Chris Myhr The Prefix Prize

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    Chris Myhr, Lake Erie, from the series Ab-Solutes, 2020. Courtesy the artist and Prefix ICA, Toronto

The Prefix Prize is a new annual award, given to photographic artists of any nationality, which is designed to honour artists at any stage of their career who have yet to receive the recognition they deserve. The inaugural recipient is Chris Myhr. A resident of Hamilton, Ontario, Myhr is a media artist who engages with the still and moving image, sound, electronics, and installation.

In his work, Myhr explores the intersection between art, science, and ecology, specifically the complex interrelationships between humans and the hydrosphere. Indeed, water—its raw power, its exploitation as a resource, its vital necessity to life—permeates all aspects of his work, both as subject matter and as source material for image and sound. Since 2012, Myhr’s overarching project Point-Line-Intersection has examined, among other marine phenomena, the flood plains of Tokyo in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake, the sea floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and the toxic blooms of blue-green algae in Lake Ontario.

Continuing his exploration of the transformative power and the material legacies of water, two new photographic series, Lake Erie and Athabasca River, which belong to the larger body of work Ab-Solutes (2020), receive their world premiere in the Prefix Prize exhibition. Both series comprise macro photographs of hydrocarbon sediment: those in Lake Erie were drawn from the western shoreline of Point Pelee peninsula and those in Athabasca River were drawn from filtered snow samples gathered along the banks of the eponymous river. Translating into striking aesthetic images that which is unseen, invisible, and all-too-easily dismissed, the work rewards careful consideration and repeated viewings, gradually unfolding in its complexity as both formal and free, colour and monochromatic, abstract and representational.

Presented by Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art in partnership with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and Underline Studio, and with the assistance of Partners in Art, the inaugural Prefix Prize consists of an exhibition, a publication, and a cash award of $2,000.00. The prize was juried by five senior experts in contemporary photographic art, including Pamela Edmonds, senior curator, McMaster Museum of Art (Hamilton); Scott McLeod, founding director, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art (Toronto); Fidel Peña, creative director, Underline Studio (Toronto); Bonnie Rubenstein, artistic director, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival (Toronto); and Alexia Tala, independent curator of contemporary art (Santiago de Chile). In addition to choosing the recipient of this year’s prize, the jury recognized an artist with an honourable mention: Mathieu Grenier is a Montreal-based artist who draws upon the virtual, sculptural, and photographic in his photo-installation practice.

Presented in partnership with Prefix ICA and Underline Studio, and founding partner Partners in Art

Installation Views

    Chris Myhr, The Prefix Prize, installation view, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, May 1 – July 17, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Prefix ICA (Toronto). Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
    Chris Myhr, The Prefix Prize, installation view, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, May 1 – July 17, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Prefix ICA (Toronto). Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid
    Chris Myhr, The Prefix Prize, installation view, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, May 1 – July 17, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Prefix ICA (Toronto). Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid