Lecture series kicks off with stellar lineup

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By Erin Kobayashi

Come one, come all to the 26th annual Kodak lecture series. But make sure you come early.

Starting on Oct. 12, the school of image arts will bring celebrated photographers, painters, sculptors and other visual artists from around the world to Ryerson to talk about their work. With free admission, it’s no surprise that with every lecture, the theatre fills to capacity.

“Sometimes we can’t fit everyone in,” says co-ordinator Robert Burley. “If you want to see these lectures, you have to come early.”

Such a large turnout can only be expected considering the number of reputable names in the image, design, writing and film fields scheduled to speak.

This year’s lectures kick off with New York’s Lorna Simpson, a documentary photographer. Other speakers include Dutch photographer and video artist Rineke Dijkstra and London’s Tom Hunter, who creates environmental portraits, to name a few.With lectures coming from as far away as Barcelona and Amsterdam, it’s no wonder Toronto designers like Bruce Mau consider this to be the best lecture series in Canada.

“Basically, we put together a wish list,” says co-ordinator Jennifer Long. “We ask the community, students and alumni for their most favourable suggestions.”

Montreal-based artist Nicolas Baier says he’s not yet prepared for his lecture on Oct.19th. He wasn’t aware of how big the Kodak lectures were until he saw advertisements for the series in Montreal.

“How can I interest a crowd for one hour?” he says. “My work is not very sexy.”

Baier photographs everyday objects then reconstructs the pictures to make them interesting and unique.

He won’t rehearse what he is going to say, but students can expect him to talk about working in the field of artistic design. As a Concordia University dropout, he wants to encourage students to “believe in themselves and don’t listen to their teacher.”

Long says Baier is a particularly exciting speaker. She hopes that bringing such diverse image artists to Ryerson will inspire students in their own work.

The lecture series is breaking out of its traditional mould this year by incorporating  award-winning Berlin-based Canadian conceptual artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, who mix sound into their exhibits.

Despite such reputable speakers, Ryerson students usually only fill about 40 per-cent of the lecture hall. Burley says the rest of the crowd is alumni, diehard fans and the Toronto art crowd.

Burley and Long would like to see more students attend since the lectures are held on their home turf.

If you can’t get into the lecture, head over to the Library Pub afterward. “It’s almost standard to go there,” says Long. “It gives [students] a chance to interact with the artist.”

So be there or be square, or of course, any other shape in the world of design.

The 26th Kodak Lecture Series starts Oct. 12 and runs through to March. Admission is free.

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