Geoffrey James "Storefront, Dundas Street, Toronto, 2011
Geoffrey James "Storefront, Dundas Street, Toronto, 2011 Colour photograph, archival pigment ink on 100% rag paper Edition 2/5 - 24” x 36”/ 61 x 94 cm (image)
Internationally admired Toronto-based photographer Geoffrey James has been selected as Toronto's first Photo Laureate, pending approval from City Council at its March session.
“Photography is a powerful way to tell Toronto’s story — to show our city’s diversity, talent and beauty," said Mayor John Tory. "The quality and range of Geoffrey James' work makes him an ideal photo laureate and I look forward to his inspiring work in this role."
“Photography has always helped me to understand the world and Toronto is a wonderful subject," said James. "It’s a city in a constant state of transformation, an exhilarating social experiment, as well as a place that reveals itself slowly. I will do my best to do it justice and to share my love of the medium with others.”
Toronto's Photo Laureate is the first of its kind in Canada. It honours a photographer recognized for exceptional photography and whose work focuses on subjects relevant to the people who live in the city. The Photo Laureate will champion photography and visual arts in the city, and will use his or her perspective to create a dialogue on contemporary issues.
James will receive an annual honorarium of $10,000 for a three-year appointment from March 31, 2016 to March 31, 2019. He is expected to commit a portion of his working time to duties as Toronto’s ambassador of visual and photographic culture at events that promote those arts. He will also develop a legacy project, designed in co-operation with City staff, which will be unique to the individual Photo Laureate.
"This Photo Laureate appointment shows that Toronto continues to be a cultural innovator and leader in Canada," said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City's Economic Development Committee. "James' work over the next three years will help other cities to picture how this could culturally benefit them too."
James is recognized internationally as a master of landscape and urban photography. Self-taught, he began making images in the early 1970s. He has exhibited extensively in Canada, the United States and Europe, and in 2012 he received the Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts. He is the author, or subject of, more than a dozen books and monographs, and he writes about photography. His more recent works focus on urban and suburban landscapes, and his 2007 book "Toronto" was nominated for a Toronto Book Award.
James is a Fellow of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, New York. He is a recipient of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, among many other accolades and awards. His work is also featured on a 2015 Canada Post stamp. The portrait, of artist Alex Colville, was taken while he was writing a profile of the iconic Canadian painter for Time Canada.
James was nominated by a selection committee assembled from Toronto's photography and visual arts community.
He is represented by TrepanierBaer in Calgary.
Report courtesy TrepanierBaer and City of Toronto