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Mexico's Cruz wins Grange Prize Add to ...

Mexico City-based photographer Marco Antonio Cruz, recently known for a series of richly detailed images of the blind, has won this year's $50,000 Grange Prize organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

With a style comparable to the documentary-meets-magic realism of the Brazilian born photographer Sebastiao Salgado, Cruz's series on the blind nevertheless remains intimate, capturing a split second of movement and insight.

As described by the prize's selection committee, Cruz's work not only "reveals the complexities of the time in Mexico," it also depicts "the boundaries of our understanding of human dignity."

Cruz was among three other finalists from Canada and Mexico: Montreal-based Lynne Cohen, Federico Gama of Mexico City and Jin-me Yoon of Vancouver. Each photographer participated in an exchange program allowing Canadians to work in Mexico and the Mexicans to work in Canada. Cruz, for instance, is visiting first-nations groups in Ontario.

After the finalists were named by a selection committee, the winner was decided by a vote by the public. This was conducted at the Grange Prize's site online ( www.thegrangeprize.com ), which includes portfolios of each artist's work, as well as public voting at the exhibitions of the artists at the AGO and the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City.

Cruz describes himself as heavily influenced by Mexican photographer Nacho Lopez, whose lively and often humorous street scenes are reminiscent of famed New York photographer Weegee. Cruz's series on the blind is more sober than Lopez's style. Yet, it adds an extra dimension to Cruz's work to know that early influence; it helps accentuate the hope and subtle joys in many of his images, even when other shots focus on despair and toil.

A showcase of the finalists' photographs will continue at the AGO in Toronto until June 26. Next year, the prize will partner with artists and photography experts in France.

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