Image Art Centre opens first time since pandemic with two never before seen exhibits

15 September 2023 / by Owen Thompson

The Image Centre at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) has opened for the first time since the pandemic with two brand new exhibits.

On the night of Sept. 12, a party was held for the reopening. The Image Art Centre has been closed since 2020 due to the pandemic. Three out of the four exhibits will only be open for the fall semester. Of the exhibits, two are having their first run at the Image Centre: Bonvan and Stories from the Picture Press. Paul Roth, director of the Image Centre, says the theme of the gallery is how different photographers use the medium to tell stories.

Bahar Kamali, a student at TMU, created the photo project Bonvan in 2020. It combines popular Iranian women’s magazines and family photos to allow Kamali “to connect with an inaccessible family history in Iran.” Bonvan will be running until Oct. 13. This is the first time the collection has been on display due to pandemic delays.

“Bonvan is a project of hard work done in 2020, while [Kamali was] pursuing their BFA here at our School of Image Arts. The project became a heart’s desire to connect with a largely inaccessible family history and ramp, combining their family snapshots with pages from a popular Arabian women’s magazine called on the dawn. This series examines the world that photography plays in how we make an understanding, personal, familial, and collective memories,” says Roth.

Stories From the Picture Press is the main exhibit and will be available until April 9. It is a small glimpse of a collection of 20th century press photos from Black Star Publishing and The Canadian Press. Roth says that the photos were donated to TMU in 2005, seven years before the Image Centre existed.

“There are 35 stories about historic events and personalities. This exhibition was actually completely finished and ready to be installed when the pandemic began. For us, it’s an incredible relief and a wonderful moment to be able to present it to you all,” says Roth “There’s a few 100 pictures in the show, but Black Stars is 300,000 pictures in scale. And we did not look at all of it.”

While most of the events revolve around global conflicts that define eras, a large section has been carved out for Canadian photojournalists from the Canadian Press, including photos from the October and Oka Crises. Admission to the Image Centre is free for anyone to attend while it is open.

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