In a pair of clever new exhibitions, the Ryerson Image Centre documents how photography has shaped Western conceptions of glamour—and how photography can just as effectively tear those notions down. Burn With Desire: Photography and Glamour and Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women, both opening on Jan. 21 at the RIC, depict polar approaches to the representation of women in photography. Through portraits of Marilyn Monroe, archival Vanity Fair covers and projects by Andy Warhol, Burn With Desire explores how the medium—with its pre-Photoshop attention to immaculate lighting and gauzy romanticism—equated glamour with aesthetic perfection and vulnerable seduction. Anti-Glamour, meanwhile, playfully upends everything its counterpart professes, featuring contemporary pictures that affront viewers with the stark, sometimes ugly reality of gun-wielding femme fatales and brazen bare-breasted figures. The result is a jarring juxtaposition that gives new meaning to iconic images we thought we’d figured out long ago.
Jan. 21–Apr. 5. Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164, ryerson.ca.