by Lindsay Voegelin
Gender and the Body
The annual graduate exhibition for Ryerson’s School of Image Arts in Toronto is proud to present the photographic winners of this year’s 17th annual Maximum Exposure festival.
The three winners represent a strong vein of photographic work from second to fourth year students. Selected by our distinguished panel of judges, Stephen Bulger, Robert Burley and Annie MacDonell, each series investigates the body through its spectrum of forms and identities in contemporary culture.
The winner of Best in Show for MX Presents: Fourth Year Thesis Exhibition is Erika Wynne Neilly with the series Of Centre. This work explores the expression of gender and identity within individuals who were assigned a female gender at birth but who express their gender on the masculine end of the gender spectrum. Accompanied by sound bites from each subject, this body of work brings a personal voice to the intricate expression of gender and how individuals navigate their bodies through society.
Kyle Lasky’s series Lesbian Bedrooms II also explores the instability within gender identification, specifically within lesbian identity. Winner of Best in Show for MX Presents: 1+2, this series expands on a previous body of work, Lesbian Bedrooms I, but explores and concedes to a greater degree of uncertainty. Without the identification of each sitter as lesbian, how does the reading of these images change? This work considers the instability of identification when gender-orientation labels are not accessible and questions the constancy of labeling when that information is not present.
Finally, our winner of the Best in Show for MX Presents: 3 is Kyra Power with her series Strangers. This work explores the unconventional relationship between the female photographer, the nude figure in photographic art and the unfamiliar subject. Using the online classified website Craigslist, models were recruited to pose nude for the photographer in a private studio at Ryerson. Each person was photographed in two poses of their own choice, followed by a 3/4 full-body profile as positioned by the photographer. Each diptych contrasts the photographer’s visual projection of the body with that of the subject’s while also reversing the traditionally genderized relationship of the gaze from that of an unknown male to that of an unknown female photographer.
In addition to these outstanding bodies of work, honourable mention is deserved for our runners-up for Best in Show: Sam Cotter and Elena Malkova for MX Presents: Fourth Year Thesis Exhibition, Liam Coo for MX Presents: 3 and Zinnia Naqvi for MX Presents: 1+2.