Shortlist for the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize announced

Four extraordinary international photographers were recently selected as finalists for the 2013 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize, Canada’s leading award for contemporary photography and the first major art prize in the world whose winner is chosen entirely by public vote. Voting opened last week at and, for the first time, on Facebook at

The finalists, selected by jury from a long list of 14 artists, are: Edgardo Aragón (Mexico), LaToya Ruby Frazier (USA), Chino Otsuka (Japan/UK) and Erin Shirreff (Canada). As a group, these four artists represent a snapshot of current directions in photography and video in which images are used to build powerful, complex and often personal narratives.

Edgardo Aragón was born in Mexico, and his work invites reflection on the history of violence in his homeland. Deeply engaged with political and social histories of Oaxaca, the province where he was born and still lives, his video and photography often document performance and sculptural interventions against landscapes that appear at once serene and foreboding.

LaToya Ruby Frazier was born and raised in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Her work is informed by late 19th- and early 20th-century modes of representation in documentary practice. She uses the conventions of social documentary and portraiture to expose untold stories of post-industrial decline in the United States, filtered through the experiences of her own family and community in Braddock.

Chino Otsuka born in Tokyo and moved to the UK at age 10 to attend school. Often mining her own autobiography, Otsuka uses photography and video to explore the fluid relationship between memory, time and photography.

Erin Shirreff was born in 1975 in Kelowna, BC, and now lives and works in New York. Her work interweaves photography, video and sculpture to extend and explore the act of looking, asking questions about the often paradoxical relationship between time and space and the image, and the impact of perception on the location of meaning.

A jury of three — comprising lead juror Elizabeth Smith, former AGO executive director of curatorial affairs and current executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York; Urs Stahel, director, curator, and editor of Fotomuseum Winterthur; and artist Kader Attia — selected the four finalists from the long list.

“The jurors were delighted with the strength and diversity of the long-listed artists,” said Smith. “In choosing the four finalists, we responded most to qualities that made the work fresh, powerful and original in some way. We looked for strength, coherence and consistency in the interplay of imagery and content and selected the artists whose work made the most pronounced impact on all of us.”

An exhibition of works by the four shortlisted artists, curated by Smith, opens at the AGO on September 11, 2013. A free public launch party that night features presentations by nominators and members of the jury about each of the four artists.

The following evening, September 12, 2013, at 7:00pm, the four artists will speak at a special panel event at the AGO alongside Smith; AGO associate curator of photography Sophie Hackett; and nominators Jennifer Blessing, senior curator of photography at the Guggenheim in New York; and Helga Pakasaar, curator at Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver.

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