The New Generation Photography Award recognizes outstanding photographic imagery by three emerging Canadian lens-based artists, ages 30 and under. The recipients of the inaugural 2018 award are Elisa Julia Gilmour, Meryl McMaster, and Deanna Pizzitelli. They each receive a $10,000 prize, and their work is first shown together at the Canadian Photography Institute’s Photolab gallery of the National Gallery of Canada. While these three artists refer to very distinct worlds, this exhibition at Onsite Gallery creates a rich dialogue through their varied formal and technical means.
Toronto-based artist Elisa Julia Gilmour works with still and moving images to explore cultural, familial, and gender identities. She completed her BFA at Ryerson University and her MFA in visual studies at the University of Toronto. Over Their Own (2014) examines the complexities of motherhood through a response to 19th-century photographic studio portraits of infants held steady by a hidden figure. Three different mothers take centre stage in the series: mothers holding their veiled child, the artist’s mother and actor Michele Smith, and Addie Bundren—a fictional character performed by Smith, from William Faulkner’s 1930 novel As I Lay Dying. In 2016, Gilmour created Éperdument (Madly), composed of a three-channel video installation and a publication of short stories, which investigate how the Corsican mythological figure of the mazzere has enlivened a contemporary sense of identity. Gilmour is currently writing a script about intergenerational ruptures caused by emigration.
Meryl McMaster is an Ottawa-based artist of Plains Cree/ European decent. She completed her BFA at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU). Her self-portraiture is influenced by Canadian landscapes and the complexities of her family heritage. She incorporates objects and elaborate sculptural garments that she makes herself, to illustrate a journey of self-discovery that explores how we construct a sense of self through lineage, history, and culture. Bring Me To This Place (2017) was created at the historically and culturally significant ancestral site of Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Here, bison, along with the prairie chicken and beaver, were hunted sustainably for over 6,000 years but in a matter of decades after settlement they were hunted almost to extinction. McMaster brings awareness to the consequences of colonization and how greed and lack of foresight continue to impact the land and its inhabitants today. In her series Wanderings (2015), McMaster explores the unknown, with imaginary creatures—most often birds—acting as guides and protectors.
Deanna Pizzitelli uses analogue processes to explore themes of longing, loss, eroticism, uncertainty, and desire. Her intimately scaled photographs consider a wide range of disparate subject matter, woven into a visual narrative that acts as a photographic archive depicting a long-lost time and place. Her practice is motivated by the act of travel, the visual residue of her many intersections with landscape, wildlife, and culture. The Story of You (2018) is a meditation on connection and severed ties. It functions as a mind, scanning through moments of personal history. These images present an experience of both a person and a particular frame of mind in which clarity itself is suspect. Based in Ottawa, Pizzitelli completed her BFA at Ryerson University and her MFA at the University of Arizona.
Gilmour, McMaster, and Pizzitelli were selected from a group of 24 nominees by a jury made up of Stan Douglas, artist and winner of the Scotiabank Photography Award (2013); Robert Bean, artist and professor of visual arts at Nova Scotia Art and Design University; and Elena Navarro, director of the FotoMéxico festival. In addition to the three winning photographers, the exhibition also presents all of the nominees: Corinne Beaumier (Montreal), Andrea Cormier (Montreal), Marly Fontaine (Uashat), Emily Geen (Victoria), Kiana Hayeri (Kaboul, Afghanistan/Téhéran, Iran), Andi Icaza-Largaespada (Vancouver), Jackson Klie (Guelph), Francis Macchiagodena (Montreal), Lucas Morneau (Corner Brook), Annie France Noël (Moncton), Alison Postma (Toronto), Rena Thomas (Halifax), Ioana Vanessa Bezman (Montreal), Sam Cotter (Toronto), Benjamin Freedman (Toronto), Laurence Hervieux- Gosselin (Montreal/Syracuse, New York), Olivia Johnston (Ottawa), Clara Lacasse (Montreal), Wynne Neilly (Toronto), Lisandre St-Cyr Lamothe (Montreal), and Kyle Zurevinski (Saskatoon).
The New Generation Photography Award was founded by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada in partnership with Scotiabank. The award was designed to support the careers of young artists and to help them reach their infinite potential.
Organized by and presented in partnership with the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, Scotiabank and Onsite Gallery
Curated by Luce Lebart