curator, and maker. Operating between these permeable positions, Beckly strategically assembles personally emotional imaginings from his archive and places them in the public space to activate the intersecting lines between private and public. Employing material intervention and image reproduction as methods of appropriation and art-making, Beckly critically engages with the materiality of the photograph and its printed forms. Archival and non-archival media support his prints, perpetuating the contextual tensions and ephemerality of the relationships in Reunions.
Despite being held to the wall in a fashion similar to specimens, these works resist categorization. They open only to the glances of the reverent; ripen only to the touch of translation. [..] There are codes left behind, potent residues, that only lovers can decipher. There are inclinations towards history that come from living in the present. There are fixations from which we cannot remove ourselves. We pen the world in a script of our own, and paint in the lines as we see fit. What Beckly urges is that we rethink our relationship to that, and those, which came before us. We must do so not by rephrasing or parsing down, but rather by allowing traces to sing of their own accord.
—excerpt from “Relational Translations” by Erin Rutherford
Reunions is a Featured Exhibition in the 2014 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.