Jason Lazarus’s “Too Hard to Keep” at Gallery TPW

by | Jul 3, 2013 | Curatorial, Photography | 0 comments

One of the last projects that’s part of my curatorial residency at Gallery TPW’s R&D space opens this Friday, with a presentation of Jason Lazarus’s Too Hard to Keep project. There are some surprising, beautiful, strange photographs among the 3,000 images that people have donated to the artist so far, and a few hundred will be on display at TPW over the next month. Working with Jason to install the show, and watching people on the sidewalk stop to read his poster calling for more submissions and pop in to see what’s happening, has been a nice way to wrap up a year of programming that started with me working in the gallery and wondering how to do research in public. Too Hard to Keep is a nice use of R&D’s renovated storefront space–turned–research centre that strikes a balance between maximizing the connotations of retail display created by the building’s front window and being open to experimenting with images in public.

Jason Lazarus
T.H.T.K. (Toronto)
July 5 – August 10, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 7 – 9 pm
Public Discussion with the artist: Saturday, July 6, 2 pm


Gallery TPW is pleased to present Too Hard to Keep, a site-specific installation by Chicago artist Jason Lazarus, drawn from a growing archive of photographs donated by owners who find them too painful to live with any longer. Initiated in 2010, Too Hard to Keep (T.H.T.K.) is a repository for photographs, photo-objects and digital files that are too difficult for their owners to hold onto, but which are too meaningful to destroy. Bringing together a wide range of anonymous images−including portraiture, landscape and still life−the archive also includes “private” photographs: photographs donated by participants with the stipulation that they are not exhibited publicly, and are instead shown face-down, obscuring the image. Through Lazarus’s installation, which presents a selection of images from the main archive as well as submissions from local donors, the T.H.T.K. archive raises questions that have been the focus of conversations about photography and difficult knowledge at Gallery TPW over the past few years; questions about what we want from photographs, how we understand images that are separated from their producers’ narratives, and why we continue to feel affective attachments to photographs as objects.


T.H.T.K. is part of “Coming to Encounter,” a yearlong series of discursive events and programs at Gallery TPW R&D that experiments with different strategies for looking at difficult images organized by curator in residence Gabrielle Moser.


Interested in submitting to the T.H.T.K. archive?


Donate your photograph to Jason Lazarus at Gallery TPW (1256 Dundas St. West) between July 2 and July 5, 2013, or drop off your print anonymously in the gallery’s drop box during the length of the exhibition. You can also donate photographs directly to the archive by following the instructions at toohardtokeep.blogspot.com


Jason Lazarus and Sara Matthews in Conversation

Public Discussion with the artist
Saturday, July 6, 2 pm

Join writer and scholar Sara Matthews in a public conversation with Jason Lazarus about how we find meaning in images that already exist, what we want from images and what images want from us in return. Using Wanting Images, Matthews’s series of blog posts for TPW R&D Online as a jumping-off point, the conversation will explore the relationship between photography, pedagogy and desire.