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Capture Photography Festival celebrates the still image

By Brian Paterson

Parking Lot by Greg Girard, one of the many photographs featured in the Capture Photography Festival. (Submitted Photo)

Parking Lot by Greg Girard, one of the many photographs featured in the Capture Photography Festival. (Submitted Photo)

Capture Photography Festival kicks off its fourth year of festivities this Saturday, bringing its largest-ever celebration of lens-based art and still imagery. Throughout the month of April, more than 100 exhibitions, installations and special events will pop up in communities, galleries and public spaces across the Lower Mainland.

“It was kind of unintentional, but we actually ended up growing the festival by 50 per cent. We’re looking at almost 30 more exhibitions than we had last year –and far more spaces as well,” says Director Meredith Preuss, who cited additional public art projects and a new open call for photographers as key causes behind the boom.

The festival’s diverse lineup includes feature exhibitions at major galleries, transit takeovers at Canadian Line stations, intimate installations at artist-run centers, Vancouver’s first-ever Photo Book Fair, and much more.

With such abundant, eclectic offerings, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Fortunately, Preuss has a few ideas on how to get started.

“Definitely go to the Contemporary Art Gallery and see the feature exhibition: Song of the Open Road,” she says, before elaborating on the event (whose title and theme reference a Walt Whitman poem). “It’s 10 different Canadian and international artists taking over spaces inside and outside the gallery. It showcases a very diverse range of practices and experimental approaches to photography.”


Preuss also offered up selections from her personal must-see list.

“I’m really excited about Greg Girard’s exhibition at Monte Clark Gallery of Vancouver from `70s and `80s,” she says. “It paints a picture of a seedier, pre-Expo city, before the massive influx of real estate.

“The Birthe Piontek exhibition at Access Gallery, which is an artist run centre in Chinatown, is also something I’m looking forward to. Birthe works really intuitively with found photographs and still lifes. She plays with memory in a really interesting way.”

Even without setting foot in a gallery, Vancouverites stand a good chance of encountering the festival due to an extensive program of public art, including an expansion of its annual Billboard Project.

“We’re approaching it as an exhibition, with a unified theme of 'Still Life and its Ambivalent Relationship to Advertising,'” Preuss says. “This year, we feature four artists – two local, two international - rather than a single or collective as we’ve done in the past. And have increased the number of billboards from 10 to 17.”

Also new for 2017 is a partnership with Translink that will see photo installations mounted at seven Canada Line Stations.

“On certain Sundays, we have tours to guide people along the Canada Line project,” Preuss says. “They are totally free and meet at Waterfront Station. It’s a good way to see all of that series at once.”

Art lovers can also enrich their appreciation through a free weekly Speaker Series on Tuesday nights at Gastown’s Inform Interiors, as well as various artist talks, workshops and community events.

Through this ample array of programming, Preuss and her collaborators ultimately aim to have participants reevaluate their understanding of the ubiquitous imagery in their lives.

“In the last few years, there’s been a large scale aestheticization of daily life, through things like Instagram,” she says. “We’re constantly dealing with images through social media, advertising and other mediums, so it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to parse those in a critical way.

“The festival explores this. It’s an opportunity to take a moment and think more deeply about what you’re seeing. By having a festival, we’re trying to encourage understanding of the way [images] factors into our daily lives; we’re trying to create a platform for dialogue around this changing reality.”

Capture Photography Festival run April 1 to 28, 2017. For more information visit www.capturephotofest.com.