AGO News Release | Communique

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Two Canadians Vie for $50,000 Grange Prize

Voting ends October 30 at 11:59 pm; Winner announced at AGO 1st Thursdays on November 1

(TORONTO Oct. 22, 2012) On Nov. 1, 2012, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Aeroplan, an Aimia company, will announce the winner of The Grange Prize 2012, Canada’s only major art and culture prize whose winner is chosen entirely by public vote.

This year, the prestigious competition features photographers from Canada and the United Kingdom. The works of all four finalists explore the world of images that surround us every day.

The two Canadian finalists, Emmanuelle Léonard and Annie MacDonell, use various media to examine authority, beauty, and the art of looking, respectively.

Montréal native Emmanuelle Léonard is a graduate from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her photographs are expressions of social, cultural and political forces. Working in photography, video, film, animation and even newspaper format, Léonard engages with the conventions of documentary, press and forensic photography as well as video surveillance. In each new body of work, she questions such tenets as artistic and legal authority, the nature of evidence and perceptions of beauty. Her works tackle the persuasive nature of the photographic image, how it influences young minds, relays power and performs as unbiased evidence in our justice systems – provoking her viewers to ask who creates photographs, for whom and to what end.

Léonard has exhibited widely at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Kunsthaus Dresden and Neuer Berliner Kuntsverein in Germany, and Mercer Union in Toronto. In 2005, she was the recipient of the Pierre-Ayot Award, presented by the city of Montréal for excellence in visual arts.

Employing photography, film, sculpture, installation and other media, Annie MacDonell’s work begins from the position that in the 21st century, images are exhausted and their use must always be accompanied by a critical stance towards representation and presentation, production and reproduction. Her work draws attention to how still and moving images are staged in the spaces of gallery and cinema, thereby creating multi-layered, uncanny and formally elegant meditations on the act of looking.

MacDonell is based in Toronto and works with a variety of media. Moving between appropriation, re-animation and deconstruction, her practice includes photography, film, installation, sculpture and sound. She studied photography at Ryerson’s School of Image Arts, and received her MFA at Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains, in France. Her photos have been shown at the Art Gallery of Windsor, the AGO, The Power Plant and Le Grand Palais in Paris.

Léonard and MacDonell, along with Jason Evans and Jo Longhurst from the U.K. were selected by a nominating jury led by Sophie Hackett, assistant curator of photography at the AGO, and including Sara Knelman, a London, U.K.-based writer and curator; Charlotte Cotton, a prominent writer and curator; and U.K.-based artist duo Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin.

Online voting continues at http://www.thegrangeprize.com and is open until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2012. The winner will be announced on Nov. 1, 2012 at a public party at the AGO, part of AGO 1st Thursdays. Tickets to the event, which will be hosted by Stacey McKenzie includes a performance by DIANA and a DJ set by Austra’s Katie Stelmanis, can be purchased at http://www.ago.net/1st-thursdays-november-1-2012. The artists’ works will be on exhibition at the AGO and at Canada House in London, U.K. until Jan. 6, 2013.

Updates, blog posts and more information about The Grange Prize can be found at www.thegrangeprize.com.

Contemporary programming at the AGO is generously supported by The Canada Council for the Arts.

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