Opening day of Intersections, an exhibition of photographs from points across the planet at Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada. February 6, 2020. ©J. Ashley Nixon
A new photographic gallery was opened this week at Mount Royal University (MRU) as part of Exposure, Alberta’s Photography Festival. Entitled Intersections, it features the work of six photographers exploring the idea that life itself is what connects us rather than where we happen to find ourselves unconsciously observing. The installation provides access for all to observe and explore as they pass by a wall near the East Gate inside Main Street. The crisp graphical design, created by MRU’s Michal Waissmann, positions photographs geographically from East to West, each location mapped out by its latitude and longitude coordinates.
People and places
Curtis (Dez) Desiatnyk, whose day job as Manager of Insurance and Operational Risk at MRU also includes voluntary work leading the university arts committee, is the curator and an exhibiting photographer in the show that remains on campus throughout the year.
The show has a look at the idea of globalization.
“The show has a look at the idea of globalization, what that means and how that’s affecting how we live every day,” Desiatnyk said in his opening remarks at the launch event on February 6. He talked about how the exhibition seeks to spread positivity and show some of the commonalities that we have as a human race.
“The idea to have images from across the world is to try to break down some of those barriers that we see developing with the use of social media.” He went on to talk about how people’s lives can be dictated by the algorithms that control what we get from our social media feeds.
East to West
The images displayed feature work by Desiatnyk, Asim Overstands, and Cary Schatz made in landmark cities such as Berlin, Havana, Paris, New York, Shangai, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. Dhaka, Bangladesh is also mapped with a portrait from Jeremy Fokkens who published a book about human connections in 2014. One less known location, Swakopmund, Namibia, is featured in black and white photographs made by Anne Tapler White. That curious, isolated place with its legacy of whaling, diamond mining and German colonialism on the Atlantic coast of southwest Africa can be experienced if you can sustain a lengthy journey across the stark, yet beautiful Namib desert.
One of Desiatnyk’s displayed photographs is a reflections-rich composition from downtown Calgary, an important place for his street photography that also features elsewhere on the MRU campus. In the following short film clip, he talks with me about how he composed his image:
To the right of the Intersections installation is a triptych by Zach Polis entitled We’re Softer Now, Surer Now. The title is likely inspired at least in part by Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese, which he quoted from during his launch remarks.
Polis, a writer, filmmaker, photographer who also has the title of Poet Laureate to St. Albert, travelled to Chigasaki in Japan to create his series that features sunbathers. Their relaxed empathy with their surrounding environment supports the opinion of Monocle Magazine which listed this coastal city located about 60 km south of Tokyo as one of the best small city places to live in the world.
It’s a rare sight to see people without their smart phones.
Polis spoke about the importance of searching for repeating situations and visual patterns to create his photographic series as he travelled around Chigasaki on the back of his friend’s motorbike. “What makes these photos so special is just being presented something so every day but really, it’s a rare sight to see people without their smartphones…out in public, but in their own introverted world.”
Intersections can be found at MRU at 51.0114° N, 114.1314° W until 2021-01-31.
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