Brookfield Place is a beautiful commercial building, designed by Santiago Calatrava in the business district of downtown Toronto. The central atrium, the Allen Lambert Galleria, is used by the building’s owners, Brookfield Office Properties, as an exhibit space. Until October 21st 2013, the featured display is World Press Photo 2013, a traveling exhibit of prize-winning photos from the annual World Press Photo contest.
- World Press Photo 2013 the Allen Lambert Galleria,
- Brookfield Place, Toronto. October 2013.
World Press Photo 2013 is part of an ongoing program of exhibitions in the Galleria, Earlier this year the space featured installations for city-wide events such as Nuit Blanche, Luminato, and the Contact Photography Festival among others. Brookfield Office Properties funds Arts Brookfield, described on the company’s website:
Brookfield Office Properties enlivens its public spaces through an acclaimed visual and performing arts program. Arts Brookfield is committed to working with regional artists and commissioning original works of art in all disciplines including visual art, dance, theater and music. These events offer artists unique opportunities to work in new and unusual spaces while providing provocative cultural experiences for tenants and visitors alike.
For its part, the website of World Press Photo explains:
The exhibition is a showcase for creativity in photojournalism and a platform for developments in the profession, part of World Press Photo’s aim of encouraging and stimulating the work of press photographers around the world. The show also attracts a broader public and, because of the wide-ranging focus of the contest, forms an eyewitness record of world events from the previous year.
And so, it is clear that the strategic priorities of the exhibit producer and the host venue are perfectly aligned.
During a recent visit late on a weekday morning, the exhibit was attracting attention from visitors who seemed to be either building tenants or business people taking a few minutes to look at the photos on their way to lunch. Other visitors looked more like tourists, some with cameras taking close-ups of their favourite images. Information about the photographs was provided for visitors by short labels identifying the photographer and the title of the photo. For more information, an Exhibition Guide app was provided (although only for Android and iPhone, not Blackberry). For each photo it was possible to find out:
- Audio captions for all photos on display
- Equipment details
- Photo’s location
In addition, World Press Photo provides a free downloadable Teachers’ Guide about journalism and press photography. It is not possible to be certain, but perhaps some of those enjoying the exhibit here at Brookfield Place may not have taken the time to make a special trip to a gallery or museum to see it.
World Press Photo is run as an independent, non-profit organization with its office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where World Press Photo was founded in 1955. World Press Photo receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon. The Toronto Sponsors were Brookfield and The Globe and Mail. One panel gave information about Canon’s role in supporting World Press Photo, although it was not prominent and its scale similar to sponsorship panels I have seen in exhibits in public museums and galleries.
And so, here is a commercial building with a cultural program, hosting an exhibit in a publicly accessible space from a not for profit foundation featuring the work of press photographers selected via a competitive (i.e.. curated) process. The lines between private enterprise and public cultural presentation are intersecting, although not, in this case, I think, blurring. But what didn’t I mention? Admission is free. How will this exhibit compare to another exhibit based on a photography contest — Wildlife Photographer of the Year — opening at the Royal Ontario Museum on November 23rd? It will be interesting to see…..
World Press Photo 13 is travelling internationally.
[PS: all the images in this post were taken with my cell phone (obviously, I am not a contender for any photography prize!)]