Liam Maloney – MPM 2015

presented by Joan Fontcuberta – Guest Curator – Le Mois de la photo à Montréal

Liam Maloney was born in Montreal in 1975; he lives and works in Toronto. He was shortlisted for the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize in 2014 and for the Lindalee Tracey Award in 2010, and he won a gold medal at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards in 2011. His installation Texting Syria (2014) was exhibited at the Images – Festival des Arts Visuels de Vevey (2014), the Photoville in Brooklyn (2014), and at the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Festival in Toronto (2014). This work was nominated for Picture Story of the Year 2014 by the News Photographers Association of Canada. As a documentary photographer and videographer, he has spent recent years documenting refugee life in the Middle East and East Africa. His works have appeared in The Guardian, the National Post, Vice, and Mother Jones, on Discovery Channel, Global, and CBC, and in the White Ribbon Campaign. He is represented by Polaris Images.

In contemporary conflicts, there is no epic without iPhones and Samsungs. Talking, taking pictures, and communication via smartphones have given rise to new social forms of grassroots participation and political activism, such as the Arab Spring mobilizations and the Ushahidi (“testimony” or “witness” in Swahili) platform, by making it possible to map out vital information in areas experiencing disasters or conflicts. Liam Maloney has set out to highlight a more personal, heartbreaking side of the story by pointing his lens at people who are trying to keep in touch with loved ones from whom they have been separated by war. “In Lebanon, thirty minutes south of the Syrian border, sixteen refugee families live in tents erected within a disused slaughterhouse,” recounts the artist. “At night, they get on their mobile phones and text home, hoping for news from friends and relatives still trapped along the front lines of the civil war. I photographed them in the dark, their faces lit only by the glow of the screens. With the squalor of their surroundings mercifully cloaked in darkness, they could be us, outside a club, checking our messages – but their communiqués are matters of life and death. Texting Syria (2014) is an installation exploring not only the struggles and strengths of Syrian refugees, but also the multi-faceted nature of connectivity in the digital age.” To complement this photographic installation, viewers can also receive on their smartphones parts of messages exchanged between refugees in Lebanon.


Over almost four decades of prolific dedication to photography, Joan Fontcuberta (born in Barcelona in 1955) has developed an artistic and theoretical practice, which focuses on the conflicts between nature, technology and truth. He has written a dozen books about aspects of the history, aesthetics and epistemology of photography. He has curated international exhibitions, including Fotografia 2.0 (Círculo de Bellas Artes, PhotoEspaña, Madrid, 2014), Artwork as Collection (FotoColectania, Barcelona, 2013), From Here On (Les Rencontres d’Arles, 2011), Idas & Chaos. Trends in Spanish Photography 1920-1945 (International Center of Photography, New York, 1987). In 1982, he co-founded the biennial photography festival Primavera Fotográfica in Barcelona, and in 1996 he was appointed artistic director of the Arles Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie. Since 2008, he has been president of the Visual Artists Association in Catalonia. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Chicago Art Institute, among others, and his works are featured in a number of institutional collections, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the Centre Georges- Pompidou in Paris. In 2013, he received the Hasselblad Foundation Award.