Photographer Laureate

So Toronto city council has approved a new “Photo Laureate” position to echo that of the Poet Laureate, but I think Photographer Laureate is the correct title that they want to bestow. Their intention is surely to honour the artist themselves not just one of their photographs.  I’ve consciously used the word honour here because the only way they motion was passed was by amending the motion so the position came with no monetary prize. There was another caveat, that the work of the honoured artist has to be made available free to the public. You can see the way this all went down here on the City of Toronto site.

So without sounding like a party pooper there are a few things wrong with this well intentioned motion and now newly created position. First, I’m pretty sure they want to create a Photographer Laureate, not a Photo Laureate as mentioned. This is coming from someone who considers themselves to be functionally illiterate. Second, they’ve really narrowed down the playing field to include only old people who no longer rely on an income or the income of their photographs. That’s the upshot of them qualifying the honour by stating that they create the position but “provided that there be no cash prize and the photographs be forwarded to Toronto Archives to be made available to the public.”

So we look forward to the City honouring some old person based on their previous financial success. There are probably quite a few Photographers like this and maybe I’m just a bit envious of the person who will eventually get the position in 2015 prior to them even being appointed. It would be nice to get more people interested and in love with the city, and it’s a neat idea to do it through photography. I just wish they left it open so some younger, gifted person could get the honour. So despite my criticism, congrats to City Council for passing something that wasn’t Crack-Asshole-Ford related. Honestly Mr. Mihevc good on you.

In celebration I went out and shot today.

This was taken on the west side of Keele at the lights that take you into the shops at the Stockyards. Not the new monster mall, but the old big box area with Rona, Home Depot and Crappy Tire. This is a staircase that takes you up to the top level of the industrial mall right on Keele. I’ve looked at it for years but it photographed well today.


The following two images were taken along the back service area of the Dufferin Mall. This place really shows its age along here. I originally ventured down the narrow access road to shoot the walls of the high school athletic field. They’re pretty cool, but today they had a lot of shit graffiti, or should I say “tags” on them. Tags. Graffiti has merit, tags are by assholes.IMG_1571

Back in the day I use to do do store visits to the HMV that was located in here. I worked at Outside Music, a distributor for various labels from around the world. I also remember a story from one of the HMV workers about how notoriously crime filled the mall was. They related an episode where the previous manager had been burgled and held by assailants who brandished and threatened with a shotgun. It’s cleaned up a bit since then, but I imagine its still rough although what were once low income houses that back onto this service corridor are now probably worth more than then average workers can afford. IMG_1577

I walked from Edwin avenue and Dupont to Dundas West and University which is about 7 kilometres. This place on College has been vacant for years now. I don’t really like this photograph–and I’ve never been able to capture it in a way I want too–but it reminded me a bit of Lynne Cohen who died this week. So-long to a great and influential artist that I never met, but would have liked to.IMG_1588

Near the end of the day’s walk I found this empty retail place in Chinatown–on the north side of Dundas West just before the AGO and before I stopped in at Bau-Xi Photo to say hi. The detailed dirtiness of the electrical switches, and their missing sliders contrasts nicely with the framed attempt at decoration. I really like the bad framing of the print, which is probably not even a print, but something pulled from a book. The print itself reminds me of Art History classes and Jeff Wall. This pinkish, flesh-coloured paint is also prevalent in a lot of restaurants of a certain age. Shot through the front widow.IMG_1590

I’ll try and do twice the distance walking today which is Saturday the 17th of May.

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