Expose yourself to photography

As anyone with siblings can attest, rivalries are usually the hardest on the youngest of the litter.

This probably should be the case for Exposure, the Calgary-Banff photography festival happening throughout the month of February.

Standing in the shadow of the likes of Contact, Toronto’s month-long counterpart in May and the biggest photography festival in North America, the young Albertan festival has a lot to live up to.

“[Exposure] definitely has the same quality of photography as some of the larger eastern festivals,” says Janet Naclia, curator and arts administrator at Newzones Gallery.

Indeed, Exposure has already garnered participation from major names both domestic and international, including Andre Kertesz, an important force in the early American photojournalism of the 1930s, and Phil Borges, whose stunning portraiture in developing countries has gained him both photographic and humanitarian awards.

Though the lineup seems promising, a common criticism of young festivals is that their identities are not yet fully defined. Professor in the faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Calgary Art Nishimura sees the ensuing ecclecticism in a more positive light.

“I think it’s too young to distill any of that kind of identity yet. I don’t know if, in these times, [Calgary’s] ready for a full-blown fine arts kind of festival. For this kind of festival, I don’t want to see it come from the academy¬≠.”

Regardless of identity issues, Nishimura is confident that the participants share a common goal.

“We’re looking at developing the audience for photography in Calgary,” explains Nishimura. “Photography is the primary visual medium today. Exposure will hopefully come to rival the [Calgary International Film Festival] as far as appeal. Next year’s going to be bigger and better. I think it will be a very successful event.”

Exposure runs through the month of February at various studios in Banff and Calgary. More info at www.exposurecalgarybanff.com.

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