New Generation Photography Award
The New Generation Photography Award recognizes outstanding photographic work by three emerging Canadian lens-based artists, age 35 and under. This year’s exhibition features the winners from 2020: Noah Friebel (Vancouver), Curtiss Randolph (Toronto), and Katherine Takpannie (Ottawa); and from 2021: Dustin Brons (Vancouver), Chris Donovan (Toronto-Saint John), and Dainesha Nugent-Palache (Toronto). A testament to photography’s broad expressive capacity, this selection of artists represents the forefront of new lens-based practices in Canada.
Employing distinct approaches, these two cohorts of award winners convey issues of social urgency, communicate personal journeys, examine conceptual strategies, and explore the intricacies of identity and culture.
Noah Friebel uses sculptural elements and installation contexts to consider the 2D basis of the photographic image. His work underscores the mechanics and boundaries of picture making and the notion that the medium pivots on dichotomies—inner/outer realities, documentary/abstraction, and 2D (image)/3D (object). For example, in Arch (Ascending) (2019), the photograph’s frame echoes architectural elements appearing in the image, creating a conceptual link and feedback loop between real and photographed objects.
Curtiss Randolph constructs staged narratives to question notions of photographic fact and fiction. In Horizon (2017), he choreographs a small drama at a corner gas station. Through multiple vantage points of a single scene, he lays bare a series of common racial micro-aggressions that reveal the power dynamics at play even in the most innocuous of places. Randolph shows how discrimination unfolds in subtle ways, which when experienced on a daily basis, slowly erodes self-image and confidence.
Born in Montreal and raised in Ottawa, Inuk artist Katherine Takpannie’s images capture the contemporary contexts and environments of Inuit experience. In Our Women and Girls are Sacred (2016), Takpannie honours missing and murdered Indigenous women through performance. Images depict her moving through a snow-covered landscape, her face obscured by the haze from a smoke grenade. Other works speak to the quiet power of the female form in nature. Takpannie’s work acknowledges the strength of tradition that underpins her travels, the urgent situations that Inuit youth must address, and the critical support of community in confronting these issues.
Dustin Brons’ videos and photographs inquire into the ideological constitution of everyday life and how we frame an understanding of objects, the environment, and urban existence through familiar communication methods. His video Smoke (BC, 2017–18) presents a montage of found social media images depicting British Columbia and the surrounding region blanketed with smoke from wildfires. The video indicates how individuals chose to engage with the phenomenon by creating traditional pictorial scenes with their cell phone cameras, while remaining ambiguous about the event’s environmental implications.
In his series The Cloud Factory (2014–ongoing), Saint John photographer Chris Donovan explores environmental injustice and classism, while examining how one’s surroundings impact identity. A city of extremes, Saint John is home to Canada’s largest oil refinery, and the city’s population includes some of the country’s wealthiest citizens as well as one of its poorest neighbourhoods. Juxtaposing images of harsh realities with intimate moments of people in his community, Donovan presents a poignant portrait of a singular industry’s effect on individual well-being and its deleterious environmental impact.
Through performative video and photography, Dainesha Nugent-Palache explores the dichotomies and paradoxes inherent in representations of Afro-Caribbean femininities. Her work often negotiates with forms of glamour, excess, and other photographic strategies inherent to the visual cultures of consumer capitalism. In portraits such as Angaer (2016) the artist takes an exuberant approach to colour and display to present a visualization of Black diaspora across pasts, presents, and speculative futures. Her still-life-based works are infused with histories of colonization, family narratives, cultural significance, and personal reminiscences.
Established in 2017 by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in collaboration with Scotiabank, the Scotiabank Photography Award supports the careers of emerging Canadian artists. The winners each receive a $10,000 prize and in addition to this exhibition in CONTACT, a selection of each artist’s work will subsequently be shown together at the NGC.
Curated by Andrea Kunard
Organized by the National Gallery of Canada in partnership with Scotiabank, the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and the Ryerson Image Centre, Ryerson University