Keeping CONTACT with photography Look

An interview I conducted during quarantine with the executive director of the CONTACT Photography Festival — which is the world's biggest public installation photography festival.

Keeping CONTACT with photography

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our lives — understatement of the century. Social distancing and prolonged confinement periods have affected our work lives, our relationships with our families, friends, neighbours and community members. In addition to adjusting our daily routines to accommodate working remotely and virtually connecting with coworkers, how we consume various forms of leisure, arts and entertainment — when we're not trying to get some work done — has also been transformed. Famous DJs and artists amassed gigantic followings on their Instagram live feeds, attracting an impressive number of celebrities to their virtual parties, dance studios and group fitness gyms pivoted to offering classes online, and digital content creators of all sizes have found new ways of connecting with a captive audience on lockdown. In a recent article, CBC Arts journalist, on-air host and Governor General Award-winning writer, Amanda Parris, highlights how artists and arts organizations are helping us get through this incredibly difficult time. Parris challenges us never to question the value of artists again. "[I hope] creatives who have kept us entertained and sane during this time are no longer taken for granted. I want a world where artists are respected and valued for their work and their worth," she said. It's also evident that creatives and arts organizations have been hit hard by the pandemic. With theatres, venues and bars, galleries and studios closed, they are facing dire circumstances as their already precarious revenue streams have suddenly ground to a halt. Moreover, the cancellation of events, concerts and festivals affects not only the artists themselves but also the rest of us who enjoy and support these cultural experiences.

The exhibition will not be socialized

So what happens to the world's biggest festival of public photography installations in the age of social distancing? That's the question I asked myself shortly after I interviewed the executive director of the annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Darcy Killeen, as the coronavirus pandemic suddenly upended our lives. Read More Or listen to the Podcast