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Hank Willis Thomas wins Aimia/AGO Photography Prize for 2017

visual art

Hank Willis Thomas wins Aimia/AGO Photography Prize

Hank Willis Thomas is a New York-based conceptual artist.

The New York-based conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas is the winner of the $50,000 Aimia/AGO Photography Prize for 2017.

Thomas, 41, received the international honour Monday evening at a ceremony at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. He prevailed over three other finalists, including Raymond Boisjoly, an artist of Haida descent based in Vancouver.

Honouring excellence in contemporary photography and photo-based art, the prize is unique because the winning artist is chosen by a public vote, both online or at the AGO, where the work of all four short-listed nominees can be seen until Jan. 14, 2018.

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Thomas's satirical and often on-the-nose work is a commentary on commodity, sports, popular culture and the construction of identity. With an image of an African-American man shackled to a basketball, he makes a statement about sports as indentured servitude. A series featuring a man in top hat and tails painted half-white and half-black is both a metaphor of perspective and a reference to cultural hybridity.

Hank Willis Thomas – Crossroads, 2012

Hank Willis Thomas – Basketball and Chain, 2003, Lambda photograph

Hank Willis Thomas – With All Deliberate Speed (with flash), 2015, screenprint on retroreflective

Hank Willis Thomas – Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Us Around, 2016, glass, silver and digital print

Hank Willis Thomas – Branded Head, 2003, Lambda photograph

Hank Willis Thomas – The Cotton Bowl, 2011, digital c-print

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