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The Aimia/AGO Photography Prize has become a pretty big deal in a pretty short time, just six years, in fact. It’s unique, too, in the annals of art awards in that its winner is chosen by public vote.
The short list of nominees for the annual prize was announced this week in Toronto and on Sept. 11 the Art Gallery of Ontario begins a nearly four-month exhibition of representative works by the four finalists, each of whom is vying for a top cash prize of $50,000. Previously the prize, honouring achievements in contemporary photography, was known as the Grange Prize, after the early-19th-century manor house that was the AGO’s original home, while the four finalists consisted of two Canadian photographers and two from a “partner country.” (Previous partners have included China, the U.K., Mexico and India.)
For 2013, the partner framework was jettisoned and an eight-person international panel assembled a long list of 14 nominees from around the world. From this pool, a three-person jury, headed by Elizabeth Wilson, former director of curatorial affairs for the AGO, chose the final four, with the stipulation that one had to be Canadian. Online voting can be done at AimiaAGOPhotographyPrize.com and the Prize’s Facebook page. Ballots also can be cast at the exhibition itself.
The winner is to be named Nov. 7. Each runner-up receives $5,000
Editor's note: an earlier version of this gallery said the AGO's former director of curatorial affairs is Elizabeth Wilson, not Elizabeth Smith. This online version has been corrected
Erin Shirreff, Moon, video still, 2010, color video, silent, 32 minute loop Erin Shirreff, Moon series.
Born in 1975 in Kelowna; lives in Brooklyn “We have our own reality [where] we’re all sort of trapped within our own subjectivity. The idea of seeing other people as things outside of us, as images, our relationship to the world, how much we can access it – for me, the frame of the photograph is reminiscent of the vantage point that we all have on our life.”
Chino Otsuka, Summer, 2001, Chromogenic Print, 813mm x 1016mm
Born in 1972 in Tokyo; moved to U.K. – London is her current home – at age 10 “I’m not really Japanese or really English. I used to struggle a lot with that but now . . . it’s a vantage point [and] I quite like to show in-between places . . . The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.”
LaToya Ruby Frazier, Aunt Midgie and Grandma Ruby from the series Notion of Family, 2007, gelatin silver print, 50.8 cm x 60.96 cm.
Born in 1982 in Pittsburgh; lives in New Jersey and New York “My family has died off because of cancer and lupus . . . The only way for me to make a mark on history or to insert my family or community is through the tools and forms of the arts. I’m offering my viewers the opportunity to learn through three women’s bodies [that of Frazier herself, her mother and grandmother] another part of American history through the 20th and 21st centuries.”
Edgardo Aragón, You're Not Going to Die from the series Message/Warning, 2007 -2011, digital photograph, 63.5 cm x 91.44 cm.
Born in 1985 in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he lives now “One of the approaches that I used to be able to understand what was happening around me and around the country and around the world was to use art like a tool . . . The landscape is very important to me because it has given me the context and atmosphere and the logic of what I am trying to do in my work.”
(Courtesy of the artist and Proyectos Monclova.)