What is queer at the Contact Festival this year

September 5, 2023

Phil Villeneuve


Check out the 2SLGBTQ+ shows artists taking part in the free, city-wide art public art fest!

The CONTACT Photography Festival is a massive, free, city-wide photography festival that takes over billboards, walls, surfaces and galleries all over the GTA. This explains why you might see some super interesting art on a street corner, instead of an add for a food delivery service.

Thanks to our friends at CONTACT we've rounded up the queer shows happening this year inside galleries all over the city, and their closing dates. Check them out below and support queer art! This is a free, fun way to do it.

ArQuives & The Magenta Foundation | Pride – Closing July 2

"Launched in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of The ArQuives—Canada’s only LGBTQ2+ archives with a national scope—Toronto Pride’s first exhibition and publication feature enlarged archival photographs, print media, and ephemera carefully selected from among the archives’ holdings and a public call for submissions. Kicking off Pride Season, this remarkable multifaceted project focuses on Toronto Pride from 1970 to the present day."

FASTWÜRMS, Red Rum Tut (IBGYBG), 2014. Courtesy of the artists and Paul Petro Contemporary, Toronto

Paul Petro | FASTWURMS – Closing June 24

"FASTWÜRMS (formed 1979) is the cultural project, trademark, and joint authorship of Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse. FASTWÜRMS artwork is characterized by a poly-disciplinary DIY sensibility, Queer and Witch positivity identity politics, and a keen allegiance towards feminist, working class, and artist collaborations. Guided by the ethos of ecology and the praxis of Witchcraft, FASTWÜRMS has extensive experience making public art, installation art, social making and performance art, landscape and earth art, vernacular and artist architecture, ceramics, ecology, geology, and enminded living systems. FASTWÜRMS is a recipient of the 2023 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts."

Jake Kimble, Grow Up #1, 2022. Courtesy of the artist

460 King | Jake Kimble – Closing June 30th

"Jake Kimble is a multidisciplinary Chipewyan (Dënesųłıné) artist from Treaty 8 territory in the Northwest Territories whose practice mainly revolves around acts of self-care, self-repair, and gender-based ideological refusal. Kimble belongs to the Deninu K’ue First Nation and currently works on the stolen territory of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Most recently he attained a BFA in Photography from Emily Carr University of Art + Design while also holding a Degree in Acting from Vancouver Film School. Using a funny bone as a tool, Kimble excavates themes of existentialism, narcissism, and the strange, offering an invitation to the audience to examine the absurdities that exist within the everyday so that they may exhale, unclench, and even chuckle in the spaces where laughter is often lost."

The Jake Kimble artwork at 460 King Street West is a massive outdoor banner on the north façade building.

Wynne Neilly, Tabletop Portrait (Jules), 2021. Courtesy of the artist

NGPA | Wynne Neilly – Closing June 17

"Wynne Neilly is a queer, trans identified, visual artist and award-winning photographer who explores and balances a fine art and commercial practice. Known for his portraits that investigate into and engage with the queer and trans identity, he received critical attention for his TIME Magazine’s monumental cover of Elliot Page in 2021. Currently based in Prince Edward County, ON, his work has been included in exhibitions at venues internationally, including but not limited to: The Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives; Gallery TPW; Joseph Gross Gallery (Tucson); The Art Gallery of Burlington; International Center of Photography (New York); The Annenberg Space for Photography (Los Angeles); and Sørlandet Art Museum (Norway)."

Cassils with Bonny Taylor, Human Measure (Developed), (detail), 2021. Courtesy of the artist. Cyanotype advisor: Bonny Taylor

United | Cassils (trans artist, in group show) – June 17

"Cassils is a transgender artist who makes their own body the material and protagonist of their performances. Cassils’s art contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle and survival. For Cassils, performance is a form of social sculpture: Drawing from the idea that bodies are formed in relation to forces of power and social expectations, Cassils’s work investigates historical contexts to examine the present moment. Cassils has had recent solo exhibitions at HOME Manchester, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NYC; Institute for Contemporary Art, AU; Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts; Bemis Center, Omaha; MU Eindhoven, Netherlands. They are the recipient of the National Creation Fund, a 2020 Fleck Residency from the Banff Center for the Arts, a Princeton Lewis Artist Fellowship finalist, a Villa Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, a United States Artist Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Creative Capital Award. Cassils is an Associate Professor in Sculpture and Integrated Practices at PRATT Institute."

AGO | Wolfgang Tillmans – Closing October 1 (free to the public every Wednesday from 5-9pm)

"Wolfgang Tillmans’s first museum survey in Canada foregrounds how the German artist has married photographic image-making with social critique by pushing the conventions of the medium, developing new worlds of abstract photography, and epitomizing a new kind of subjectivity. In 400+ works, the exhibition presents the richness of Tillmans’s artistic practice, grounded in his conviction that an artist’s role is to be “an amplifier.”"

Charlie Engman, Owl Gate, 2023 (AI generated image). Courtesy of the artist

U of T | Charlie Engman - in group show -Tumbling in Harness - Closing July 22

"Charlie Engman, originally as a movement artist, arrived at picture-taking as a form of visual notation. His images capture the sculptural potential of an action, as a detail of the setting is caught in the moment of becoming something other than itself. Engman’s images are at essence conceptual and visual solutions to the formal problem of picture making, pushing the scope and visual possibility of what he has to work with—models, clothing, props and sets, a certain space, light, the potential of post-production and graphic design. Engman playfully and cleverly confronts the artifice of his images, allowing the viewer to be privy to the boundaries and construction of his working environments."

Abdi Osman, Portals Collage, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

TPW | Abdi Osman (in group show) – Closing June 24

"Abdi Osman is a Somali-Canadian multidisciplinary artist and an assistant professor of practice at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Osman’s work focuses on questions of Black masculinity as it intersects with Muslim and queer identities."