Sobey Award, Canada- Shortlist of 2017

Amid the current social political climate, the question of diversity has become a much more debated subject than ever before. While different institutions have different definitions of "diversity," for example, racial, cultural, gender, geographical, just to name a few. The selection committee of this year's Sobey Art Award has chosen works that are in one form or another addressing the diversity question. 

On this Wednesday (25th), the Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada will make an announcement of the 2017 award winner. Here are the names of the five artists on the shortlist: Raymond Boisjoly, Jacynthe Carrier, Ursula Johnson, Divya Mehra and Bridge Moser. This year's selection reflects the two institutions support to young Canadian contemporary artists from coast to coast. As each of the five artists are from five different regions, they bring forth their personal perspectives on the reality of "diversity" within the conventional social construct that gives rise to cultural stereotypes.  


Bridget Moser, Things A Person is Supposed to Wonder, 2017, documentation image from 
performance at Marselleria Permanent Exhibition, Milan, 31:16 minutes, Photo credit: Sara Scanderebech


Jacynthe Carrier, #4, From the series Icebreaker, 2016, Inkjet print on archival paper, 50 x 50 cm, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Bridget Moser is a Toronto-based performance and video artist. Through her physical comedy and monologue, she creates satirical works that are hilariously funny and poignant. Using her voice and body as the main medium, her self-deprecating lines and acts present themes such as the struggles of a stereotypical artist looking for a break into the art world and the every-day life that has been complicated by new technology. From Montréal, Jacynthe Carrier uses photography and video to investigate the relationships between the physical body and the environment. Her work seeds itself in the exploration of how we conceive and consume the landscape by different ways of intervention that disrupts the every-day and the personal.


Divya Mehra, Without You I’m Nothing (Eating the Other), 2015, 
Neon sculpture, 106.68 x 106.68 x 7.62 cm, Collection of the Royal Bank of Canada, Photo: Karen Asher

Raymond Boisjoly, Author’s Preface,2015, Inkjet prints and wheat paste, Dimensions variable, 
Installation view at Triangle France, Marseilles, Courtesy of Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver, Photo: Aurélien Mole

Ursula Johnson, Ode to Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, 2016, 
yellow and grey birch bark, 140 lb acid-free watercolour paper, pH neutral adhesive, black ash ribbon,
 sweetgrass, maple wood, gold spray-painted metal garment rack on casters, antique wooden garment hanger with brass hook, 
198 × 122 × 162.5 cm, Photo: Karen Ashe

Raymond Boisjoly is an artist of Haida and Québécois descent, whose text based work looks at how the indigenous culture is represented in popular media. Often working from real life examples, appropriating words and text, his work prompts us re-consider the relationships between the "self" and the "other."  Divya Mehra's work examines the long-term effects of colonialism and institutional racism.  Through her practice, she questions the sincerity and the validity of "acceptance" in the context of a modern "diversity" social construct. Based in Winnipeg, Delhi and New York, the artist works in a wide range of media, such as sculpture, print, drawing, artist books, installation, advertising, video, and film. She appropriates contemporary media to address the rift between political slogans of diversity versus the reality in ordinary life. Ursula Johnson is a performance and installation artist of Mi’kmaw First Nation ancestry. She was born in Sydney, Cape Breton, NS, and incorporates the traditional basket-weaving technique taught to her by her great-grandmother, Caroline Gould, who was also a renowned artist into her own work. For her durational work, she creates tension in the viewer by performing repetitive acts that strains her own body. Her sculptural work asks the viewer to re-consider the notions of tradition and cultural heritage in light of post-colonial institutional critique.  

Stay tuned for the winner announcement at 7pm EST onWednesday!

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