NEW GENERATION PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD 2022
In their work, the winners of the 2022 New Generation Photography Award – Séamus Gallagher, Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes and Clara Lacasse – explore the many challenges in contemporary representations of identity, culture and the environment. They share a common preoccupation with the protean nature of the photographic image: its capacity to reveal and conceal and to find disparate, sometimes contradictory applications. Their works tease at the boundaries of authenticity and artifice, desire and actuality, the natural and the constructed. These artists celebrate visual excess with an eye to questioning what such abundance communicates. With great visual sophistication, thoughtfulness and curiosity, the NGPA winners probe shared concerns and anxieties, always mindful of their own role in adding to an already visually saturated culture.
Organized by the National Gallery of Canada, supported by the Scotiabank Photography Program, the annual New Generation Photography Award recognizes outstanding photographic imagery by three emerging Canadian lens-based artists aged 35 and under. Shown earlier this year as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto, a selection of work by this year's winners is currently on view at the National Gallery of Canada.
Halifax-based Séamus Gallagher casts a queer, non-binary lens on identities and habitations, fabricating and layering multiple realities through virtual and actual collage techniques. Challenging proposed “norms” of identities, with their singular monolithic mandates, Gallagher uses collage to present fractured constructions of selves, emphasizing pieces exposed in their disjunction and tenuousness of connection. Through a plethora of wildly coloured, hot-glued photographs and surreal digital dance clubs populated by frolicking cyborg bodies, the artist proposes that normativity is the most brittle of constructions. Their recent work, focusing on the often-ignored textures and surfaces through which we are made visible to others, was inspired by those, including themself, who have been transitioning throughout the pandemic.
Sensitive to our contemporary image-saturated realities, Vancouver-based Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes explores the visual languages of today’s mass-image consumers. She layers certain works using processes learned through her history of making band posters. Her recent works consist of photographs of objects made to look as if they were to be sold and used. They are overlaid with altered seating plans of concert halls and auditoriums in Hong Kong. Holmes evokes the influences of marketing aesthetics on vernacular imagery – especially on social media – while questioning the impact of the volume and speed of image production on society.
Montreal artist Clara Lacasse explores the renovation of Montreal’s Biodôme, and the ecological, ethical, historical and social issues it raises. Approaching her subject with a mix of documentary and artistry, Lacasse carefully composes each shot with an emphasis on the formal qualities of picture-making. Her exacting views hold in tension the many conflicting ideas the Biodôme represents. Nature and culture sit in ambiguous relation. Images indicate the artificial methods used to manufacture Eden: cement, metal rods and fibreglass. At its best, the Biodôme is a reminder of the human desire to appreciate, care for and understand the natural world. On the other hand, Lacasse’s images also raise disturbing questions with respect to our current environmental state.
Work by the winners of the 2022 New Generation Photography Award, organized by the National Gallery of Canada, supported by the Scotiabank Photography Program is on view at the National Gallery of Canada until December 19, 2022. Share this article and subscribe to our newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest articles, Gallery exhibitions, news and events, and to learn more about art in Canada.