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AGO to celebrate WorldPride 2014 Toronto with exhibition of queer photography

TORONTO — WorldPride 2014 takes Toronto by storm this June, and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) plans to celebrate with a special exhibition. Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography will examine the play of gender in photography and video, and is set to open on June 18, 2014, days before the official start to the festival.

On view until September, Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography features a group of artists whose work documents, questions and extends the practice of drag, often now seen as conceptual performance art. Curated by Sophie Hackett, associate curator of photography, the exhibition explores the artists’ sometimes playful views on fashioning identity through images, building on a range of sources from Claude Cahun to LIFE magazine to television soap operas. Featuring historical and contemporary works by Canadian and international artists, Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography draws from the AGO photography collection and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, as well as select loans from private collections.

Adding to this significant moment in the city, the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) will simultaneously open a related exhibition, also curated by Hackett. What It Means To Be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility will focus on how photographs—press images and snapshots, in particular—have helped to coalesce a sense of common experience and connection within gay communities. Drawing from Ryerson University’s Black Star Collection and from prominent institutional holdings worldwide, the exhibition will allow viewers to see how the medium has historically been used (and misused) to make queer people visible, collectively and individually. The exhibition is presented by TD Bank Group and will be on view at the RIC from June 18 to Aug. 24, 2014.

“The issue of visibility has long been tied to the idea of greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community,” said Hackett. “These two exhibitions provide an opportunity to reflect on and explore the role of photography in creating visibility for queer people through the work of both international and local artists. This is an incredible chance to see some of rich photographic material that deals with the topic from a number of sources, including the AGO’s photography collection and the RIC’s acclaimed Black Star Collection.”

Further details will be announced as they become available.

Contemporary programming at the AGO is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

The AGO acknowledges the generous support of Aimia, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program.

With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Kenneth Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO and to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

Nov. 30, 2013 – March 2, 2014: The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918

April 5, 2014 July 6, 2014: Francis Bacon & Henry Moore

The Art Gallery of Ontario receives additional operating support from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Laura Banks; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 504,

Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 403,

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