Now in its second year, the Scotiabank Photography Award announced its three finalists last week in Toronto: senior artists Fred Herzog (Vancouver), Arnaud Maggs (Toronto) and Alain Paiement (Montreal). The nation’s largest peer-reviewed prize in the medium consists of a $50,000 award as well as an exhibition and monograph affiliated with the following year’s CONTACT Photography Festival, held annually in Toronto and one of the biggest of its kind in the world. (Last year’s winner of the inaugural Scotiabank Photography Award, Lynne Cohen, shows at the festival this coming May.)
Each of this year’s 3 finalists was shortlisted from a list of 12 nominees put forward by a panel of the country’s leading photographic experts, ranging from gallery directors to curators, critics and others. The 2012 jury deciding both the finalists and the ultimate winner consists of William A. Ewing, director of curatorial projects, Thames & Hudson; Karen Love, manager of grants and publications, Vancouver Art Gallery; and Ann Thomas, curator of photography, National Gallery of Canada.
Fred Herzog was nominated by professor, curator and writer Robert Enright. Herzog, who documented Vancouver street life in bold colour throughout the 1950s and 1960s, toiled in relative obscurity until his recent anointing by the nation’s art establishment, including a recent show at Ottawa’s National Gallery. Says Enright of Herzog, “he has ended up being [Vancouver’s] most compelling visual narrator, telling the story of the place, the culture and the people who live there.”
Like Herzog, Arnaud Maggs—whose nominator was Doina Popescu, director of the soon-to-be-opened Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto—also got late recognition as a fine artist, having begun his career as a graphic designer and fashion photographer. Maggs, who currently has a show at Toronto’s Susan Hobbs Gallery, is known for his practice of categorizing and documenting things and people, often in large-scale grids—creating, in the words of Popescu, “a poignant portrait of life’s traces.”
Alain Paiement was championed by independent curator Anne-Marie Ninacs, who guest curated Montreal’s Mois de la Photo last fall. Paiement’s well-known current work consists of meticulously constructed, large-format overhead views of a variety of spaces, from the domestic to the bureaucratic, while his earlier production focused on photo-sculptures. Well respected internationally, Paiement was the first Quebec artist to show at New York’s Whitney Museum; Ninacs calls him a “key figure in contemporary Canadian photography.”
The Scotiabank Photography Award was developed by renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky and Jane Nokes, director of the fine art collection and corporate archives at Scotiabank, who is also the executive director of the award.
The winner of the 2012 prize will be announced on May 9.