Jane Corkin at Film, Media, and Toronto’s Built Environment

“Queen West, Toronto” by Y'amal is licensed under CC BY 2.0
[Ed. note: This piece is part of our broader coverage of the March 2018 “Film, Media, and Toronto’s Built Environment” event, presented at the University of Toronto during this year’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference and organized by Mediapolis‘s own Stanley Corkin. Kate Lawrie Van de Ven covered the event for us, and previously in this series we’ve published her recap. In the coming weeks we’ll be publishing audio from the event, part of a new initiative here at the journal that we’re calling “Mediapolis Live.” We’ve asked Kate to introduce each of the speakers, and we’re publishing audio and – where possible – illustrations to accompany each of their presentations.]

The first participant was Jane Corkin, founder of Toronto’s Corkin Gallery, which pioneered valuing photography in gallery settings. Corkin introduced a series of photos, most of which were the large-format work of photographer Thaddeus Holownia, depicting primarily the city’s Queen West neighbourhood in the 1970s through 1990s. Corkin describes Holownia as “a documentarian… interested in how a place changes and how time changes a place.” Corkin’s manifest nostalgia for a pre-globalization Toronto – and pre-gentrification Queen West – evident in her comments about the photos would possibly have been lost on non-locals or even younger Torontonians who may struggle to see the loss of a chicken market (in a neighbourhood now known for its 21st century cool) as any kind of loss at all, but it was certainly an attitude shared by several on the panel. This nostalgia for something authentic and dissatisfaction with generic non-places installed by global neoliberalism and franchise commerce is not unique to Toronto. What perhaps is unique about it in a Toronto setting is the city’s much longer-standing obsession with its own insecurity and fabled neurosis about ascending to the ranks of “world-class city.” – Kate Lawrie Van de Ven

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