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Installation view of Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture, an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Feb. 25 to June 3, 2012: Duane Linklater, Tautology.

Rachel Topham/Vancouver Art Gallery

Twenty-five artists from across the country have made the long list for the 11th annual Sobey Art Award, its first prize of $50,000 one of the richest for a contemporary Canadian artist. Announcement of the list – which divides the 25 into groups of five according to region – was made Friday in Halifax by the Sobey Art Foundation and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Since its creation in 2002, the Sobey has been awarded each year to an artist 40 years of age or younger who has exhibited in a commercial or public gallery within 18 months of the March 1 nomination deadline. It's generally regarded as the most significant and influential honour awarded to a younger Canadian artist. Previous winners include Brian Jungen (2002), Annie Pootoogook (2006), Michel de Broin (2007) and David Altmejd (2009).

This year's long list was determined by a five-member curatorial panel that, in turn, will select a short list of five by the end of June. The winner is to be named Oct. 9 at a gala in Halifax, with four runners-up each receiving $5,000.

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At least five of this year's nominees were included in Oh, Canada, the largest exhibition of Canadian contemporary art ever held in North America, a 10-month showcase recently completed at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The five potential Sobey finalists are Amalie Atkins (prairies and the North region), Brendan Fernandes (Ontario), David R. Harper (Ontario) Divya Mehra (prairies/the North) and Hans Wendt (Atlantic).

Other nominees by region:

West Coast and the Yukon – Sonny Assu (interdisciplinary), Cedric Bomford (installation, photography), Isabelle Pauwels (video), Mark Soo (installation, video) and Brendan Tang (ceramics).

Prairies and the North – Atkins (photography, video, installation), Mark Clintberg (drawing, text, photography), Brenda Draney (painting), Simon Hughes (paper works) and Mehra (multidisciplinary).

Ontario – Diane Borsato (performance, video, installation), Fernandes (text, neon, video, performance), Harper (installation, embroidery), Kristiina Lahde (repurposed objects) and Duane Linklater (video, film).

Quebec – Anthony Burnham (painting), Jacynthe Carrier (photography, video), Peter Flemming ("folk machinery artist"), Pascal Grandmaison (photo- and video-based art) and Nadia Myre (multidisciplinary).

Atlantic – Tamara Henderson (film, sculpture), Stephen Kelly (audio), Lisa Lipton (sculpture, video, paint, music), Michael Pittman (constructions, painting) and Wendt (works on paper).

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