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Photopolis and Nocturne: Where Darkrooms Meet White Nights

Though the west coast might claim the title of photoconceptualist central, the east coast has its own rightful photo heroes. At no time is this more apparent than during Photopolis, Halifax’s biennial festival of the photo arts. This year, an overlapping event will further up the ante, with many Photopolis exhibits staying open late for Nocturne, Halifax’s first crack at the increasingly popular Nuit Blanche style of arts festival.

To start with, this year’s Photopolis highlights are manifold. “Click” at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia features work from Barbara Astman, Raymonde April, Cora Cluett, Shari Hatt, Jocelyne Alloucherie, Katharine Knight and Carolee Schneemann. At the Dalhousie Art Gallery, Carol Condé and Karl Beveridge’s travelling survey of socially conscious photography projects offers continuing food for thought.

Opening this week and connected to the fest are Guelph artist Susan Dobson’s images of retail architectures at the Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery. In an interesting turn, Dobson’s work is accompanied by a tri-panel video projection of a beach from Australian photo-based artist Allan Charm, produced in collaboration with composer Andrew Chubb. (This weekend, Chubb, a noted interpreter of Philip Glass, will perform his own composition, Meditation at Bar Beach, live at the gallery.) NSCAD instructors also make a good showing, with Adrian Fish’s photographs of empty theatres at Studio 21 providing audiences with a measure of reflection, and Robert Bean’s exhibit of NSCAD’s Andy Warhol ephemera putting legends in perspective.

Nocturne will also offer a variety of its own attractions. In its inaugural edition, the festival will see 28 galleries and other venues stay open from 6pm to midnight this Saturday, along with 24 public art installations and performances.

With these kinds of events, highlights are always easier to detect on site than in advance. But there are several stops that already look compelling. Blink! Gallery’s showing of 3-D screenprints by Halifax art-poster duo Yo Rodeo promises fun, while a special Art Gallery of Nova Scotia screening of Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby’s A Year in the Life of the World might provide more sublimely sobering views. The vacillation between frolic and fear will continue over on the Dalhousie campus, where Adriana Kuiper will install a temporary wartime-inspired shelter. Artist Lisa Lipton will also be riffing on these ideas during her High on a Hill performance at the Khyber, where Heidi’s Swiss mountaintops will meet global warming warnings.

Also worth checking out is an evening of installation and video projection by Manual Training Collective, a group comprised of artists Tonia Di Risio, Glynis Humphrey, James MacSwain, Mathew Reichertz and Helen Yeomans. Finally, Scott Saunders and Nikolai Gauer’s public videos focusing in on select parts of the face in uncanny ways might just invade art lovers’s dreams as they drift off into the wee hours.

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