Fi­nal­ists for Canada’s Biggest Photo Prize Of­fer New Vi­sions of the World

Canadian Art - - Generously Supported By Rbc -

Daz­zling rain­bow colours ab­stracted from close-up pho­to­graphs. A glam­orously posed woman jux­ta­posed with the ques­tion, “AF­TER IDEN­TITY, WHAT?” In­ti­mate, can­did im­ages doc­u­ment­ing the African di­as­pora. Found videos on an iphone trans­formed with oth­er­worldly glitches by a flatbed scan­ner. Th­ese are a few of the bod­ies of work high­lighted in the 2017 Aimia | AGO Pho­tog­ra­phy Prize, Canada’s largest pho­tog­ra­phy award, which is co-pre­sented by the data-driven mar­ket­ing and loy­alty an­a­lyt­ics com­pany Aimia and the Art Gallery of On­tario (AGO).

Now cel­e­brat­ing its 10th year, the prize awards $50,000 to the win­ner, who is se­lected by pub­lic vote. View­ers will have a tough time mak­ing a se­lec­tion this year: the four fi­nal­ists are ex­cep­tion­ally strong.

Each of the 2017 fi­nal­ists hails from a dif­fer­ent coun­try. Liz John­son Ar­tur (Ghana/rus­sia), Ray­mond Boisjoly (Haida Na­tion/canada), Hank Willis Thomas (USA) and Taisuke Koyama (Ja­pan) were se­lected from a longlist of 30 in­ter­na­tional nom­i­nees by a jury of three ex­perts. The jury con­sisted of artist Ken Lum and cu­ra­tors So­phie Hack­ett and Eva Re­spini.

There is lit­tle in com­mon, at first glance, in the works of each of the four artists. But close ex­am­i­na­tion of their prac­tices re­veals that they all care­fully up­end and de­con­struct ex­pected nar­ra­tives about their worlds.

Take the Un­branded se­ries by Thomas, which uses archival ad­ver­tis­ing ma­te­ri­als, but al­ters them so that the com­pany’s lo­gos and ac­tual prod­ucts are erased, of­fer­ing a clever skew­er­ing of con­sumer cul­ture, par­tic­u­larly as it in­ter­sects with race. Or look to Koyama’s colour­ful im­ages; they may ap­pear en­tirely ab­stract, but their source ma­te­rial is of­ten lifted from the shift­ing ur­ban land­scape of Tokyo. Within Ar­tur’s oeu­vre, a nu­anced, di­verse de­pic­tion of Black­ness mounts a coun­ter­point to the fre­quently prob­lem­atic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Black­ness through­out the his­tory of the medium. In the work of Boisjoly, an artist of Haida and Que­be­cois de­scent, colo­nial nar­ra­tives and his­tor­i­cal cer­tainty are com­pli­cated; nowhere is this clearer than his From age to age, as its shape slowly un­rav­elled… se­ries, which sub­verts found source ma­te­rial that high­lights muse­o­log­i­cal ap­proaches to non­west­ern ob­jects, which are of­ten sev­ered from their con­text in in­sti­tu­tions.

Vis­i­tors to the AGO can see work by each of the fi­nal­ists in an ex­hi­bi­tion cu­rated by Hack­ett. The ex­hi­bi­tion is open from Septem­ber 6, 2017 to Jan­uary 14, 2018. Vot­ing be­gins in per­son at the AGO af­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion opens and on the Prize's web­site be­gin­ning on Septem­ber 13, 2017. The win­ner will be an­nounced on De­cem­ber 4, 2017.


3 Ray­mond Boisjoly Sta­tion to Sta­tion (de­tail, 1 of 5 prints) 2014 Five-screen res­o­lu­tion Light­jet prints mounted on di­bond Each 45.75 x 61 cm


2 Taisuke Koyama Un­ti­tled (Rain­bow Form 02) (from the se­ries Rain­bow Form, part of Rain­bow Vari­a­tions) 2009 Archival pig­ment print 90 x 60 cm

4 Liz John­son Ar­tur Un­ti­tled (from the se­ries Black Bal­loon Archive) 1986–2010


1 Hank Willis Thomas Af­ter Iden­tity, What? 2012 Alu­minum let­ters on wood and ink-jet print 2.03 x 1.07 m

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