News Releases - 2004
Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts: Announcement of laureates
Ottawa, March 3 2004 - The Canada Council for the Arts today announced the names of the seven winners of the fifth annual Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts
Downloadable images of the artists and selected works are available on the Canada Council web site: http://www.canadacouncil.ca/prizes/ggvma/.
Artists Iain Baxter, Eric Cameron, Istvan Kantor, Garry Neill Kennedy, John Oswald and Ian Wallace, and curator, artist and Aboriginal arts advocate Tom Hill will be presented with their awards by Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, March 10.
“This year’s laureates show us Canadian art which is profound, deeply insightful, humorous and often playful,” said the Governor General. “The sophistication of their work helps us to understand the creative process and what it means to all of us.”
“Artists interpret and reveal the complexities of life around them in ways we never imagined possible. In so doing, our 2004 laureates educate, inspire and challenge us to see things differently. They have conveyed, with energy and vision and through a wide range of forms, an impassioned critique of our society,” said Canada Council Director John Hobday.
The annual awards, funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, were created in June 1999 and presented for the first time in March 2000. The awards recognize distinguished career achievement in the visual and media arts by Canadian artists, as well as outstanding contributions to the visual and media arts through voluntarism, philanthropy, board governance, community outreach or professional activities.
In addition to a $15,000 prize, each laureate will be presented with an original artwork created by Nova Scotia ceramic artist Walter Ostrom, winner of the 2003 Saidye Bronfman Award.
Biographical notes and jury citations for the seven laureates follow below. The six winners in the artistic category are listed in alphabetical order, followed by the winner in the “Outstanding Contribution” category.
Iain Baxter studied zoology and education at the University of Idaho before earning an MFA from Washington State University. He has taught at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and York University. He is currently Professor Emeritus in the School of Visual Arts at the University of Windsor, where he has taught since 1988. His work, as a solo artist and as a partner in N.E. Thing Co., has been exhibited across Canada and the U.S. and can be found in numerous collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Iain Baxter lives in Windsor.
Jury citation: “Iain Baxter’s art is as wide-ranging as the cultural contexts in which he has operated - from the 60s to the present. His pioneering conceptual art and experiments in different media - photography, light boxes, painting, video, earth works, information systems and multimedia installations - have made him an idea dynamo, provocateur, devil’s advocate, activist and social critic. His boundless curiosity continues to fascinate, both in Canada and abroad, and dismantle barriers between art and life. He has had a profound and original influence as an artist and educator.”
Eric Cameron studied painting at King’s College, University of Durham, in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and art history at the Courtauld Institute in London. He has taught at the University of Leeds, England, the University of Guelph, Ontario, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and is currently teaching at the University of Calgary. Cameron has been exhibiting his art since the 1950s - in his native England, Europe, the U.S. and Canada. He has lectured widely and published extensively, including the major work, English Roots (2001). He has received the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award (1993) and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (1994). Eric Cameron lives in Calgary.
Jury citation: “In a career that stretches over 40 years, Eric Cameron has demonstrated a fierce dedication to the practice of art, as well as to his work as art historian and teacher. His focus on the process of art - and of life - and transformation (often of everyday objects) has consumed him, and fascinated growing numbers of admirers. He is a highly creative theorist and writer who has intimately explored, through his writing and art, the multi-layered mysteries of art and life.”
Istvan Kantor (also known previously as Monty Cantsin) is a media artist/producer active in performance art, robotics, installation, sound, music, video and new media. Kantor’s interactive robotic performance work has been featured at Ars Electronica 2000. He has received the Telefilm Canada Award for Best Canadian Video (1998) and the Transmediale 2001 video award in Berlin. His avant-garde work has been described by the media as rebellious and anti-authoritarian, as well as technically innovative and highly experimental. Istvan Kantor has lived in Budapest, Paris, Montreal and New York. He currently lives in Toronto.
Jury citation: “Istvan Kantor’s work in video and performance art is on the cutting and critical edge of contemporary art. His is an aggressive and unapologetic aesthetic of excess. Kantor’s interdisciplinary, no-holds-barred, neo-Dada art has earned him a large international following and a unique reputation. He embraces technology in order to confront, and revolt against, the mind-numbing and oppressive nature of technology and the power structures it supports.”
Garry Neill Kennedy
Garry Neill Kennedy studied at the Ontario College of Art, the University of Buffalo and the University of Ohio. In 1967, at the age of 32, he was appointed president of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the youngest ever to serve in that position. He headed the college for 23 years. In addition to teaching at NSCAD, he has taught and lectured throughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe. He has exhibited extensively, including a major show at the National Gallery of Canada in 2000. He was awarded the Portia White Prize by the Arts Council of Nova Scotia in 2000. Garry Kennedy lives in Halifax.
Jury citation: “Garry Neill Kennedy is one of the most distinguished figures in Canadian art. Not only has he produced a body of conceptual painting that is recognized internationally, he was also instrumental in establishing an international reputation for the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, of which he was the innovative head for 23 years. Kennedy is an artist and philosopher at the same time, in that he critiques, or asks questions about, the nature, materials, processes and conventions of art. His art is laced with humour, irony and irreverence.”
John Oswald is, in the truest sense, a multi-disciplinary artist. A media/sound artist, composer, performance and dance artist, he defies categorization: everything is material for his art. He coined the term “plunderphonics” in the late 80s to describe his plundering, or appropriating, well-known music and images and manipulating them in original ways. Oswald has an international reputation as a leading contemporary composer. The Globe and Mail called his most recent work, Aparanthesi, a “mystical experience.” He premiered a solo dance opera Spinvolver (with Susanna Hood) in Berlin in 2003. He explores his electroacoustic creativity as Director of Research at Toronto’s Mystery Lab. John Oswald lives in Toronto.
Jury citation: “John Oswald has created an art - and vocabulary - of his own in his exceptional and innovative work as sound artist, image alchemist, composer and media artist. He is a master of extended-time morphing and a digitally-adept deconstructionist of sound and music. He is a prolific plunderer of all that’s available in modern culture. Oswald’s art, while often playful, is a serious examination of basic elements. His influence on an entire generation of artists and his international reputation attest to his free-ranging spirit of innovation and exploration.”
Ian Wallace received his master’s degree in art history from the University of British Columbia in 1968. Considered the ‘grandfather’ of conceptual art in Vancouver, he broke new ground in his approach to photography and painting. He taught at both UBC (1970-87) and at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (1972-98); he was an innovator, marrying art history with contemporary art and media. He has lectured and exhibited extensively in Europe (notably in France, Belgium, Italy and England), the U.S. and Canada. Through his lectures and writings he has influenced several generations of students at Emily Carr, UBC and beyond. Ian Wallace lives in Vancouver.
Jury citation: “Ian Wallace is a seminal figure in contemporary Canadian art. His photography extends beyond the documentary and achieves a reflective and abstract quality. His role in the development of conceptual art in Vancouver and his years as a teacher of art history, at the University of British Columbia and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, have had a wide-ranging influence on students and artists alike. As a lecturer and writer, he has made an enormous contribution as a cultural ambassador for Canada.”
Tom Hill has held prominent positions in the arts in Canada for over 30 years. As a curator, writer, art historian, volunteer and artist, he has played an influential role in the development of Aboriginal visual arts. A Konadaha Seneca, Hill studied at the Ontario College of Art; he also has a certificate in museum studies from the Ontario Museums Association. From his involvement in the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo ’67, he went on to become the first Aboriginal art curator in Canada. A tireless contributor to countless committees and boards, he has lectured and written extensively. Among his many awards is an honorary doctorate from Wilfrid Laurier University. He has been museum director at the Woodland Cultural Centre near Brantford for over 20 years. Tom Hill lives in Ohsweken, Ontario.
Jury citation: “Tom Hill’s many contributions to the art of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples and to building bridges between Aboriginal artists and the broader Canadian community are without equal. As a curator, writer, lecturer, art historian, cultural policy-maker and volunteer, he has played a crucial role that has been insightful and visionary. Hill’s tireless devotion reflects a generous spirit. His determined quest to “find balance” has served the arts well and inspired untold numbers of artists in several fields.”
Selection of laureates
The winners of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were chosen by an independent peer jury of visual and media artists and arts professionals from across Canada.
To be nominated for one of the six artistic awards, candidates must have created an outstanding body of work and have made a significant contribution to the development of the visual or media arts over a significant period of time. Professional artists are eligible for nominations in the following four categories: fine arts (painting and drawing, photography and print-making, and sculpture, including installation and other three-dimensional work); applied arts (architecture and fine crafts); independent film and video; and audio and new media. The laureates are selected from among the nominees by a jury of artists and visual and media arts professionals from across Canada.
The members of this year’s jury were artists Micheline Beauchemin (Les Grondines, QC), Evergon (Montreal), Edward Poitras (Regina), Tom Sherman (Syracuse, NY) and Takao Tanabe (Parksville, BC), and arts consultant Ian Lumsden (Fredericton).
Awards ceremony - March 10
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada will present the awards on Wednesday, March 10 at in the Ballroom of Rideau Hall (the residence of the Governor General in Ottawa), One Sussex Drive. Media wishing to cover the ceremony should contact the Press Office at Rideau Hall, (613) 998-7280.
Exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa.
The National Gallery of Canada will present an exhibition in celebration of the laureates and their works from March 12 to May 1, 2004. Media representatives are invited to attend the official opening on March 11 from in the Great Hall of the National Gallery,
Journalists wishing to preview the exhibition may do so on March 10 at Please contact Anouk Hoedeman at (613) 990-6835 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for this media preview.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Peter Milliken, will recognize the laureates in the House of Commons on Thursday March 11, immediately following Question Period.
For more information
Downloadable images of the artists and selected works are available on the Canada Council web site: www.canadacouncil.ca/prizes/ggvma.
Interviews with the laureates