Double page from Open Passport, by John Max, published as a special double issue of the magazine Impressions, Toronto, 1973. Artexte collection.

Canadian Photography Magazines, 1970-1990: Reconsidering a History of Photography in Print

An exhibition curated by Zoë Tousignant

September 8 - November 5, 2016

Opening reception: Thursday, September 8, 2016, at 5:30 PM


Over the past ten years, the photobook has increasingly been recognized as an expressive form that is essential to a full appreciation of photography and its history. Its ability to disseminate the photographic image far and wide, across cultures and borders, has positioned the photobook at the forefront of an intellectual movement that seeks to understand the circumstances under which photography is experienced.

This exhibition is devoted to the photobook’s print “cousin”: the photography magazine. Composed of documents drawn from Artexte’s collection, it offers a new perspective on the photography magazines published in Quebec and Canada between 1970 and 1990 – Impressions, Image Nation, OVO, Photo Communiqué, Blackflash and Ciel variable. The assembled publications attest to a “boom” of photographic activity during this period and to the establishment of a discourse on contemporary photography in Canada. They also capture a time marked both by exciting artistic experimentation and impassioned debate.

Contextualized in the exhibition by a timeline designed to paint a wider picture of the rapid institutionalization of photography in Canada during the 1970s and 1980s, these magazines can be broadly categorized as meeting grounds for the various actors and ideas in circulation or outlets for visual exploration in printed form. In the absence in this country of an established photobook publishing industry, these periodicals, though produced in an ostensibly ephemeral medium, satisfied a desire to consolidate divergent and emerging practices. Presented from a vantage point that aims to convey their historical value, the selected magazines invite a reconsideration of this vibrant period in the history of contemporary photography in Canada.