Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities – May 2015

Expanding Cities Takes Over Toronto’s Warden Subway Station for CONTACT Photo Festival


Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities features noted Mexican artist, Alejandro Cartagena’s images on 55 advertising posters, converting Toronto’s Warden subway station into a distinctive exhibition space. The exhibition also threads throughout the city’s subway system, via a series of videos by Kingston, Ontario art duo, Julia Krolik and Owen Fernley capturing the attention of more than one million daily commuters from May 1 to 31, 2015.

An official public installation of Scotiabank CONTACT, Toronto’s annual photography festival, the 9th annual Contacting Toronto addresses issues of transportation, suburban development and sustainability. Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities is curated by Sharon Switzer.

Cartagena’s series Carpoolers (2011–2012) adopts a bird’s eye view of construction workers and landscapers gathered together in the beds of pickup trucks. Travelling to the wealthy suburban communities outside of Monterrey, Mexico that they build and maintain, the men lounge together, nestled among the tools and detritus of their professions. His Suburbia Mexicana (2006–2010) series focuses on the rise of poorer suburbs. Tiny cookie-cutter homes spread across the horizon, while families pose in front of these simple dwellings, proud of their new neighbourhoods.

Intersection (2015) is a series of videos by Krolik and Fernley, shown non-stop on 5 TTC LCD screens throughout Warden Station and every 5 minutes at 62 other stations across the city. Aerial views of suburban homes, roads, and parking lots are revealed with map-like precision, through the use of government orthophotos. The artists created a custom image processor to randomly sample images from a suburban region north of the GTA. Appearing as a triptych of changing images, this expanse transforms continuously as unnamed communities replace one another, details blurring into a seemingly never-ending suburban landscape.

“The artwork in Expanding Cities asks viewers to think critically about suburban expansion and sustainability,” said Sharon Switzer, National Arts Programmer and Curator, PATTISON Onestop. “Warden station, at the eastern edge of Toronto’s subway system, may seem like an unlikely place to mount an ambitious art installation, but I believe the relatively remote location will enhance viewers’ appreciation of work.”

To view a selection of Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities images and an exhibition essay by Nives Hajdin, please visit

Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities is co-produced by PATTISON Onestop and Art for Commuters, in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, with financial support from the Ontario Arts Council and PATTISON Outdoor’s Art in Transit program. 

Connected Events

Alejandro Cartagena: Learning from Latin American (Sub)Urbanism
Artist talk, followed by a conversation with author, Shawn Micallef. This event is co-presented by CONTACT, Latin American-Canadian Art Projects Speaker Series (LACAP), the Faculty of Art at OCAD University (Photography Department), and Circuit Gallery, in conjunction with Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities.
Friday, May 8th at 6:00pm
Location: OCADU, 100 McCaul Street, Room 230

Alejandro Cartagena: The Photobook
Cartagena will teach a two day workshop focused on photo book history, edit and sequencing methods. Cartagena’s recent self-published book carpooler was listed as one of the best photo books in 2014 by Time magazine. This event is co-presented by Gallery 44, Centre for Contemporary Photography, CONTACT, LACAP and Circuit Gallery, in conjunction with Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities.
Wednesday, May 6th – Thursday, May 7th
Gallery 44 Centre For Contemporary Photography, 401 Richmond St W, Suite 120

Artist Bios

Alejandro Cartagena lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. Cartagena’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in public and private collections in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and the United States, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, the Portland Museum of Art and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Cartagena has received the Photolucida Critical Mass Book Award, the Lente Latino award in Chile, and the Premio IILA-Fotografia 2012 award in Rome. He has been named a FOAM Magazine Talent and one of PDN’s 30 International Emerging Photographers to watch. Cartagena’s work has been published internationally in magazines such as Newsweek, The New York Times Lens blog, Nowness, Domus, The Financial Times, View, The Guardian, le Monde, PDN, The New Yorker, The Independent, Monocle and Wallpaper. His monograph Suburbia Mexicana was published in 2011 (Daylight/Photolucida) and his latest book Carpoolers was released in 2014 (Fonca – Conaculta). He is represented by Circuit Gallery (Toronto).   /

Owen Fernley is an engineer and experimental musician. He builds user interface tools in javascript to aid in exploration geophysics, and has experience programming computational engines in Fortran and C. He codes conceptual HTML5 audio visualizers and collects field recordings for audio production and instrument sound design. He co-created Decomposing Pianos, an experimental music collective focusing on art, science, experimental music and new media. At his core, he is an improvisational piano player who applies the same methodology to the use of technology in the projects he pursues.

Julia Krolik self identifies as a polymath. Formally educated in the sciences, her work has taken numerous turns and includes research involving micro/molecular biology, statistics, cell biology, biochemistry, geospatial analytics, public health, water quality and hydrogeology. As an exhibiting artist, Julia pushes her boundaries by exploring all mediums necessary (including radio, digital media, performance art, video art, experimental music and dance) to realize her ideas. She co-created Decomposing Pianos, an experimental music collective focusing on science, art, experimental music and new media. Her diverse background enables a rare cross disciplinary empathy and she continuously advocates for both art and science.

Media Contact: Marie Nazar, Arts Publicist, PATTISON Onestop: 416-762-7702 | marie.nazar @


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