Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Blog

Voting is Open for The Grange Prize 2010!

Starting today, you can cast your vote to decide who wins The Grange Prize 2010, honouring the best in international contemporary photography? Who will you choose? Josh Brand, Moyra Davey, Leslie Hewitt, or Kristan Horton? Visit to view galleries of their work, watch artist videos, and vote for your favourite. The winner takes home $50,000 on November 3!

From left to right: (1) Moyra Davey (Canadian), Copperhead #77, 1990, chromogenic print, 51 x 61cm. Courtesy of the artist and Murray Guy, New York. © 2010 Moyra Davey (2) Kristan Horton, Canadian, Orbit: Dark Center, 2009, chromogenic print, 134.6 x 101.6 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto. ©2010 Kristan Horton (3) Josh Brand, American, Untitled, 2009, chromogenicprint, 24.4 x 20.3 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Herald St. London, UK. © 2010 Josh Brand (4) Leslie Hewitt, American, Riffs on Real Time (10 of 10), 2008, chromogenic print, 101.6 x 76.2 cm. Courtesy of the artist and D’Amelio Terras, New York. © 2010 Leslie Hewitt

  • Rachel Harrison

    As much as I applaud the AGO’s interest in financially assist an artists, i am very concerned about this contest. I am deeply disturbed that you are giving a prize based on an artist’s ability to gather online votes. Besides the fact that you are asking an anonymous public to judge work they may know nothing about, you are setting up a popularity contest based on social networking, which has nothing to do with the quality of the art being judged. Is it the role of an artist to send out self-promoting mass emails? Do you want an artist to be rewarded simply because he or she has a big emailing list? Are you so cynical about the merits of art that your museum is publicly aligning itself with the crassness of American Idol? Have you considered firing all your curators? why bother, after all, to pay people who devote their life to studying and learning about art– just have people who like to spend their time voting online who might know nothing about art make all the decisions! Have you considered that not all artists are social, that there might be a person who makes art because he or she was not the most popular kid in their high school or currently has the most facebook friends? Did you know there are actually artists who choose not to use email and (significantly many) more who are not on facebook? Do you believe online culture is a true reflection of an art audience? As an artist who has work in your most esteemed collection I am disturbed by the direction of the AGO to award a prize this large judged solely by online voting.

    Rachel Harrison

  • Art Gallery of Ontario

    Hi Rachel,

    Many thanks for your comments. I wanted to clarify a few things.

    The Grange Prize isn’t a contest, it’s an art prize designed to focus on the best in contemporary international photography. The nominating jury is an essential part of that process – they’re experts in the field, ensuring that the shortlist includes not only artists whose work is well known or accessible to the public. The public then examines the field and chooses the winner, hopefully having discussions and learning about contemporary photography along the way. All the artists nominated will receive a cash award, and all benefit from residencies and exhibitions.

    The notion of expertise, particularly in the internet age, is a fraught one and institutions like the AGO need to remain open to new ways of engaging their audiences. We have designed a prize that we feel invites audience input but from a firm base of expertise.

    Sophie Hackett
    Assistant Curator, Photography and selection committee member, Grange Prize 2010

  • Amy Sillman

    Dea Sophie Hackett, with all due respect to your good intentions, I totally agree with Rachel Harrison. This sure sounds like a contest, even the part about “everyone is a winner.” I got several emails today urging me to vote for someone or other….I wasnt urged to “examine the field”….. So: is this based on numbers of votes, or not? If votes count then it’s a contest! if not, why did I get emails exhorting me to vote?
    Also sincerely yours,
    Amy Sillman

  • Art Gallery of Ontario

    Hi Amy,

    The winner of the prize is indeed determined by public vote—so the votes certainly do count.

    But clicking a button on the web site is just a small part of the voting process the AGO and our partners offer to the public. Many voters spend time on the website looking at the nominees’ work and their interviews about about how that work was created. Many also attend one of the Grange Prize exhibitions in Toronto or Chicago.

    Of course, considering all the artists’ work — thinking about it, talking about it, changing one’s mind about it — is not compulsory. Some people will simply click a button, just as some people wander through an art gallery chatting with friends and not looking closely at the art the curators have installed. But through this public voting process, the AGO and Aeroplan invite people to develop and express an opinion about a selection of contemporary photography that we believe deserves public attention. Past years have shown us that thousands of people accept this invitation eagerly.

    The Grange Prize is just one part of a diverse range of programming at the AGO, and the public vote is just one way in which we invite people to engage with this work. If the voting process sparks conversations and responses that might not otherwise have happened, then the prize is doing its job.


  • GL

    Rachel Harrison is right!

  • Peter Calamai

    Sophie Hackett
    If engaging the public is a key part of the process, then the paucity of comments on this site indicates that the Grange has a way to go yet. In my view, after four decades in and around photography, the absence of people in the displayed photos could be one reason that so few have connected.
    Peter Calamai, Ottawa