Jo Longhurst (foreground) preparing to shoot at Gemini Gymnastics, Oshawa, Ont.
Only a few days after learning she had won The Grange Prize 2012, Jo Longhurst began her six-week residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, occupying the Anne Lind Artist-in-Residence Studio in the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre. Over the three weeks since the winner announcement, Jo has been working to develop new ideas and create new works.
During her residency, Jo will build upon her series Other Spaces, which is an examination of the notion of perfection framed through the physical and emotional experiences of elite gymnasts. She has been working closely with Gemini Gymnastics in Oshawa, owned by Elena Davydova, the 1980 Olympic all-around gold medallist, representing the former Soviet Union, and one of the coaches of the Canadian Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team at the 2012 London Olympics. Jo’s new work will explore examples of the gender divide inherent in the world of gymnastics, such as particular moves that female gymnasts can’t use in competitions like Iron Cross on the rings. (Jo has photographed a female gymnast holding this pose.) She is developing two specific works with Davydova and the club’s elite squad.
Jo accepts The Grange Prize on Nov. 1, 2012.
Jo has been contemplating what direction her work might take beyond her residency: “I continue to revisit my archive of images from the World Championships and have begun to look at them from a more abstract perspective,” Jo says about her future work. “The new work will be visually different but follows the same line of inquiry into the ideas of perfection, photograph, and the ways in which we makes sense of our place in the universe.”
Jo says that her win was a complete surprise — but a gratifying one. “The win was touching because it was a public vote,” Jo says. “I want my work to be critical, yet accessible to everyone.” When it comes to photography, Jo admits that although her work is primarily lens-based, she feels that medium-specific categories can sometimes be frustrating, and she hopes that “the categorization doesn’t limit people’s exposure to art.”
In addition to the artist residency, Jo received a $50,000 cash prize. The three other finalists each received cash honorariums of $5,000 and international artist residencies. British artist Jason Evans will travel to Toronto next spring to begin his residency at the AGO, and Canadian artists Emmanuelle Léonard and Annie MacDonell will travel to the U.K. next year.
Read more about Jo’s work and see images of works from her Other Spaces series here. Her residency continues until December 14, 2012.
Jo will be in conversation with Sophie Hackett, assistant curator of photography at the AGO and lead juror of The Grange Prize 2012, at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2012, at the AGO, as part of the next installment of the AGO’s 1st Thursdays.
After 10 weeks of voting, we are excited to announce that the winner of The Grange Prize 2012 is British photographer Jo Longhurst! Born in Essex, U.K., Jo has gained international recognition for her work and exhibited in London, Paris and Berlin and at this year’s Documenta (13). A PhD graduate from the Royal College of Art, Jo’s work investigates ideas of physical perfection and self-creation, capturing the striking portraits of elite gymnasts and whippet show dogs in her two primary bodies of work, Other Spaces and The Refusal.
The Grange Prize is Canada’s largest photography prize and the only major Canadian art prize determined by public vote. A unique partnership between the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Aeroplan, the prize aims to engage the public in a vital discourse about the power and prevalence of photography in our world today through public exhibitions, voting and online dialogue.
Longhurst receives the $50,000 cash prize, while the other three finalists each receive a cash honorarium of $5,000 dedicated to the creation of new work. All four finalists will receive artist residencies: Longhurst begins her residency at the AGO on Nov. 4, 2012, and will occupy the Weston Family Learning Centre’s Artist-in-Residence Studio until Dec. 15, 2012; Jason Evans will be in residence at the AGO in spring 2013; and Emmanuelle Léonard and Annie MacDonell will travel to the U.K. for their residencies early next year.
An exterior view of Canada House, located on Trafalgar Square in London, U.K. It is hosting an exhibition of the four shortlisted Grange Prize 2012 photographers until January 2013. Photo by Sean O’Neill/Art Gallery of Ontario.
Inside The Grange Prize Exhibition at Canada House. Photo by Paul Glen, Canadian High Commission.
Inside The Grange Prize Exhibition at Canada House. Photo by Paul Glen, Canadian High Commission.
Three of the four photographers shortlisted for The Grange Prize 2012: (l-r) Annie MacDonell, Jason Evans and Jo Longhurst. Photo by Paul Glen, Canadian High Commission.
On Sept. 27, 2012, The Grange Prize 2012 Exhibition opened at Canada House, in the heart of London’s Trafalgar Square. Aeroplan and the AGO announced the United Kingdom as the partner country for The Grange Prize 2012 in March of this year. Since then, the AGO and Aimia, Aeroplan’s parent company, have been collaborating with Canada House — part of the High Commission of Canada in London — to make this year’s prize a truly international cultural exchange.
The Canada House Grange Prize exhibition — curated by Sophie Hackett, Lead Juror and Assistant Curator of Photography at the AGO — presents works by the four shortlisted artists and gives visitors a chance to vote for their favourite photographer. It runs until Jan. 6, 2013.
The winner of the $50,000 grand prize will be announced on Nov. 1, 2012, at the second of the AGO’s 1st Thursdays, a monthly public event. That means you have just a couple weeks to make your vote count! In-gallery voting stations are available at the Canada House and AGO exhibitions, as well as online at TheGrangePrize.com.
From left to right: Emmanuelle Léonard (Canada), Citizens, Protest, March 15, 2009, #5137 (detail), 2009. Inkjet print, 102 x 90 cm. Annie MacDonell, The present is the future of the past and the past of the future (The Fortune Teller) (detail), 2012, 16″ x 12″, chromogenic print. Jason Evans, Untitled (detail), from The Daily Nice, 2004–ongoing. Online project, dimensions variable. Jo Longhurst (UK), I Know What You’re Thinking (detail), 2003. Chromogenic print, 101.6 x 76 cm.
This year’s nominated artists share a fascination with the world of images that surround, and often bombard, us every day. Taking on everything from fashion editorial and sports photography to found objects and crime-scene documentation, by appropriating existing images, placing familiar genres in new contexts, and pushing the photographic print into the three-dimensional realm, these nominees reinvigorate our relationship with photography. In this discussion, The Grange Prize 2012 shortlisted artists chatted with members of jury about the provocative issues and topics their works traverse.
Friday, September 7, 3 – 6 pm
in the Dr. Anne Tanenbaum Gallery School
in the Weston Family Learning Centre at the AGO
Session 1: Photography’s Dimensions
3 – 4:15 pm
Click to play:
Moderated by: Dr. Gaëlle Morel, Curator, Ryerson Image Centre
Panelists: Sara Knelman, Annie MacDonell, Jo Longhurst
Since the 1970s, in the wake of post-modernism’s questioning of the photographic image, many contemporary photography artists have worked with spaces of display – studio, gallery, cinema – and their conventions – both past and present – as they push two-dimensional images into the three-dimensional realm. How can we make sense of these expanded dimensions of the image?
Session 2: Photography’s Contexts
4:45 – 6 pm
Click to play:
Moderated by: Sophie Hackett, Lead Juror and Assistant Curator, Photography, AGO
Panelists: Charlotte Cotton, Emmanuelle Léonard, Jason Evans
The photographic images we encounter on a daily basis circulate in the press, on billboards, posters, postcards and online. They teach us, for instance, about fashion, crime, what’s beautiful and what isn’t. How do contemporary photographers today make use of different contexts and modes of circulation to reinvent how we understand photographs?
The Grange Prize 2012 Exhibition opens tomorrow, Sept. 5, and we’re putting the finishing touches on what promises to be a fantastic show. Below, a sneak preview of some of the works by Annie, Jo, Jason and Emmanuelle that will be on display at the Gallery until Jan. 6, 2013.
Celebrate the opening of the exhibition with us tomorrow night at The Grange Prize 2012 launch party, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Walker Court, where you’ll have a chance to hear from the jury and meet the artists in person. Find all the details and RSVP here.
Jo Longhurst, A-Z, from the series Other Spaces.
Jason Evans installation in progress.
Works from Annie MacDonell’s series Picture Collection.
Works from Emmanuelle Léonard’s series Citizens, Protest, March 15, 2009.
Today, together with Aeroplan, we are proud to announce the four finalists for The Grange Prize 2012, the only major Canadian art prize whose winner is chosen by public vote. Two artists from Canada and two from the United Kingdom will compete for the $50,000 prize.
Online voting begins today at www.thegrangeprize.com and will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2012. The winner will be announced on Nov. 1, and we’re hosting a big public party to mark the occasion (stay tuned for details).
The artists on this year’s shortlist share a fascination with the world of images that surround us every day — from fashion editorial and sports photography to landscape images and crime-scene documentation.
Last November, Delhi-based photographer Gauri Gill won The Grange Prize 2011, after her work earned more votes than three other shortlisted photographers from Canada and India, Elaine Stocki, Althea Thauberger and Nandini Valli. She received $50,000 and, along with the other shortlisted artists, a three-to-four-week international residency (Gill spent time in Toronto). Recently, we decided to check in with her to find out what she has been working on since then and to ask about her Grange Prize experience. Below is our Q&A, conducted via email in July/August 2012.
A peek inside Gauri Gill’s upcoming book, Ballika Mela.
Meg Campbell, AGO: Was there one thing about people in Toronto that caught your eye and inspired you to pull out your camera?
Gauri Gill: No, I weirdly never photographed people that much…I got interested in shops, malls, big-box stores, the sad decaying ones from the ’70s, the newer idiosyncratic ones, Chinese malls, suburban malls — various sites of consumption and the way objects are ordered or “curated” to be made somehow desirable to people. In the west, larger cities often seem to have shops everywhere, unlike in India – or at least the India that I grew up in. It’s all changing now. It’s a work in progress, and I’m still trying to process all of it at some level and how it fits into the larger narrative of my work around cities — it always takes me a while.
MC Besides the financial reward, what other benefits were there to winning The Grange Prize? What has it allowed you to do?
GG It gave me the benefit of a pause. And, yes, I could stop worrying about money for a little bit. I’ve always had full-time jobs to pay for the photography I wanted to do personally, and it’s really only since 2009 that I’ve been living off the sales of the work. That’s always precarious, and so at least for a week or two after winning the Grange I could fantasize about all the things I could do with it. Then life went back to normal, as it does — and I was also back in the world of debts and obligations!
As to how I spent the year, I spent the first four months of this year in Delhi and Rajasthan finishing my book Balika Mela, which is coming out in September. Then the summer in Bombay making new work.
MC What are your current and upcoming projects?
GG Well, really at the moment the book is at the top of my mind. I am making prints as well because there will be a show to accompany it in September in Delhi. After that I hope to return to working on newer projects, including my series Rememory…I keep returning to it. I’m also working on another book from the Rajasthan series. That archive of photographs is quite large — more than 40,000 negatives — with very distinct narratives running through it. I showed an excerpt from it in 2010 as Notes from the Desert, but ultimately I hope to do a series of books, each one a “note” from the desert. Balika Mela is the first one.
It’s always such a fine and messy balance between making new things and processing the older ones and finding the practical means to make and share. Not to mention trying to have a little bit of a life.
MC What are the challenges and rewards of turning your work into books?
GG I think the best thing about a book is that you can put the whole series in it so that it can be seen in its entirety. I work on projects that go on for years, and there’s always too much to be contained in one odd exhibition. Images work in different ways — they can work well in isolation but be read quite differently when they are embedded within the context of the rest of the set. And then of course there is dissemination. A photo book can be accessed by a curious teenager, someone in a small town who may not be able to visit big-city exhibitions, a person who doesn’t speak English at all; it can arrive at a footpath or a coffee shop or in the dusty stacks of a dusty library waiting for someone to stumble upon it. My publisher just kindly offered to give one copy to each of the girls featured in it, so there will be all these books in homes in rural Rajasthan.
I can’t think of too many challenges apart from a lack of small, serious and experimental publishers with time to spare, because these things take a great deal of time, especially if you’re obsessive. I was lucky to find one such publisher. For the rest, it all seems contingent on pre-calculating a market and then catering to it, along pre-determined deadlines. There doesn’t seem to be much testing of the waters. Also, photography books are relatively expensive to produce. I suppose the catch for me is the wish to make something very well and sell it very cheap. But I guess expensive books are easier to steal than expensive art work — I had two friends in California who were very good at it.
MC Does photography get as much recognition as an art form in India as it does in Canada?
GG No, it’s only in the past few years that it’s starting to be recognized as an art form. You still cannot get a BFA in photography at any government-certified institution, and an MFA at only one design school. There is no real state support or grants apart from one. However, a few forward-thinking art galleries have started to program photography in — the market has stepped in, in a sense. And the one silver lining is that even with the current recession, photography is still much cheaper to collect than other art forms, so it might survive it. But what we need simultaneously is a critical culture and more conversations around photography. Camerawork Delhi was started as a way to address that, and there are now a few other publications too such as Pix and Punctum, which is great. And late last year Delhi hosted a big photo festival. Luckily, there are various independent and small initiatives that might appear like bubbles and then die out, but something else arrives to take their place. In the end, the scene needs to grow massively, which can only happen through affordable, accessible education; and to break down existing hierarchies and class barriers — that would then hopefully happen automatically.
MC As an artist, how does it feel to have your work judged by the public?
GG Initially I had some reservations, which I also voiced to the AGO. First, the competition aspect itself, which I found disturbing. Two of us thought we could do away with it if all four of us nominees agreed to share the award four ways if we won. But then two of the nominees didn’t agree. So we dropped that. Then, I was worried that people might not bother to look at the work closely and in depth, that they would vote based only on the edited version they saw in the gallery or on the website, and that the work might get dumbed down – or reduced to the greatest hits or the most striking images or something. Or even be focused more on our personalities than the actual work. But in the end the curator Michelle Jacques really tried to put a substantial amount of work out, and then the museum brought so many people in, to have that kind of footfall around photographs was unusual for me, and the kind of debate that was created around the work — perhaps even because of the voting or competition aspect — was fairly extensive. People started to write on blogs about why they liked this or that photographer’s work, argue for it, post links and so on. All kinds of people pitched in — for instance, a really articulate person working at the Toronto prison constructed a fine argument around my work. He really got it. It was good to hear those diverse voices. I realized I had to just throw the work out there and let it go.
Ballika Mela, published by Edition Patrick Frey will be released in Delhi in September 2012. With 72 black-and-white plates and 32 colour reproductions, essays by Gill herself and Manju Saran (in English and Hindi), the book is a document of Gill’s photo studio set up to take portraits of the predominantly female children and adolescents that attended the fair in remote and rural western Rajasthan. In 2003 and again in 2010, Gill collaborated with her subjects to produce these self-conscious portraits, on occasion also conducting workshops on photography and displaying some of the images taken in Lunkaransar previously.
Find out more about Gauri Gill and her work at her website.
For The Grange Prize 2012, the AGO and Aeroplan are partnering with a European country for the first time: the United Kingdom.
Why the UK? The region has a long history of invention and innovation in photography that continues to this day. In the 19th century alone, the UK clocked in a dizzying number of accomplishments that shaped the field. Sir John Herschel coined the terms “photography” as well as “negative” and “positive” to describe William Henry Fox Talbot’s early discoveries. Talbot invented the calotype in 1840, a paper negative precursor to the negative / positive process used until the advent of digital technologies. This new process prompted the collaboration of Scottish duo, David Octavius Hill, a painter, and Robert Adamson, a photographer, whose moody portraits are often cited as the first artistic achievements in the medium. In 1843, the botanist Anna Atkins published a group of cyanotypes of algae, the first book illustrated with photographs. Frederick Scott Archer developed collodion in 1848, an emulsion that significantly reduced exposure times.
The 1851 Exhibition of Works of Industry of all Nations (also known as the Crystal Palace exhibition) debuted many photographic innovations, including stereographic photography, which with its illusion of three-dimensionality became an indispensable 19th century entertainment (the ancestor of the Viewmaster). Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were both huge photophiles, which assured the medium’s popular appeal in the UK. In 1860 they commissioned John Jabez Edwin Mayall to make portraits of the Royal Family and allowed them to be widely disseminated, which fuelled the interest in images of well-known figures.
Roger Fenton’s views of the Crimean War in 1855 have often been described as the first war photographs. The South Kensington Museum presented the first ever exhibition of photography in a museum, organized by the Photographic Society of London, in 1858. Francis Frith founded a photographic publishing firm in 1859 – F. Frith & Co. – that quickly became the world’s largest, with a stock of more than 1 million photographs. James Clerk Maxwell laid the foundations for colour photography in 1861. Peter Henry Emerson was one of the first to publicly champion photography’s artistic possibilities in the 1880s, and The Linked Ring was founded in 1892 to forward those aims. Julia Margaret Cameron – great aunt of Virginia Woolf – remains the most well-known woman photographing in the 19th century, though the dramatic tableaux of Lady Clementina Hawarden and the whimsical photocollages produced by many Victorian ladies can’t be overlooked. And in 1904, London’s Daily Mirror became the first newspaper in the world to be illustrated entirely by photographs.
From this photographic bedrock, things have only accelerated in the 20th and 21st centuries, aided by the robust network of photographic societies, arts institutions, academic programs, festivals, and publications have flourished to support this activity, like the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Media Museum and the Brighton Photo Biennial. Not to mention publications like the British Journal of Photography (established in 1854!), illustrated weekly Picture Post (1938–1957) and Photoworks, a magazine and commissioning agency, which have provided and continue to provide a range of outlets for photographers, thinkers and enthusiasts.
The photographs of Bill Brandt, Bert Hardy, Ian Berry and Don McCullin have reflected social conditions, at home and abroad, at war and at peace. Figures like Cecil Beaton, David Bailey, and Corinne Day all captured the spirit of their time in portraits and fashion photographs – Beaton in the 1920s and 1930s with the “Bright Young People” and beyond; Bailey the “Swinging London” of the 1960s; and in the 1990s, Day’s photographs of a young Kate Moss launched two careers and a whole new look.
After more than 40 years, Gilbert & George continue to make their riotous compositions, paeans to life, love, death and desire. Martin Parr continues to affectionately critique the British middle classes. Gillian Wearing continues to explore the disjunction between how we look and what we think, in photographs and films that are charming as well as haunting. And just last week, Paul Graham was awarded the prestigious Hasselblad Award for a lifetime of work, the first UK photographer to be so honoured.
All of this makes for an ideal moment to take a look at what’s happening in photography now in the UK and to discover the next generation, in dialogue with artists from Canada. The contrasts and similarities promise to deliver a new view on our contemporary moment.
By Sophie Hackett, Assistant Curator, Photography at the AGO and Lead Juror of The Grange Prize 2012.
Canadian and U.K. photography experts form nominating jury
TheArt Gallery of Ontario and Aeroplan will collaborate with the United Kingdom for The Grange Prize 2012. The Prize will bring together artists and curators from both countries to form the nominating jury, who will each bring forth a selection of artists from their home country for consideration.
Four visionary photographers, two each from Canada and the United Kingdom, will be selected by the jury to enter in the running to win Canada’s largest cash award for photography and the only major Canadian art prize whose winner is chosen by the public. In addition to the $50,000 awarded to the winner, the three remaining shortlisted artists receive an international residency and $5,000 each toward the creation of new work, bringing the total amount of cash granted to photographic artists to $65,000.
This year’s jurors are:
Sophie Hackett, assistant curator of photography at the AGO; her projects have included Rhythm of a True Space (2008) and Songs of the Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs, 1858 to Today (2011). In partnership with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in 2010, she commissioned Barbara Kruger to create an untitled installation for the front façade of the AGO, marking the first time it had been used as a site for art.
Sara Knelman, a writer and curator based in London, U.K.; she is also a PhD candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she researches photographic exhibition in mainstream art institutions in recent decades. Between 2006 and 2009, she was curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, a U.K.-based artist duo whose work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London, among other prominent international institutions. They are the recipients of the Vic Odden Award from the Royal Photographic Society, and are trustees of the Photographers’ Gallery and Photoworks.
Charlotte Cotton, who has held the positions of curator and department head of photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, curator of photographs at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and head of programming at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. She is the author and editor of several books, including Then Things Went Quiet (2003), Guy Bourdin (2003) and The Photograph as Contemporary Art (2004).
“The AGO strives to create opportunities for the public to engage with art in meaningful ways. The Grange Prize gives our visitors, members and the international public a chance to participate in a dialogue about contemporary photography, and have a stake in the process,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s Director, and CEO. “The U.K. is well-known for its renowned photographers and holds a reputation as a global centre for contemporary art, and we’re pleased to partner with Aeroplan for a fifth year to foster this essential cultural exchange and showcase the work of four fine artists.”
“We are pleased to work with the AGO again on The Grange Prize and to help promote contemporary photography in Canada and around the world,” said Vince Timpano, President and CEO, Canada, Aimia. “We look forward to celebrating the works of talented Canadian and British artists and we encourage the public to participate and vote for their favourite photographer.”
The Grange Prize 2012 shortlist will be announced and online public voting will commence on Aug. 21, 2012. The AGO’s exhibition of work by the shortlisted artists opens Sept. 5, 2012 with a public launch party that evening. Throughout the course of the exhibition, AGO visitors will also have the opportunity to vote in person at the Gallery. The winner will be announced at a gala reception at the AGO in November.
The Grange Prize, now in its fifth year, was awarded to Indian photographer Gauri Gill in 2011; Canadian artist Kristan Horton in 2010, when the partner country was the U.S.; Mexican photographer Marco Antonio Cruz in 2009; and Winnipeg-based artist Sarah Anne Johnson in 2008, when the partner country was China.
Contemporary programming at the AGO is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
The AGO acknowledges the generous support of its Signature Partners: American Express, Signature Partner of the Conservation Program; and Aeroplan, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program.
Aeroplan, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program, is owned by Groupe Aeroplan Inc., doing business as Aimia a global leader in loyalty management. Aeroplan is a long-standing patron of the arts, with a history of supporting artists and arts initiatives across Canada. Of particular significance is the company’s work, in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario, to develop The Grange Prize for contemporary photography. Aeroplan is committed to fostering a long-term, international dialogue about this important art form. Aeroplan has also joined the AGO in a partnership as the Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program, supporting planned AGO activities to engage visitors with photography, including special lectures and tours.
ABOUT THE AGO
With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2008 the AGO was redesigned by renowned architect Frank Gehry, resulting in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights of the transformed complex include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore the unique surroundings. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creativity programs for families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.
The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.
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