Work created by the five finalists for the 2018 Sobey Art Award is the focus of the new contemporary art exhibition opening at the National Gallery of Canada on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. Joi T. Arcand, Jordan Bennett, Kapwani Kiwanga, Jeneen Frei Njootli and Jon Rafman present works that explore Cree syllabics and public space, kinship, land and belonging, the effects of architecture on behaviour, the evocative power of sound and materials, surreal narratives, and immersive video installations.
“Contemporary artists in Canada are producing work that is intelligent, engaged, striking and responsive to the world in which we live. This year’s shortlist is no exception, and represents the breadth of accomplished practices from across the country. With practices that include video, performance, sound and installation, this year’s exhibition provides a strong overview of approaches at the forefront of contemporary art,” said National Gallery of Canada Director and CEO, Marc Mayer.
The Sobey Art Award was created in 2002 by the Sobey Art Foundation to celebrate artists age 40 and under who have exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. A jury of seasoned curators, including an international juror, selects 25 artists from the submitted nominations – five from each designated region of Canada – for the longlist. One artist from each region is then selected by the jury for the shortlist, ensuring the breadth of contemporary practices from across the country are represented.
In this year’s exhibition, Jeneen Frei Njootli, the finalist from the West Coast and Yukon, activates objects through performance and sound, leaving only traces of her gestures to resist the evocative power of sound and materials. Joi T. Arcand, representing the Prairies and the North, uses Cree syllabics to intervene into public and architectural space and imagine a world where Indigenous languages are present and powerful. Representing Ontario, Kapwani Kiwanga explores the effects of colour and institutional architecture, questioning how they are used to shape or control behaviour. Jon Rafman, who represents Quebec, creates immersive video installations, drawing from online communities and platforms to create surreal narratives that question our relationship to technology. And Atlantic Canada’s Jordan Bennett blends technology and his Mi’kmaq worldview to speak about kinship, land and belonging in his installations.
Presented annually, the Sobey Art Award provides significant financial recognition and professional support to some of Canada’s most exciting young artists. The $240,000 prize money is divided among the 25 nominated artists - $100,000 for the winner, $25,000 for the four shortlisted finalists, and $2,000 each for the longlisted artists. In 2018, the Sobey Art Award was expanded to include international art residencies for three of the longlisted artists, raising the total value of the Sobey Art Award to $315,000 CAD.
“In 2018, the Sobey Art Award embarked on an important new journey in its mission to support contemporary Canadian artists. This past year, the Award has seen its prize purse increase and international residencies added, to further enhance opportunities for Canadian artists,” said Rob Sobey, Chairman of the Sobey Art Foundation. “The Sobey Art Foundation and the Sobey family look forward to continuing to celebrate the achievements of young artists, to facilitate dialogue, and to share our passion for Canadian art on the national and international stage for many years to come.”
The winner of the Sobey Art Award will be announced at the National Gallery of Canada on November 14, 2018, during a private gala.
The 2018 Sobey Art Award exhibition, which continues at the Gallery until February 10, 2019, is presented with the generous support of the Sobey Art Foundation.
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The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual illustrated booklet, published by the National Gallery of Canada, and features photographs of the artists and their work, and essays by each of the jury members: Heather Igloliorte, Jean-François Bélisle, November Paynter, Kristy Trinier and Melanie O’Brian, as well as an essay by International Juror, Séamus Kealy. The publication is free and available at the Boutique and online at ShopNGC.ca.
The public is invited to attend the official exhibition opening on Wednesday, October 3, starting at 6 pm in the Scotiabank Great Hall of the National Gallery of Canada. Admission is free. This year’s shortlisted artists, Joi T. Arcand, Jordan Bennett, Kapwani Kiwanga, Jeneen Frei Njootli and Jon Rafman, will be present, and the opening will feature a special performance by Jeneen Frei Njootli at 6:30 pm in the Lower Contemporary Galleries.
Sobey Art Award: Artist Roundtable
On Wednesday, October 3, 2018 from 4 to 5:30 pm, join the five shortlisted artists as they share details about their artistic practices in a roundtable discussion moderated by 2014 Sobey Art Award winner, Nadia Myre. The event will be followed by the public opening of the Sobey Art Award exhibition. A live stream of the Artist Roundtable will be broadcast from the Gallery’s YouTube channel. In English with simultaneous French interpretation. Free admission. Seats in the Auditorium will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Lectures and Talks
October Talks: Salzburger Kunstverein
In Salzburg, Austria on Wednesday, October 10 at 7 pm, Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada, and Chair of the 2018 Sobey Art Award Jury, will present details of the Sobey Art Award and this year’s five shortlisted artists as part of a series of talks on art and culture by international curators, directors, philosophers and other specialists taking place. At the Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg, Austria.
Meet the Expert: Josée Drouin-Brisebois
On Saturday, October 20, 2018 from noon to 1 pm, explore work by the five artists shortlisted for the 2018 Sobey Art Award with Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada and Chair of the 2018 Sobey Art Award Jury. In English with bilingual question period. Included with admission to the Gallery.
Meet the Expert: Séamus Kealy
Join us on Friday, November 16, 2018 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm for a talk with Séamus Kealy, International Juror for the 2018 Sobey Art Award and Director of the Salzburger Kunstverein in Austria. Previously, he was Director of The Model, Sligo, Ireland, and Curator at the Blackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto. He writes and lectures regularly on contemporary art and has a background in activism. In English with simultaneous French interpretation.
Conversation with the 2018 Sobey Art Award Winner
On Thursday, November 15 at 6 pm, the winner of the 2018 Sobey Art Award joins Mary Lynk, award winning journalist and producer for CBC radio’s IDEAS program, for an on-stage conversation. In English with simultaneous French interpretation. Free admission.
From October 3, 2018 to February 10, 2019, explore work by the five artists shortlisted for the 2018 Sobey Art Award. Representing the breadth of contemporary practices from five regions across the country, find out how Joi T. Arcand, Jordan Bennett, Kapwani Kiwanga, Jeneen Frei Njootli and Jon Rafman engage with a variety of ideas and approaches. Price: $8 per adult plus Gallery admission.
About the Sobey Art Award: https://www.gallery.ca/whats-on/sobey-art-award
About the Sobey Art Foundation: Sobey Art Foundation
About the National Gallery of Canada: gallery.ca
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