Image & Imagination
From September 8 to October 10, 2005, 29 exhibitions, involving more than 60 artists from Australia, Canada, France, Haiti, the United Kingdom, and the United States will be presented in museums and galleries throughout Montreal. The program has been developed in close collaboration with a network of partners – affiliate curators and exhibition committees – under the artistic direction of Martha Langford.
Image & Imagination illuminates a neglected area of photographic experience : the life of the photograph in the spectatorial mind. Considering the performative nature of spectatorship, the exhibitions make links between perception and imagination, memory and imagination, the photographic object and imaginative subjecthood
The festival is divided into three complementary parts :
In part one, Sightlines into the Imagination, spectators are encouraged to ask : How do I position myself before an image? Perceptual activity is heightened. The eyes are extended through the other senses to the outer reaches of the body.
Part two focuses more on the contents and contexts of image-making. Mirroring Ourselves, Recasting Otherness draws on contemporary Western society’s psychosocial conditions and ethical dilemmas, implanting the spectator in the midst of photographic settings, rituals, and competing ideologies. Utopias, dystopia, and places in between are evoked by the blurring of real and fantastic landscapes.
Part three shifts our attention from the photographic object to the photographic idea. Pictures as a Way of Shutting our Eyes ranges from spirit photography to non-photographic images that evoke the nature of photography in the spectator’s mind. Included are considerations of the relationships between words and images, photography and other media – relationships that are prompted by memory and reshaped in imaginative ways.
Martha Langford received her PhD (Dean’s Honour List) from McGill University in 1997 and continued her research for two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for the Humanities of Simon Fraser University (1999-2000). Her book on photography and orality, Suspended Conversations : The Afterlife of Memory in Photographic Albums, was published in 2001 by McGill-Queen’s University Press and shortlisted for the Harold Adams Innis Prize in the Social Sciences. Her postdoctoral research on the expression of memory in contemporary Canadian photography has been presented at numerous conferences and symposia. In the fall of 2003, she held the National Gallery Fellowship in Canadian Art to conduct research toward an intellectual biography of Michael Snow. As part of a team research project, Langford is examining the influence of Vietnam-era American immigration on Canadian photographic activity. She is also writing the chapter on Canadian photography for a new history of 20th-century Canadian art to be published by Oxford University Press.
Langford was the founding Director and Chief Curator of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (1985-1994) and the Executive Producer of the Still Photography Division of the National Film Board (1981-1984). She has written and lectured extensively on Canadian photography, European and North American art and architecture, cultural theory, and museology.
As an independent curator, Langford concentrates on thematic exhibitions that disseminate aspects of her research. Since 1997 her exhibitions have explored the photographic grotesque, the expression of memory, and most recently, pathways of spectatorial involvement. As an art historian and critic, she publishes regularly in scholarly journals, magazines, and books.