CONTACT Panel Discussion – The Right to Dream: Art in the Public Realm

Seif Kousmate, Untitled [A landscape of the Akka oasis], February 2021, Akka, Morocco. © Seif Kousmate. Courtesy of the artist.

The Right to Dream: Art in the Public Realm
Monday, May 1, 2023, 7 – 8:30pm
Ace Hotel, 51 Camden St
Register Here

Join guest curators Sara Knelman, Gaëlle Morel, and Mark Sealy for a discussion about public art and the photographic projects they have each curated in this year’s CONTACT Festival, respectively: Farah Al Qasimi: Night Swimming presented along the platform of Davisville Subway Station; Seif Kousmate: Waha (Oasis) presented on billboards at King Street West and Strachan Avenue; and Writing Without Words: The Autoportraits of Hélène Amouzou, presented at Metro Hall along King Street West at John Street.


Farah Al Qasimi, Star Machine, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.

Farah Al Qasimi: Night Swimming
May 1 – June 2, 2023
Davisville Subway Station, along platforms
Curated by Sara Knelman

Working between the United Arab Emirates and New York, Lebanese-American artist Farah Al Qasimi finds her vibrant, collage-like compositions in the international cityscapes around her, or creates them in-studio. Presented along the subway platform at Davisville Station, the images in Night Swimming show fragments of shop displays, luxury interiors, and street life, weaving together the complexities of cultural identity, gender roles, and consumer culture.

Presented by CONTACT. Supported by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising

Seif Kousmate: Waha (Oasis)
May 1 – June 2, 2023
King and Strachan Billboards
Curated by Gaëlle Morel

Waha (“oasis” in Arabic) is Moroccan photographer Seif Kousmate’s three-year–long research-based project that explores the consequences of climate change and rural exodus on Morocco’s oasis ecosystem. Beginning in 2020, Kousmate traveled across the country, meeting with local communities to generate dialogue around the oases’ future and environmental issues, shifting attention onto its consequences for the ecosystem’s southern regions, routinely overlooked by Western media and politics.

Presented by CONTACT. Supported by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising

Hélène Amouzou, Autoportrait, Molenbeek, 2009. Courtesy of the artist.

Writing Without Words: The Autoportraits of Hélène Amouzou
May 1 – 31, 2023
Metro Hall, structure along King St W at John St
Curated by Mark Sealy

Togolese-Belgian photographer Hélène Amouzou creates distinctive imagery through long exposures, generating photographic apparitions that speak to the issues of displacement and exile. Presented in an outdoor installation at Metro Hall, the 13 haunting, larger-than-life images both reveal the deepest parts of the artist herself, and evoke the spectre of people forced into movement across the globe.

Presented by CONTACT in partnership with Autograph London and University Arts London, and the City of Toronto


Sara Knelman is a writer, curator, and Executive Director & Publisher of C Magazine.

Dr. Gaëlle Morel has been the Exhibitions Curator at The Image Centre since 2010. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including Berenice Abbott: Photographies (2012), Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases (2014), Burn with Desire. Photography and Glamour (2015), Scotiabank Photography Award: Suzy Lake (2017) and Meryl McMaster: As Immense as the Sky (2019). Her most recent project includes the exhibition and accompanying catalogue on American photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s project Ward 81 (2023). In 2009, Morel was the guest curator of the photography biennial Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, and she is currently an instructor in the Film + Photography Preservation and Collections Management graduate program at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Dr. Mark Sealy OBE, Executive Director of Autograph (1991– ) and Professor, Photography, Rights and Representation at University Arts London – London College of Communication, is interested in the relationship between art, photography and social change, identity politics, race, and human rights. Sealy gained his PhD from Durham University, England. He has written for many of the world’s leading photographic journals, produced numerous artist publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide. In addition, he is an advisor (management + committees) to several leading cultural institutions, including Tate, Paul Mellon Centre for the Studies in British Art, Art Fund, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, World Press Photo, and the International Centre of Photography in New York, USA. Lawrence and Wishart have published Sealy’s critical writings on photography, Photography: Race, Rights and Representation, published 2022 and Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time, published 2019.


Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
80 Spadina Ave, Suite 205
Toronto, Ontario M5V 2J4
416 539 9595
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CONTACT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and fostering the art and profession of photography with an annual Festival in May and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery. CONTACT embraces an inclusive and accessible approach to the medium, and cultivates collaborations with and among artists, curators, institutions, and organizations.

CONTACT is generously supported by Scotia Wealth Management, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, Toronto Image Works, The Gilder, Transcontinental PLM, 3M Canada, Waddington’s Auctioneers and Appraisers, Four By Eight Signs, Beyond Digital Imaging, Saman Design, The Globe and Mail, CBC Toronto, British Journal of Photography, Hyperallergic, Aperture, Contemporary And, Momus, Art Papers, and NOW Magazine.

CONTACT gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and all of our funders, donors, and programming partners.