Together with our partners at Aimia, we were excited to announce the 2014 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize shortlist on Aug. 13. Below, learn about the four artists from around the world who were our jurors’ top picks, then head to the Prize website to see more of their work and choose your favourite.
“Our understanding of ourselves is deeply rooted in the spaces we occupy.”
David Hartt was born in Montreal and currently lives and works in Chicago. In his installations, which include photographs, videos, and sculptures, he explores how physical spaces reflect the ideas and beliefs of a particular time and place. By investigating the materials, symbols and histories that shape our surroundings, Hartt calls attention to the ways our built environments exist and evolve. After extensive research and site visits, he distils this material into complex and elegant installations.
On David’s work:
David Hartt by Aimee Walleston for Art in America
David Hartt: Stray Light at the Studio Museum in Harlem by Andrew Russeth for Gallerist
“The questions for me are about this very mysterious unit that is the picture. It brings on a set of assumptions and built-in ways of looking with which I am in constant battle.”
At the centre of Israel-born, Los Angeles-based artist Elad Lassry’s work is the question: “What is a picture?” His practice suggests that the photograph is an elusive “unit.” Lassry uses multiple aesthetic modes and technologies to create analog images, digital interventions, moving pictures, design applications and applied arts that seem utilitarian but produce complex visual sensations. His ongoing investigation leads him to refer back to and experiment with a variety of visual sources – textbooks, manuals, film stills, marketing materials and science texts – which at turns contradict and play off one another in his work. Lassry uses this dynamic to pinpoint what he calls a “contemporary condition” in which the photograph is a flexible entity, seductively powerful and yet untrustworthy. “Once the photograph is not what it appears to be,” Lassry asks, “what else is at stake?”
“I’m interested in uncovering that binary – that in-between space that you can’t always pinpoint or articulate.”
Nandipha Mntambo was born in Swaziland and lives in Johannesburg. She originally trained as a sculptor and then expanded her practice to include photography, performance, and video. Her work investigates such dualities as male and female, attraction and repulsion, animal and human, European and African. Mntambo makes sculptures from cowhide, using her own body to mould the forms. In many of her videos and photographs, she appears wearing her sculptures, suggesting our capacity as individuals to shape the world around us, while also highlighting the forces that form us, including notions of race, gender and history.
“I want the viewer to ask, ‘What am I looking at? How is it made?’ Somehow, that provides a way of critically reading how images come to all of us through our daily lives.”
Lisa Oppenheim, who lives and works in New York, creates photographs and videos that connect historical imagery and techniques with the present moment. Her process often begins with online research, to source images that she reinterprets using old and new technologies. Oppenheim also employs unusual materials as negatives – fabric, lace, slices of wood – directly recording the objects’ specific textures to create near-abstract compositions. Through her experiments with analog darkroom and digital methods, Oppenheim gives photographic images new forms and new contexts, inviting us to question and to wonder.