Five photography exhibits you won’t want to miss this summer

Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress at Yonge Dundas Square

Visual art is all about movement. The images framed or captured through an artist’s vision can transport you, but it’s also an opportunity to physically move around the city, to immerse yourself in beauty, protest or simply another person’s point of view.

The Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival offers a fun, easy way to travel through Toronto neighbourhoods (check out the listings at, or the physical map available at participating venues), with many exhibitions running through the summer.

Here are five more shows to keep you moving, thinking — and maybe indulging in some food-truck feasts.

Edward Burtynsky, “In the Wake of Progress” (Yonge Dundas Square)

Photographer Ed Burtynsky has spent his career documenting the devastating impact of industry on the global environment, creating some of the most profound images of our time. Forty years in the making, Burtynsky’s largest project to date, “In the Wake of Progress,” is a free public art installation combining videos and images from his career, co-produced by fellow eco-hero and music producer Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper), with an original score composed by Phil Strong, vocals by Cree Métis artist iskwē and performances by musicians from the Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory of Music. The 22-minute immersive experience launches June 11–12 at Yonge Dundas Square as part of the Luminato festival, before moving to the Canadian Opera Centre Theatre for a two-week stay.

Sunil Gupta, “From Here to Eternity. Sunil Gupta, A Retrospective” (Ryerson Image Centre)

Sunil Gupta, #7, from Sun City, 2010 (printed 2011). Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, London and New York; Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto; and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi.

If you’re in the neighbourhood hungry for more visual stimuli, add a visit to the photography gallery at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson University) to your Pride Month to-dos. Running until Aug. 6, Sunil Gupta’s personal-documentary photos traverse the Gay Liberation Movement of the 1970s from Montreal to New York and London, offering an insider’s perspective of a history that some may now take for granted. Gupta’s more recent works focus on his birthplace in India and his LGBTQ+ and two-spirited activism work. While you’re there, sashay over to the exhibition “Mauvais Genre/Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers,” which collects images from the 1880s to the 1980s, not just of fabulous drag queens but of those who quietly defied the gender expectations of their time.

“Image? The Power of the Visual” (Aga Khan Museum)

Coronation Siamak Filzadeh (b. 1970), Iran.

It’s hard to put your phone away when inside the gorgeous Aga Khan Museum — the building’s architectural design is begging for an Instagram shot or 12. But that is exactly what the museum’s ambitious new exhibition, “Image? The Power of the Visual,” is asking you to do, at least for a while. Divided into five themes, including Faith & Spirituality, Power & Authority and Values & Ideas, this multidisciplinary show presents a wide range of contemporary and historical works that demonstrate how image-making has been used over centuries to unite and divide, and for personal self-expression. The show runs until Sept. 5, but if you plan your visit between June 28 to July 3, you can catch the Rhythms of Canada festival featuring outdoor performances, food trucks and a souk-style marketplace.

Mimi Lien, “Parade” (The Bentway)

Bentway: PARADE by Mimi Lien (2022) (Rendering)

The Bentway always offers a cool reprise — in all senses of the word — from the Gardiner Expressway traffic above. This summer, the outdoor trail and public art locale has a packed schedule, starting with New York artist Mimi Lien’s “Parade,” a 650-foot conveyor belt carrying colourful pylons, bicycles and other road symbols high above the skating trail. (Though not necessary, pretend you’re in Xanadu, and book roller skate rentals in advance at The installations extend through the summer with works by the Ogimaa Mikana Project, which focuses on reinstalling Anishinaabemowin place names throughout the city, and Michael Lee Poy’s joyful Carnival-inspired transformation, which ends with a community parade on July 17. This summer the Bentway is busting out of its home with a series of workshops and performances, including nightwalks led by teenagers, produced by the popular Mammalian Diving Reflex. Check out all the activities and register at

Zahra Siddiqui, “The Face of Islam” (Downsview Park)

Zahra Siddiqui's installation titled "The Face of Islam" at Downsview Park

ArtworxTO, the yearlong initiative celebrating public art in the city, continues through the season at various locations (visit for the full schedule), including at Downsview Park with Zahra Siddiqui’s series of intimate portraits of the Muslim community. The installation counters the often-monolithic view of Islamic identity by celebrating beauty and individuality. On May 28, from noon to 3 p.m., Siddiqui will be handing out flowers and shooting photos. Or time your visit for June 10–12, when Foodalicious takes over Downsview with carnival rides, live music and, yes, food trucks.


Sue Carter is deputy editor of Inuit Arts Quarterly and a freelance contributor based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @flinnflon


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