September 26, 2011 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Ron Bourgeois, Chair of the Nova Scotia Masterworks Awards Foundation announced today the five finalists in contention for the $25,000 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Award. The prize will be presented at the Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala on Friday, Oct. 28, at the Cunard Centre in Halifax. The five finalists in competition this year represent three different fields: media and recording arts (2), visual arts (2), and design arts (1). Five Canadian artists formed a multidisciplinary jury working at arms-length from the Foundation to select the winning works. This year, four of the finalists will receive $3000. The winner will receive $25,000, bringing the total to $37,000, among the largest artistic awards in Canada.
“I believe it is important to recognize excellence in the arts and the way in which it adds to the cultural richness of our province and its people” said the Honourable Mayann E. Francis, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. “Certainly, the Masterworks Arts Awards have done much to bring attention to our home grown artists and their contribution to our identity.”
The finalists for 2011 are (in alphabetical order by title):
88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the left hand)
(Media and Recording Arts)
David Clark’s 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the left hand) is a highly sophisticated yet playful and accessible digital web work exploring the life and work of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Displaying dazzling technical skill, this elegant, feature-length work employs flash animation to create a rhizome-like network of visual, musical and narrative vignettes that viewers can navigate at their own pace. 88 Constellations was released online in 2008, and has been publicly presented in numerous national and international exhibitions and festivals of electronic art, garnering critical praise as “a rapturous virtuosic labyrinth that confounds, nourishes and provokes.”
(Visual Arts – photography)
Susan McEachern’s Equine Studies is a technically impeccable and conceptually layered photographic series that explores social and historical aspects of the animal-human relationship. Prompted by the artist’s personal experiences with her own daughter’s passionate yet disciplined involvement in horse riding, the three sections of Equine Studies—Herbivores, Still Seeking Athena and Fight/Flight—combine large-scale colour prints and subtle texts. They summon questions of gender, class and competitiveness (whether in current leisure pursuits, military history or ancient mythology) while portraying the strength, intelligence, grace and control required in any equestrian endeavour. The complete series was exhibited in Ottawa in January 2011.
(Media and Recording Arts)
Investigation 1 is an intriguing interdisciplinary project combining the handiness of do-it-yourself culture with the sophistication of new media, organized by Tim Dallett and Adam Kelly (for The Artifact Institute) and originally presented at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. In a unique blend of relational aesthetics and institutional critique, creators/performers Dallett and Kelly engage the public in documenting, conserving and repurposing over 1,000 discarded electronic devices collected from arts and cultural organizations across Halifax. Investigation 1 has been presented in several venues, achieving considerable public response and motivating visitors to think and talk about sustainability and the ethics of built-in obsolescence in new media.
(Visual Arts – mixed media installation)
Susan Feindel’s installation See Below offers a total immersive experience of the deep ocean environment through a group of huge black and white canvases (based on sonar side-scan imagery) covering the floor of a dimly-lit gallery, with an ambient sound-scape and small pin-pricked map drawings illuminated from beneath. Original in conception and execution, the installation combines science, technology and art, dramatically invoking the ecological fragility of the oceans off Canada’s Eastern continental shelf, and, by inference, around the globe. See Below was a Finalist for the Masterworks Award in 2009, and has since been presented in the Ottawa Art Gallery (2010) and MSVU Art Gallery has published an extensive illustrated catalogue about it.
The Warming Hut
The Warming Hut is an innovative architectural space created by Sarah Bonnemaison and Robin Muller (for Architextile Lab) as a temporary shelter for skaters at the Oval on the Halifax Common in the winter of 2011. This exciting tipi-like structure employs various technologies to warm and delight the user, including seats woven from heated straps, mittens that transmute the visitor’s heartbeat to an audio pulse, and a huge, magical, softly flashing snowflake chandelier. Fun, functional, and aesthetically engaging, the glowing structure was enjoyed by many thousands of winter visitors and enthusiastically covered by local and international newsmedia.
Images of the short listed works are on the Foundation website: www.nsmasterworks.ca. The Award recognizes the excellence and creation of a particular work of art or performance of art, which has made a significant impact in its public presentation, and contributed to the historical development and contemporary practice of the art form. It is sponsored by The Province of Nova Scotia, The Craig Foundation, Scotiabank, The Coast and Stewart McKelvey.
For further information and hi-res photos:
Judy Campbell, Nova Scotia Masterworks Awards Foundation, (902) 429-3788