Event: The Virtual Coffee Table: Photobooks in the Digital Age
Bio: Vincenzo Pietropaolo is a Toronto-based social documentary photographer whose lifelong mission is to document Canada's immigrant communities, working-class culture and social justice issues. He has distinguished himself as a photographic bookmaker, combining photographs with his own original writing. Active as a freelance photographer since the 1990s, Pietropaolo has published several books of photography, including Harvest Pilgrims: Mexican and Caribbean Migrant Farm Workers in Canada and Invisible No More: A Photographic Chronicle of People with Intellectual Disabilities. He has exhibited internationally, his work is included in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, and he is a featured artist in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. His artistry and social commitment have earned him critical recognition and he is respected for his empathetic approach. Geist magazine wrote that his work "is a brilliant example of photography at its most 'communicative': for Pietropaolo, the camera is a tool for touching the world."
Books: Invisible No More, The Ward, Coach House Books
Synopsis: Invisible No More is a moving photographic chronicle—a celebration-filled with more than one hundred dynamic images and thirty evocative, poetic stories of people with intellectual disabilities, those who may have been born with Down syndrome, autism, or who are "otherwise-abled."
The Ward : "The story of the growth and destruction of Toronto's first 'priority neighbourhood'." From the 1870s to the 1950s, waves of immigrants to Toronto—Irish, Jewish, Chinese and Italian, among others—landed in 'The Ward' in the centre of downtown. Deemed a slum, the area was crammed with derelict housing and 'ethnic' businesses; it was razed in the 1950s to make way for a grand civic plaza and modern city hall. Archival photos and contributions from a wide variety of voices finally tell the story of this complex neighbourhood and the lessons it offers about immigration and poverty in big cities. Contributors include historians, politicians, architects and descendents of Ward residents on subjects such as playgrounds, tuberculosis, bootlegging and Chinese laundries.