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Features / May 15, 2008

Arnaud Maggs: Contaminations and Other Conventions

Arnaud Maggs Contamination 136/137 2007

Over the past decade, veteran Toronto photographer Arnaud Maggs has created some impressive art using found publications as sources for his imagery. His latest show, “Contamination,” shows a water-damaged ledger dating from the 1905 Yukon gold rush. The factual transactions recorded on its pages share space with the mould formations that eventually came to mark the book.

Marred pages and bleeding ink become signs of a hard history shaped and motivated by expectations of wealth. The mould spores become an animating force that takes the ledger as its host. And as Maggs’s photos progress though the book, the mould subsides and gradually disappears—the whole sequence reading as a broken fever, a metaphor for material desires and delusional dreams. (137 Tecumseth St, Toronto ON)