Thomas Ruff: Object Relations at AGO

May 5, 2016

In May 2016, The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival marks its 20th anniversary. This year, the festival celebrates with an impressively expanded program, including 20 primary exhibitions, 20 free public installations and over 200 events throughout the city.

FAJO has already reported on Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s -1980s, which is part of the festival. Art Gallery of Ontario is now putting on another exhibition, that is one of the primary shows: the first solo North American exhibition Object Relations by renowned German photographer Thomas Ruff.

Object Relations features over 40 large-scale photographs including works from the artist’s ongoing series negatives (2014 – ongoing), in addition to his acclaimed series Sterne (1989 – 1992), Zeitungsfotos (1990 – 1991) and Maschinen (2003 – 2004). Ruff plays on the relation between objects and how we see them, such as film negatives or newspaper pictures cut-outs without a context.

Also included in the exhibition are works from Ruff’s personal collection of photographic materials, including an 1885 study of a spark by Étienne Léopold Trouvelot; electrocardiograms from 1909; nude studies from 1923; and two majestic photograms by Arthur Siegel from the 1940s.

Object Relations also marks the debut of four new works, never shown before, from the artist’s latest series: press++ (2015 – ongoing). The artist was interested in not only the front of the images of mid-20th-century press photographs, but also the back of them. By merging images of the front with the captions, stamps, marks and inscriptions found on their versos, Ruff has created large-scale montages that explore the constructed nature of such images.

On April 27, Ruff personally hosted a special tour for his exhibition, where he explained technical details of how he created some of his works or acquired specific photographs of his collection. The highlights of the event are captured below.

Thomas Ruff : Object Relations is on display from April 28 to July 31, 2016 at the AGO.

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By Darina Granik
Photography by Maryna Svyatyshenko

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