Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Ritual: Good Friday in Toronto’s Italian Immigrant Community 1969-2015

Ritual: Good Friday in Toronto’s Italian Immigrant Community 1969-2015 is a book of 100 photographs and texts, as well as an accompanying exhibition, that document the Good Friday procession—an elaborate event that takes place annually in the streets of the historic Italian community in Toronto. Consisting of multiple re-enactments with amateur actors and statues of Biblical tableaux that depict the “Via Crucis,” or the Way of the Cross, the event commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ, one of the most fundamental rituals of Christianity. Tens of thousands of people attend each year to walk in reverence or to stand on the sidelines as observers. The atmosphere is decidedly not festive but funereal, as worshippers sing mournful hymns to the plaintive sounds of dirges performed by brass bands. Year after year, there is a photographer drifting among the crowds, interacting with the participants, renewing contacts and documenting assiduously, a modern-day character in the cast of street actors in historical attire. That photographer is Vincenzo Pietropaolo. He has been photographing the event almost every year since 1969 and, in the process, the annual pilgrimage with his camera has become his own personal ritual as a documentary photo artist.


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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. He has exhibited internationally, his work is included in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, and he is currently featured 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.”


Ryerson Artspace
1214 Queen Street West

June 4th–June 28th
Thu–Fri: 1:00–6:00 pm
Sat–Sun: 12:00–5:00 pm

Opening Reception:
June 6th, 2:00–5:00 p.m.

Artist Talk:
June 13th, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

• Photography, Photobook