Aimia | AGO Photography Prize announces 2014 shortlist

Jury selects four international finalists; public vote for $50,000 prize
begins today

TORONTO, Aug. 13, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – Four extraordinary artists have
been shortlisted for the 2014 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize. The Prize, co-presented by Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management, and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), will award each of the four artists a six-week artist residency in
Canada and feature their work in an AGO exhibition opening Sept. 3, 2014. The winner of the $50,000 prize will be chosen by public vote, which
begins today at the Prize’s website and Facebook page.

The 2014 finalists are:

  • David Hartt (Canada);
  • Elad Lassry (Israel/USA);
  • Nandipha Mntambo (South Africa); and
  • Lisa Oppenheim (USA).

Together representing the cutting edge of international photography, the
four artists engage with broad historical and cultural forces such as
war, colonialism, urban planning and advertising. They each have a
distinct approach to visualizing the world, creating environments and
materials that express diverse and thoughtful ideas about the ways past
and present experiences are communicated through images.

David Hartt was born in Montreal in 1967 and currently lives and works in Chicago.
In his installations, which include photographs, videos and sculptures,
Hartt 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, he calls attention to the ways
our built environments exist and evolve. After extensive research and
site visits, Hartt distills this material into complex and elegant
installations. His exhibition Stray Light, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2011) travelled
to the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Carnegie Museum of Art,
Pittsburgh (2014), among other galleries. His work is in many public
collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of
American Art and the National Gallery of Canada. He graduated with an
MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994.

“Our understanding of ourselves is deeply rooted in the spaces we

David Hartt

Elad Lassry was born in Tel Aviv in 1977 and currently lives and works in Los
. At the centre of his 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. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Kunsthalle Zurich; and
Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan. Lassry earned an MFA in 2007
from the University of Southern California.

“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.”

Elad Lassry

Nandipha Mntambo was born in 1982 in Swaziland and currently lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mntambo’s practice includes sculpture, photography, performance and
video. Her work investigates such dualities as male/female,
attraction/repulsion, animal/ human, and European/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 individuals’ capacity to shape the world around
them, while also highlighting notions of race, gender and history.
Mntambo won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in
2011. In 2007 she graduated with an MFA from the Michaelis School of
Fine Art, University of Cape Town.

“I’m interested in uncovering that binary – that in-between space that
you can’t always pinpoint or articulate.”

Nandipha Mntambo

Lisa Oppenheim was born in 1975 in New York City, where she lives and works.
Oppenheim’s photographs and videos are composed of images and materials
from the recent and not-so-recent past that she re-processes and
transforms through various historical and contemporary techniques. Her
process often begins online, where she sources images and objects that
she reinterprets photographically using both analogue and digital
technologies. Through this approach, the process itself becomes source
material, as Oppenheim gives photographic images new forms and new
contexts. Recent solo exhibitions include Forever is Composed of Nows, Kunsterverin in Hamburg; From Abigail to Jacob (Works 2004-2014), Kunstverein in Graz; and Heaven Blazing into the Head, The Approach Gallery, London. Oppenheim graduated with an MFA from The
Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College in 2002.

“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

A jury of three selected the four finalists from a long list of 22
artists. The jury included lead juror Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s associate curator of photography; Okwui Enwezor, Nigerian-born, German-based scholar, curator, writer and director of
Haus der Kunst, Munich; and New York-based photo and video-based artist
Laurie Simmons.

“This year’s long list was really impressive – an exciting range of
artists from around the world, highlighting such diverse approaches to
the photographic image,” said Hackett. “We were drawn to the four
nominees for the distinctive visual force and rigour of their work, but
also for the ways they each address historical and philosophical
questions about photography’s role today. We are delighted to showcase
their work in Toronto for the first time and to award them an
opportunity to develop new projects and create new connections through
their residencies.”

The Aimia | AGO Photography Prize is Canada’s most significant award for contemporary photography,
recognizing photographers from around the world whose work has
exhibited extraordinary potential over the preceding five years. It has
a total annual prize value of more than $100,000, with $50,000 awarded
to the winner, $5,000 awarded to each of the other shortlisted artists
and $25,000 supporting a national scholarship program for students
studying photography at select institutions across Canada. The
remainder funds six-week residencies for the four shortlisted artists
at institutions across Canada.

The winner of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize is chosen entirely by public vote. Online voting opens today at and on the Prize’s Facebook page and is open until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2014. Visitors to the AGO can
also cast a vote inside the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize 2014 Exhibition, on view at the AGO from Sept. 3, 2014 to Jan. 4, 2015. The winner of the 2014 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize will be announced on Oct. 29, 2014.

Previous winners of the Prize include Canada’s Erin Shirreff (2013),
Britain’s Jo Longhurst (2012), Gauri Gill of India (2011), Canadian
Kristan Horton (2010), Marco Antonio Cruz of Mexico (2009) and Canadian
Sarah Anne Johnson (2008).

For updates on the Prize, further details on the shortlisted artists and
additional information, please visit and follow @AimiaAGOPrize on Twitter.

View video interviews with the finalists and continue the conversation

Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management, has adopted two
fundamental principles of loyalty, trust and reciprocity, as the
pillars of its global social purpose – to create mutually-beneficial
partnerships that leave a lasting impact in our communities. As an
enthusiastic patron of the Arts, Aimia supports many Canadian and
International arts and culture initiatives through donations,
sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. Aimia has supported
several Canadian cultural organizations including the Art Gallery of
Ontario, Art Canada Institute, Business for the Arts, Canadian Art
, the Design Exchange, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the
National Gallery of Canada, Luminato Festival, the Walrus Foundation
and Canada’s presentation at the International Art and Architecture
Venice Biennale since 2006. Aimia is proud to engage in a dialogue
around the arts through the Aimia l AGO Photography Prize and
scholarship program, and through our office art installations in
Montreal and Toronto. Visit us at to learn more.

With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario 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
masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002
Kenneth Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian
and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative
architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in
2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural
achievements in North America. Highlights 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 AGO has an active membership program offering
great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers
engaging art and creative programs for children, 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, Culture and Sport. 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.

The AGO acknowledges the generous support of Aimia, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program and Founding
Partner of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize.




For media inquiries, images or interview requests, please contact:

Talvi Kuld
Arts & Communications I 416.966.3421 x 204

Sabrina Bhangoo
Aimia I 647.329.5123

Caitlin Coull
Art Gallery of Ontario I 416.979.6660 x 364

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