Home » Who will Win the 2012 Sobey Art Prize?

Who will Win the 2012 Sobey Art Prize?

I visited the annual exhibition of five finalists in Canada’s $50,000 Sobey Art Prize today, which is about to open at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art on Oct 24th and will continue to December 30th. (A launch party will be held on October 27 from 8-10pm.) As always, one artist has been shortlisted from each of Canada’s regions: West Coast/Yukon; Prairies and the North; Ontario; Quebec and Atlantic.


Gareth Moore, Recollection of a Path…from Uncertain Pilgrimmage, 2006-2009. All images: VoCA

They are: Raphaelle de Groot (Quebec), Jason de Haan (Prairies/North), Eleanor King (Atlantic), Derek Sullivan (Ontario) and Gareth Moore (West Coast/Yukon). It’s always nice to see work by some of the best young artists from across the country in one show. And it’s amazing of the Sobey Art Foundation to support the arts this way. Although the works were still being installed when I was there, this year one thing that struck me is how in some way, each of the artist’s practices  have their roots outside the gallery setting. That is, instead of the work moving from studio to museum, it’s as if it has moved from the larger outside world into the museum. In that sense, it seems to sit a bit awkwardly. But the curator Sarah Fillmore has created a sophisticated-looking exhibition, so aesthetically I thought it looked great.


A work by Raphaelle de Groot.


A still from a video by Raphaelle de Groot.

The art prize is chosen by five curators, based on the practice of each artist, not just one or two particular works. At first, I found it challenging to assess the exhibition just on the individual works, but once I did a walk through with Fillmore, it became easier. I was most intrigued by the work of three of the five artists. Quebec artist Raphaelle de Groot bases much of her work in communities, where she engages with people – in the case of her work on view, she had accumulated objects from people that she had sewn into a kind of magical looking coat. Though I felt that her piece, which was titled ‘Le Poids des Objets’ (the weight of objects) could have carried a little more…weight.


Two sculptural works by Derek Sullivan.


More work by Derek Sullivan.

I’ve known Derek Sullivan for several years and find his work to be highly conceptual, but in a sort of maximalist kind of way. I have always admired the participatory piece Endless Kiosk, for which two smaller, moquette-like sculptures were represented here. The effect of Endless Kiosk is to extend the work by  the famous sculptor Brancusi, Endless Column, by conflating it with the traditional advertising kiosks of Paris. The public is invited to attach their own posters and stickers to the column so that it grows in width, rather than height. I must admit that Sullivan’s other work in the Sobey exhibition sort of  eluded me.

My feeling, however, is that the top prize may go to Berlin-based artist Gareth Moore.


Gareth Moore installing his work.


Another piece by Gareth Moore.

His practice involves traveling and journeying, learning and meeting people and picking up or exchanging objects along the way. It’s also building and living and imbuing life with art, and vice versa. It’s a global, experiential practice – echoing the way galleries and artists have been spreading their careers around the globe – and it’s elegant.  Not that you would know that from the work on view. It came across to me in the gallery as sort of Joesph Beuys lite. But once you learn about his practice, it really opens up and becomes very interesting, almost magical. The suitcase piece in the last photo is an artwork for the future – he includes various elements in the suitcase, along with $500 for someone, one day, to create their own work of art. Although again, I found that his practice is larger than a museum setting, and his work felt a bit awkward inside of one, I like the sense of discomfort that comes through of his work: it’s not too safe. And I think that’s very important.

One Response to “Who will Win the 2012 Sobey Art Prize?”

  1. Wes Cameron says:

    Those dreads really are a testament to Gareth’s journey.

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