Kennedy Assassination, one of the pieces in the Black Star collection from 1963 by artist Shel Hershorn. Reproduction from the Black Star collection at ryerson university. courtesy of the Ryerson Image Centre.

Image Centre celebrates art collection

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By Arti Panday

Ryerson will open its doors for Nuit Blanche with the launch of its newest building, the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC), on Saturday night.

The launch exhibition, Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection, will feature eight leading Canadian artists who sought inspiration from the Black Star collection.

The Black Star is a New York based photo agency that was founded in 1935 by three German Jews who were fleeing Nazi Germany. The collection includes approximately 292,000 images taken by more than 6,000 photographers, with photos dating from 1910 to 1992 that trace the social, cultural and political history of the 20th century.

Black Star images were often used in popular publications, including Life magazine and The New York Times.

When the collection was presented to Ryerson in 2005, it became the single largest gift of Canadian cultural property ever given to a university.

“It made total sense to open the gallery with a celebration of the Black Star collection,” said Doina Popescu, director of the RIC.

When deciding which artists to include, Popescu and her co-curator, Peggy Gale, had certain criteria.

“We made a file of 50 or 60 artists who we know had a relationship to photography, had worked with archival processes, had worked with concepts of history from a contemporary point of view, and we wanted eight artists who were Canadian,” said Popescu.

Vid Ingelvics is an associate professor at Ryerson and one of the artists exhibiting his work on opening night. His piece, Conditional Report, is a video displayed in the foyer of the RIC depicting the preservation of the Black Star collection and the transfer from the storage facility to the RIC. The photos are currently at the RIC, but during the construction of the building, they were kept in a storage facility.

“[The RIC] is… a kind of transitional space for a transitional object,” Ingelevics said about his piece in an email.

The RIC will be open to Ryerson students and faculty on Friday, the day before the Nuit Blanche grand opening.

“It’s our deep, sincere hope that every student from every faculty from across Ryerson will find inspiration here,” said Popescu.

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