Four international artists have been shortlisted for the 2016 AIMIA Art Gallery of Ontario Photography Prize: Elizabeth Zvonar, Talia Chetrit, Jimmy Robert and Ursula Schulz-Dornburg.
The prize, which is Canada’s most significant photography award, was initially launched in 2007 by Aeroplan and the AGO.
This year, 14 international nominators compiled a list of 23 artists, which was narrowed down by a committee of three experts to the final four. The overall winner, who will be determined by a public vote, will be presented with $50,000.
While the four photographers come from four different countries, their work all “addresses similar concerns in regards to the representation of the body,” according to Adelina Vlas, curator of the exhibit and the AGO’s associate curator of contemporary art.
“What’s exciting and different this year is that it seems to be quite a cohesive group.… Although they’re different in their approach and use of material, they seem to engage with similar themes and they address the body critically,” Vlas said. “And we have two artists using their own bodies, and two other artists also using very traditional ways of working with photography.”
Courtesy of the artist
The sole Canadian finalist, Zvonar, who is based in Vancouver, produces her photographs using collage and sculpture. She uses fashion magazines, art history and science textbooks throughout her collages, which are then scanned to create photographs that still maintain the rips and cuts of the original piece.
“I’m interested in playing with art history and mixing it up a little bit as a contemporary artist and as a female – having a hand in mixing up the way history is seen,” she said.
Joerg Lohse/Courtesy of the artist
Zvonar is joined on the shortlist by Chetrit, who currently lives in New York. Her work, which normally focuses on the human body and even self-portraiture, has been featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Sculpture Center in New York, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Studio Voltaire in London, and LACMA in Los Angeles. While Vlas says she “appears to be the most traditional in her work with a camera,” the curator believes she brings something “quite unique” to her photographs.
Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton, Berlin
The third member of the shortlist, Robert, was born in Guadeloupe and currently lives in Bucharest. His work spans a number of mediums including performance, photography, film, video and drawing. Because of this, his exhibited work is going to be “quite diverse,” according to Vlas, with both photographs being displayed along with sculptures and performance pieces. In some of his work he tears, collages, tapes and crumples photographs before scanning them, while in others he explores form by arranging photographs on a gallery floor.
Courtesy of the artist
The final member of the shortlist, Schulz-Dornburg, is originally from Berlin and now lives in Dusseldorf. Her work, which has been showcased at the Tate Modern in London and Giorgio Mastinu Gallery in Venice, often deals with architectural structures and the people who navigate in or around them. She photographs in “almost a documentary way, looking at particular subjects,” according to Vlas. She has travelled to the far corners of the earth to photograph both the structures and the people from Kurchatov, Kazakhstan to Kronstadt, Russia to Iraq and Syria.
The four finalists’ work will be showcased by the AGO beginning on Sept. 7. Voting also begins in person on Sept. 7 and starts online on Sept. 14.