Friday, April 16, 2010

Prize-a-mania: Brian Jungen & Sobey Longlist

It seems sometimes like fall has become art awards season in Canada. It's when the $70,000 Sobey for under-40 artists gets announced, as well as BMO 1st Art for students and the RBC Canadian Painting Competition.

But prize season starts early in a lot of ways. Yesterday the AGO announced Brian Jungen as the winner of the $25,000 Gershon Iskowitz Prize. (Best part of this news, so far--besides Jungen obviously deserving recognition--is that the artist will be giving a lecture at the AGO May 6 at 7pm. I just hope that the exhibition promised to Jungen on this award does better than the Francoise Sullivan prize show that irked me so earlier this year.)

The Sobey prize longlist also came out this week. It is:

West Coast and Yukon
Mark Soo
Kevin Schmidt
Isabelle Pauwels
Jeremy Shaw
Brendan Lee Satish Tang

Praries and the North
Daniel Barrow
Wally Dion
Heather Benning
The Cedar Tavern Singers
Robyn Moody

Diane Borsato
Aleesa Cohene
Brendan Fernandes
Will Munro
Jon Sasaki

Pascal Grandmaison
Patrick Bernatchez
Adad Hannah
Karen Tam

Lucie Chan
Graeme Patterson
Mario Doucette
Vanessa Paschakarnis
Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby

The shortlist will be announced June 15, with the final winner announced November 18 in Montreal.

I think one thing that comes up about the Sobey, now that it's a few years old, is how many times we see nominee names repeated on this annual longlist. Daniel Barrow, Graham Patterson, Mark Soo, Kevin Schmidt, BGL, Adad Hannah, Mario Doucette, and others are repeat nominees. And for me that begs the question, a bit, of how static the Canadian art scene is. Alternatively, repeat appearances as a nominee would seem to indicate consistently high production -- but perhaps also, frustration?

Some absences are also notable. Shary Boyle, favoured by many for last year, is not on the longlist, nor is Luanne Martineau, who was on last year's shortlist and does produce very good work, I think.

In any case, if you have favourites for this year's Sobey, feel free to post. I'm interested in Barrow (a longtime crowd favourite), but also Borsato, Tang and (other longtime favouriets) BGL.

Image of Brian Jungen's Carapace from - the National Museum of the American Indian has a great site running right now in association with their wider Jungen exhibition, which runs to August 8


Anonymous said...

Leah, I hope you will take a stand and boycott the RBC painting competition because of RBC being one of the largest funders of the Alberta Tar Sands.

It sucks to have to boycott art competitions but what they are doing in disgusting and supporting this painting competition is endorsing those practices.

Philip Monk said...

It's a bit of a contradiction to complain about repeat nominees for the Sobey Award and then to complain about the absence of Shary Boyle on the current list, a previous two-time nominee. As the Ontario juror, I made a decision not to include anyone who had been nominated before in order to open up the field, otherwise Shary Boyle might very well have been on my list.

Anonymous said...

I think your observation that the Canadian art scene is static (via the repeat nominations for Sobey) only reveals how stagnant your view of canadian art is. Look outside the box girl and outside of the in-crowd, and you will find a lot of amazing art here in Canada, outsiders who seem never to be on your radar. Personally I think Ontario's list is stellar and your criticism not so much.

Leah Sandals said...

Hi all,

Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous 1, I appreciate your political
commitment. But what exactly do you mean
in terms of a boycott? It's hard for media
to boycott covering an event, which is
my primary engagement with these and other
prizes. Is there is a boycott taking place
on the part of artists and jurors? Please
post more details if possible.

Philip, I'm glad you took action to open
up the nominees list for the Sobey. I don't
have a huge problem with certain artists
being "missing" from the Ontario
nominees. I was just trying to reflect
on the fact that the process of nominee
selection is somewhat opaque to onlookers.
when these kinds of lists come out,
Many people do wonder, Why is x there
but not y? The fact that many take this list
as an (I'll admit needed) indication of the
major Canadian artists of the day of course
ups the stakes around these decisions even
further. Would you suggest that the
nominee list be "non-repeats" every year?
That would certainly generate a quite
Different picture of what's happening.

Anonymous 2, I'll happily admit I ain't the
most with it gal in the world. And as I've pointed
out on this blog in the past, being
in Toronto does generate a very rehrettable
and unfair kind of media myopia. Yet I
do think I mentioned artists in this post
who are not Ontario based. Is there a
particular oversight you'd like to bring to my
attention and that of readers?

Leah Sandals said...

A note: I'm posting comments this AM
from my phone... so there's probably a
few more typos in there than usual!

Philip Monk said...

Leah, I make up rules for myself not for others, so I would not advocate for non-repeats only in the Sobey award--and I myself would act differently another time.

Leah Sandals said...

Hi Philip,

Thanks for clarifying. I was just wondering because demanding "non-repeats" each year would certainly generate a different picture for all the folks out there, and perhaps push curators to reach further. At the same time, I would say that there's not enough artistic production in Canada (not enough population, period) to get a totally new longlist of 25 each year. (Even globally, Cream only picks 100 every 2 or 3 years, right?)

Anyway, I also appreciate you clarifying your strategy for this year's Ontario nominees, because, like I said, I bet other people were wondering why some familiar and still prominent names didn't show up there.

As a point of curiosity, why wouldn't you do the same thing again? Have you had any other strange responses?

L.M. said...

An obvious reason for repeats is the age cut-off for the award, time is running out for some artists. (They'll be over 40 and of no use to anyone soon.) Personally, I think Daniel Barrow, BGL and Shary Boyle should be nominated until they get the damn thing.