The Right to Dream: Art in the Public Realm

Join guest curators Sara Knelman, Gaëlle Morel, and Mark Sealy for a discussion about public art and the photographic projects they have each curated in this year’s CONTACT Festival, respectively: Farah Al Qasimi: Night Swimming presented along the platform of Davisville Subway Station; Seif Kousmate: Waha (Oasis) presented on billboards at King Street West and Strachan Avenue; and Writing Without Words: The Autoportraits of Hélène Amouzou, presented at Metro Hall along King Street West at John Street.


Sara Knelman is a curator, writer and Executive Director and Publisher, C Magazine. She has worked as Executive Director of Two Rivers Gallery; Director, Corkin Gallery; Talks Programmer, The Photographers’ Gallery; and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Sara holds a PhD from the Courtauld Institute, where her research focused on the history of photographic exhibitions. She has taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London South Bank University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and the University of Toronto, and recently contributed to A World History of Women Photographers (Thames & Hudson, 2022) and Double Double, Protein Style, Animal Style with a Strawberry Shake and Chips: Stories the Feet Have Told, by Wyatt Conlon (The Fulcrum Press, 2022). Current curatorial projects include Farah Al Qasimi: Night Swimming (CONTACT Festival, 2023), and a presentation of her collection of photographs of women reading is on view in Le Plaisir du Text at MBAL, Switzerland. Sara has written about contemporary art and photography for 1000 Words, Aperture, Canadian Art, Frieze, Prefix Photo and Source: The Photographic Review. She collects pictures of women reading, and lives in Toronto.

Dr. Gaëlle Morel has been the Exhibitions Curator at The Image Centre since 2010. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including Berenice Abbott: Photographies (2012), Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases (2014), Burn with Desire. Photography and Glamour (2015), Scotiabank Photography Award: Suzy Lake (2017) and Meryl McMaster: As Immense as the Sky (2019). Her most recent project includes the exhibition and accompanying catalogue on American photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s project Ward 81 (2023). In 2009, Morel was the guest curator of the photography biennial Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, and she is currently an instructor in the Film + Photography Preservation and Collections Management graduate program at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Dr. Mark Sealy OBE, Executive Director of Autograph (1991– ) and Professor, Photography, Rights and Representation at University Arts London – London College of Communication, is interested in the relationship between art, photography and social change, identity politics, race, and human rights. Sealy gained his PhD from Durham University, England. He has written for many of the world’s leading photographic journals, produced numerous artist publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide. In addition, he is an advisor (management + committees) to several leading cultural institutions, including Tate, Paul Mellon Centre for the Studies in British Art, Art Fund, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, World Press Photo, and the International Centre of Photography in New York, USA. Lawrence and Wishart have published Sealy’s critical writings on photography, Photography: Race, Rights and Representation, published 2022 and Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time, published 2019.