Breaking new ground as the first-ever national photography contest and exhibition, rooted right here in Edmonton, The Future is a fitting theme for this year’s InFocus event.
InFocus started as an idea shared across a restaurant table in the summer of 2015, between founder and curator Alexis Marie Chute and her husband Aaron.
“We saw a need for a national photography exhibition held in Western Canada, specifically Edmonton,” she says.
Since 2002, Chute has been “bootstrapping it,” basically, as a visual artist, attempting to figure out how to get her photographs, sculptures and other artwork seen in galleries. InFocus acts as a way for young artists to be represented alongside other up-and-comers and, now—as its profile has expanded—veterans of the craft.
It began with local work, showing a few Edmonton photographers in Harcourt House in 2015, then grew last year to include Alberta artists at the dc3 Art Projects gallery. This year, the burgeoning exhibition is being hosted at The Front Gallery from Feb. 7 to Feb. 28, and features photographers from around Canada, students and enthusiasts rubbing artistic shoulders with veterans from coast to coast.
“It really is trying to bring together really amazing photography. It’s not like you have to have a long C.V. full of galleries to have access to the space,” Chute says. “It doesn’t really matter where you’re from. It’s more of the eye of the person that’s taking the picture.”
This year 190 photos were submitted by deadline. Of them, organizers selected 45 for the show, representing 27 photographers from across Canada. Of those, 13 are local.
When Chute put forward InFocus’s theme—The Future, in a very broad sense—she says the contributors ran with it, and the interpretation of the idea spawned some interesting results.
Local artist Andy Greening’s three pieces ponder the future of Edmonton’s urban development, particularly surrounding Northlands Coliseum, which is quickly losing many of its big-ticket events.
“[He’s] documenting something old before it’s gone,” Chute says.
Then, perhaps a little more direct in its approach, there’s a portrait of local actor Mark Meer dressed in the garb of Commander Shepard (who Meer voices) of Mass Effect game fame.
“We’re just amalgamating so many different photographer’s voices and, in doing that, we have a really innovative exhibition,” Chute says.
Like exhibits prior, 2017’s run of InFocus is offering a people’s choice award, provided by Vistek, in which anyone from around the world could vote on their favourite submission once per day. The winner will be announced during the opening reception on Thursday, Feb. 9.
The following night, the gallery will host portfolio reviews, in which local professionals—like documentarian Larry Louie and photographer Curtis Trent—in the field will weigh in on aspiring photographer’s works, although this segment costs $40. Anyone interested needs to register online prior to that evening at InFocusPhoto.ca.
Submissions for next year’s contest will be open sometime during the first week of March.
“I think Canadians are just as brave and bold and experimental and thoughtful as photographers from anywhere else in the world,” Chute says. “We just might not be as in-your-face.”
InFocus Photography Exhibition and Competition
Tues., Feb. 7 to Tues., Feb. 28
The Front Gallery, free