Busted: York’s Faculty of Fine Arts focuses on Arresting Images


TORONTO, November 14, 2011 − One hundred historic mug shots of ladies, gents and general ruffians of both genders, arrested for crimes ranging from pickpocketing and forgery to opium eating and murder, will inspire some lively critical discussion at York University. On November 29, the Faculty of Fine Arts presents Busted: The enduring allure of the mug shot, a panel discussion complementing the exhibition Arresting Images, on view at the Archives of Ontario atYork’s Keele Campus.

The Archives is hosting the only Toronto showing of the award-winning touring exhibit organized byOntarioProvincialPoliceMuseum. The snapshots, dating from 1886 to 1908, showcase some of the most interesting faces in the OPP’s historic collection. Each reproduction includes the case file information for the individual pictured. The show is rounded out by selected artifacts from theOPPMuseum's holdings.

Lillie Williams (alias Harrington), a housekeeper, was arrested on “suspicion” of an unidentified crime on August 11, 1901 (Courtesy of the OPP Museum)

Moderated by Stephen Bulger, president of Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery, the panel discussion Busted features York visual arts Professors Katherine Knight, Sarah Parsons and Carol Zemel. Drawing on the work of photographer, writer and critic Allen Sekula, and on what photographer Ariella Azoulay calls “the event of photography,” the panelists bring to the table their distinctive interests and ways of viewing these images  through the lens of an artist, theorist and historian of visual culture.

At stake are issues of power both then and now, the context of the pictures, their public and private features and their impact on the viewer. The direct gaze and singular purposefulness of the mug shots, their seeming neutrality, and the affective responses of the viewers all come into play. What makes these photos simultaneously fascinating and frightening, intimate and estranging?

Above: Lillie Williams (alias Harrington), a housekeeper, was arrested on “suspicion” of an unidentified crime on August 11, 1901. (Courtesy of the OPP Museum)

The Arresting Images exhibit opened October 22 and will be on display in the Archives of Ontario’s Helen McClung Gallery until December 9. Exhibit hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30am to 8pm on Tuesday and Thursday, and Saturday from 10am to 4pm. 

What:  “Busted: The enduring allure of the mug shot” – Panel discussion complementing the exhibition Arresting Images

When: Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2:30 – 4:30pm

Where: Archives of Ontario, York University Keele Campus, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd [map]

Admission: Free. RSVP to ffares@yorku.ca


Media Contact:
Amy Stewart, Communications, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University
416-650-8469 | amy.stewart@yorku.ca




The Stephen Bulger Gallery is an internationally renowned centre for fine art photography. Hosting approximately 10 exhibitions annually, the gallery also participates in international art fairs, maintains an inventory of some 15,000 photographs, and represents many leading photographers and important estates.

Stephen Bulger has curated more than 100 solo and group exhibitions of contemporary and historical photographs and has published numerous catalogues and books. He is the originator and co-founder of CONTACT,Toronto’s annual photography festival, the largest event of its kind in the world. Since 2008, he has served as president of the board of the Washington D.C.-based Association of International Photography Art Dealers. He is a member of the Canadian Cultural Property Review Board and the Art Dealers Association of Canada, and chairs the advisory board for the Ryerson Image Centre.

Katherine Knight is recognized nationally for her photographic projects which often incorporate text and archival material. The recipient of the Canada Council's Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography, she has exhibited extensively across North America and her work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs, Museum London and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Through her production company, Site Media Inc, Knight produces television documentaries on creative Canadians in extraordinary places. Her film credits include Annie Pootoogook; Kinngait: Riding Light into the World; Pretend Not to See Me, the Art of Colette Urban; and KOOP on artist Wanda Koop. She is currently developing films on the architecture of Todd Saunders and on Toronto artists Spring Hurlbut and Arnaud Maggs.

Sarah Parsons’ research and teaching span a wide range of studies in contemporary western art history, theory and museum practice, with an emphasis on photographic modes of representation. Her publications focus on modern visual culture, colonial art and pedagogy. As the recipient of a research fellowship in the Prints and Drawings Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, she researched the provenance of the drawing collection to ensure compliance with the Task Force Report on the Spoliation of Art during the Nazi/WWII era. Her current research explores the role of photography in constructing notions of public and private space.

Carol Zemel is an art historian whose areas of research and publication include 19th and 20th-century European art, the modern art market, feminism in the arts, Jewish visual culture and diaspora studies. An authority on the work of Vincent Van Gogh, her books include The Formation of a Legend - Van Gogh Criticism 1890-1920 and Van Gogh's Progress: Utopia and Modernity in Late Nineteenth-Century Art. She has published extensively in journals on art and art history and is a former co-editor of RACAR (Revue d'art canadienne/Canadian Art Review). She is a co-founder and co-director of Project Mosaica, a web-based exploration of Jewish cultural expression in the arts, and is currently completing a book titled Graven Images: Visual Culture and Modern Jewish History.