In 2011 the Scotiabank Photography Award was established, conceived by the hard work of Jane Nokes, Exec. Director, SPA; Director Fine Art Collection and Corp. Archives, Scotiabank and renowned photographer Ed Burtynsky. The artful duo wanted the award to not only spotlight important Canadian photographers but be like no other award. As Jane and Ed discussed their vision the decision that the prize would be not only cash but a book of the artist's work and an exhibit. Scotiabank agreed with Nokes and Burtynsky and thus the SPA award was established. As the jurors discussed the shortlist last year there was one clear winner, Lynne Cohen. For Cohen winning the largest annual peer reviewed art award in Canada it was an not only an honour but the chance for her work to enter the spotlight in a way few artistic photographers can achieve.
Nokes is proud of the work that Scotiabank has done in the art world saying that the bank has worked hard to bring art to everyone, not just the privileged. While the bank deserves much credit Nokes herself is one of the leading motivators behind the scenes. Her love of art and the artist has made events like Nuit Blanche and the SPA prize possible.
For Ed Burtynsky the key to this award is that the winner has their art published in an art book. Burtynsky can attest from his own career that having a book that curators can put their hands on is a career changer.
On May 3 the Design Exchange in Toronto opens Lynne Cohen: Nothing is Hidden to the public. This free exhibit comes on the heels of Cohen's book by the same name and gives visitors a chance to study the Montreal artist's photographic tales of domestic and institutional interior spaces.
Cohen's art focuses on raw interior without human subjects but with a human touch. Each piece of her collection shows unstaged reality that at times appears to be surreal. From the inside bunker of a paintball facility to the calming baths of a spa each photograph brings an element of how we live.
Cohen began her journey in photography in the early 1970's focusing on the strangeness and contradictions of the everyday world. Cohen sees humour in her art which has been discussed as heavy handed.
"My pictures have no people in them," when asked why this is Cohen quipped, "where would I put them?"
Early on Cohen found her locations window peeping. Now she searches on the internet for the locations which have taken her around the world. Her work is universal, those made in Venice could have as easily been shoot in America or Canada. Her early work was mostly shoot in black and white but today she mainly uses colour photography. Cohen continues to work, finding art in everyday life. She took her first ever vacation last year after falling ill on doctor's orders. Cohen's work will be on view daily until June 30.
Design Exchange, 234 Bay St. Toronto.
Mon. - Fri. 10:00a.m. - 5:00p.m.
Sat./Sun. 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Free admission courtesy Scotiabank.