By Saif Khan
Music and photography enthusiasts enter a bright office turned into a makeshift exhibit space—each window covered with photo prints from concerts, raves and music festivals in Toronto. Chatter, excitement and music fills the space as visitors view the vibrant artwork.
On Nov. 12, Media Pass was presented in the office of Manifesto Community Projects, a local non-profit arts organization. Curated and produced by Imani Dominique Busby, a fourth-year creative industries student at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), the charitable art exhibit brought together various emerging photographers to highlight concert and festival photography in the city.
“Concert photographers don’t get as much props as they should. You don’t really think about the photographer and their perspective,” Busby said. She said sometimes, people see a photo of the artist and don’t think about the photographer behind it. “I wanted to create a space for that because the music industry in Toronto is so beautiful and vibrant.”
The exhibit showcased a lively variety of photographs accompanied by a video installation edited by artist Grace Munene. Media Pass highlighted the powerful sense of community that exists for artists working in Toronto’s creative scene. Artists and visitors both expressed appreciation for the intimacy that is present within concerts—something that the team behind Media Pass believed deserved to be highlighted.
“Concert photographers don’t get as much props as they should”
“There are thousands of people there and we’re seeing the same thing. But we’re having vastly different experiences all together,” said featured photographer Taija Grey. “Concert photography is a beautiful way to amplify how we’re all connected yet living in vastly different realities.”
Alicia Reid, another featured photographer who graduated from TMU’s journalism program in 2022, shared a similar sentiment.
“You’re in a room full of a bunch of people that you can relate to,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful feeling. To be able to document it all together, to document the feeling [and] to document history being made is so important.”
TMU students, photographers, artists and their friends and family filled the space from noon to 10:30 p.m. Each attendee was also provided a ‘media pass’ lanyard to emulate the experience of being a concert photographer. Viewers admired the displayed photos and video installation paired with music from DJs Sekii and Child Noir.
“Having all these photographers capture moments that are snapshots in time and what the artist is feeling is something super special,” said Kianna Sumitani, another artist whose work was featured at the exhibit.
Sumitani, who is a third-year creative industries student, said to her, creating impactful photography means to make her work “as timeless as possible.”
This sentiment was echoed by other artists in the exhibit, such as Jet Bailey. “What I aim to do is just preserve cultural history,” said Bailey. “My overall goal isn’t to be rich or famous. I would rather, a hundred years down the line, just be in museums or history books.”
“I would rather, a hundred years down the line, just be in museums or history books”
For photographer Jershotyou* on Instagram, preserving history through photography is important because his old work still gets circulated to this day.
He said some of his photographs from three years ago are still being reposted today on artist fanpages. “I preserved that part of the culture, where I’m still getting posted and people still care enough to look at it. It’s really remarkable.”
Media Pass presented an inclusive and accessible space for viewers to reflect on the importance of documenting concert culture. The exhibit also provided an opportunity for emerging artists to network and connect with other creatives.
Throughout the course of the day, different creatives visited the Manifesto office, connecting with the volunteers, featured artists and collaborators behind the event. A strong sense of community was present in the space, allowing for a welcoming experience for viewers.
Media Pass featured Toronto-based artists Alicia Reid, Anushay Sheikh, Connor Tadao, Evie Maynes, Jet Bailey, Taija Grey, Jershotyou, Kianna Sumitani and woes.jpg*.
The exhibit was sponsored by Manifesto Community Projects, Posterjack and the TMU Student Initiatives Fund and Black Initiatives Fund. It was developed with production support from Sarah Itamah, Nkwachukwu Nwalozie and Malaika Lorde.
Proceeds from artwork that was sold at the exhibit will go toward the UNITY Charity, a Canadian charity focused on improving the wellbeing of underserved youth through hip-hop art forms.
*These artists only use their photography names online and did not provide The Eyeopener with their legal name.