Tonight is the opening of 10×10, a photography project spearheaded by Toronto artist James Fowler. The talented Mr. Fowler decided it was time to make up for what he saw as a lack of representation for artists during our city’s annual Pride celebration. So he called up 10 queer Toronto photographers and asked them to photograph 10 of their “favourite queers in the arts.” The result is an exhibit that runs until July 8 at The White House in Kensington Market, as well as an art book that sells for just $40, proceeds of which will go to The People Project.
I caught a sneak peek of the exhibit yesterday, and was blown away by the photographers’ distinct styles and the fascinating approaches they chose. Some pieces seduce you with their tender reverence, others exude a more in-your-face subversiveness. Each portrait uncovers something unique about the subject and the photographer, and consequently speaks to the incredible (warning: cliché ahead) diversity of the Toronto queer arts community.
What is perhaps most intriguing is the astonishing number of inter-connections between the photographers and their models. This is by no means the definitive “who’s who” of the Toronto queer arts scene — it’s a mixed bag of the well-known and the up-and coming, and the artists on the walls work in wildly divergent fields. But that’s what makes it interesting, and surprisingly touching.
The project reveals a powerful and vibrant network of creative people in our midst, something that’s rarely been acknowledged in such a blatant and public way. Artists can be solitary animals, but this exhibit drags the community’s powerful collective voice out of the closet.
Viewing this exhibit is as liberating an experience as you’re likely to get at Pride this year. It’s a sorely needed antidote to the controversy and apathy that has dogged Toronto’s gay community of late.