The 2023 Winners of the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award

The 2023 Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award winners: Wynne Neilly, Hannah Doucet and Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez.

The 2023 Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award winners: Wynne Neilly (Photo: Courtesy the artist); Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez (Photo: Kim M. Hipol + David Aquino); and Hannah Doucet (Photo: Colin Medley).


The 2023 Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada presents work by the three winning artists – Hannah Doucet, Wynne Neilly and Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez. This year's recipients explore the present-day complexities of representing the body, identity, culture and history through video and photographic means. Andrea Kunard, Chair of the NGPA jury and Senior Curator of Photographs, praises the work for both its incisiveness and its commitment to imagining new possibilities: “As much as their images operate as critical statements on contemporary life, they also function to open dialogue and create community,” Kunard says. “With great visual sophistication, care and curiosity, the Scotiabank NGPA winners demonstrate the continued power and significance of lens-based images to both probe shared concerns and anxieties and offer new insights into negotiating an image-saturated culture.”

Created in partnership with Scotiabank and launched in 2017, the annual prize recognizes outstanding work by Canadian lens-based artists ages 35 and under. Past winners include Meryl McMaster, Luther Konadu and Séamus Gallagher.

 

Wynne Neilly

Wynne Neilly, Mac, Queer Skate Jam, 2021, chromogenic print

Wynne Neilly, Mac, Queer Skate Jam, 2021, chromogenic print. Collection of the artist. © Wynne Neilly Photo: Courtesy the artist

Wynne Neilly is a maker of calm, caring and meditative images. Queer and trans identified, the Toronto-based artist creates intimate portraits of other queer and trans subjects. In one, a cool character embodies easy poise and confidence, stretching a skateboard behind their head, while another shows a couple locked in a tender pose on the couch in their home. Images like these honour the individuals in front of Neilly’s lens and, together, convey the love and support of community. Photographs of natural and urban landscapes — the tangerine sky dramatically framed by treetops, mesh torn into a dancing form seen through a rusty fence — punctuate the portraiture to lyrical effect. The collection of images is a record of how Neilly sees the world –especially how people express themselves within it and the places, both literal and figurative, they will find for themselves to feel true.    

 

Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez

Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez, Untitled (Piso de Isaac), 2021, chromogenic and inkjet prints.

Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez, Untitled (Piso de Isaac), 2021, chromogenic and inkjet prints. Collection of the artist. © Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez Photo: Courtesy the artist

Vancouver-based artist Gonzalo Reyes Rodriguez uses archival photography and found ephemera to investigate the ways we read images. The works on display spring from a box of old snapshots (dated 1987–93) by an unknown photographer, which the artist purchased from a bookstore in Mexico City. Rodriguez contrasts these photographs with images from his personal archive, reading connections with his own recent past in the photo trail of this anonymous young man. A video work sees two of the artist’s colleagues, an investigative journalist and an arts writer, examining the unknown photographer’s works for clues that may shed more light on his story. Ultimately, nothing can be concluded with certainty. Such is the nature of photography, the series argues, less a document of reality and more a portal that we project ourselves into and inhabit for a brief moment.

 

Hannah Doucet

Hannah Doucet, Watch in Awe (video still), 2021–22, video

Hannah Doucet, Watch in Awe (video still), 2021–22, video, 3 min 24 sec. Collection of the artist. © Hannah Doucet Photo: Courtesy the artist

Although Toronto-based artist Hannah Doucet’s work at first appears cheerful in its pop style and childlike quality – bright, saturated colours; friendly-faced mascots; cartoons and other motifs borrowed from children’s entertainment – it quickly melts and deforms to tell a much more difficult story. Treated for cancer when she was eight years old, the artist now revisits her wish-trip to Disney World. Told through images, videos and photo installations that reveal the artificiality of the amusement industry’s fantasy, Doucet calls our attention to the noxiously positive messaging delivered to kids around sickness and living “happily ever after.” It is a candy-coloured palliative, the work suggests, forcing children to disentangle these painful memories, as well as their childhood hopes and fears around the experience of serious illness and recovery, on their own years later – a confounding, fairytale-themed bad dream.

 

The 2023 Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award  exhibition, supported by the Scotiabank Photography Program at the National Gallery of Canada, is on view in Room C218 at the National Gallery of Canada until January 7, 2024. 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.

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