Tyler Mitchell: Cultural Turns
CONTACT Gallery, 80 Spadina Ave, Suite 205
Apr 28 – June 30, 2022
Reception Thu, May 5, 6–9pm
Metro Hall, panels along King St W at John St
Apr 28 – May 30, 2022
Billboards at Dupont St and Dovercourt Rd
Apr 29 – May 30, 2022
Curated by Dr. Mark Sealy, PhD, OBE
Presented across three sites in Toronto—in an exhibition at CONTACT Gallery, in an outdoor installation at Metro Hall, and on billboards positioned at the intersection of Dupont and Dovercourt—the work of American photographer Tyler Mitchell brings a bold vision to the city of Toronto. His vibrant images richly portray the beauty, presence, and self-assurance of Black lives, referencing the rich history of Black photography while proposing new futures. The project is curated by British cultural historian Mark Sealy, PhD, OBE, director of Autograph ABP, the Association of Black Photographers in London.
Join Mitchell and Dr. Sealy for a live conversation at Gladstone House, Wednesday, May 4, 6pm.
Cultural Turns features a selection of 18 recent and new works by Mitchell at the CONTACT Gallery including Connective Tissue (2021), Tangled (2021), and Vastness (2021), the latter presented as a 7.5×13 foot photo-mural. Mitchell’s first major outdoor installation will feature 13 large-scale street-level panels on view at nearby Metro Hall. In addition, Mitchell’s work will be presented on billboards for the first time and feature Untitled (Sloane and Leo Embrace) (2019) and Untitled (Eyelash) (2019) at the intersection of Dovercourt Road and Dupont Street in downtown Toronto. Cultural Turns reflects Mitchell’s continuing exploration of situating a Black utopia in the everyday.
According to Dr. Sealy, “Tyler Mitchell’s images arrest the past. They resonate with history and call forth new ways of being. As photographs, they demand political and cultural turns that make it possible for us to see, imagine, and dream of everyday utopias and places where hypervigilance and the epidermal schemas of this world are no more. This exhibition aims to function as a visual gift that encourages its audiences to sweep away all they may have inherited from photography’s grey and guarded old world. Here in the sharing of these images, we can collectively, as human subjects, feel the warmth of a new visual dawn. Within Mitchell’s world, Black bodies resonate with sensual warmth.”
Mitchell made history by photographing Beyoncé for Vogue’s September 2018 cover—the first Black person to do so in the magazine’s 129-year history—an image that now sits in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution. Mitchell also photographed U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for the cover of Vanity Fair in December 2020 and created the controversial portrait of U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris for Vogue’s February 2022 issue. Mitchell has photographed fashion campaigns for Marc Jacobs, Nike, Converse, and Givenchy. His work has recently been exhibited at the Foam Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam; The Gordon Parks Foundation, Pleasantville, NY; and International Center of Photography, New York.
Presented by CONTACT. Supported by Cindy and Shon Barnett, and PATTISON Outdoor Advertising. Part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022
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, Steam Whistle Brewing, BIG Digital, 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 ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto Arts Council, and all of our funders, donors, and programming partners.