INDIA CANADA PHOTOGRAPHY ART PRIZE
Indian photographers Gauri Gill and Nandini Valli make up one half of the 2011 finalist selection for the Canadian-based, internationally focused The Grange Prize, the country’s largest cash art award and the only one in which the winner is decided by public vote.
Gauri Gill was born in Chandigarh, India, in 1970, and currently resides in New Delhi. Gill was educated first at the Delhi College of Art, then at Parsons in New York and at Stanford University in California. She began exhibiting in 2007, and since then has held numerous solo exhibitions in India, America and Europe, the most recent being “What Remains” at Green Cardamom Gallery in London in 2011.
The jury said of her nomination for the prize:
Gill’s practice is complex because it contains several seemingly discrete lines of pursuit. These include her more than a decade long study of marginalised communities in Rajasthan, of women from different generations and their often tentative encounter with modernity. She has also investigated and recorded issues around migrancy, and the decrepitude and change generated by an expanding city. Working in both black and white as well as colour, she seeks out the narratives of ordinary heroism within challenging environments. Gill’s work also addresses the twinned Indian identity markers of class and community as determinants of mobility and social behaviour. In these works there is irony, a rugged documentary spirit and a human concern over issues of survival.
Nandini Valli was born in 1976, and raised in Chennai, India, where she continues to live and work. Initially working as an apprentice to a commercial photographer, it was not until she made the decision to pursue a degree in photography from the Arts University College in Bournemouth, UK, that she realised she was more suited to producing art photographs. She has been showing her work publicly since 2007 and is currently represented by Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai.
The jury said of her nomination for the prize:
One of the less historicised, recently celebrated strains in Indian photography is the performative photograph. Nandini Valli Muthiah has rapidly emerged as one of its foremost exponents. Nandini draws upon a long, established tradition in Indian popular art, the hyperrealist painted calendar poster of the gods. It is a widely recognised style, one that incorporates traditional painting and the painted photograph within a ‘mythologised’ space. The element of subversion lies in the way in which the heroic figure is represented within normal or ‘modern’ environments. A blue-bodied god in a hotel room, or young girls masquerading as Indira Gandhi at a fancy dress show, are comments on India’s perception of the heroic as much as on middle-class aspirations. Nandini Valli Muthiah approaches photography much like a cinema auteur, constructing every aspect of her frame. Her work shows a mature and ironic understanding of a shifting aesthetic field and value system in an increasingly globalising India.
The nominating jury was made up of four art professionals, two each from India and Canada, and included Michelle Jacques, AGO acting curator of Canadian Art, Wayne Baerwaldt, acting vice president of research and academic affairs at Alberta College of Art + Design, Gayatri Sinha, a Delhi-based art critic and curator, and Sunil Gupta, a photographer, writer and curator born in India and living in New Delhi and London.
Work by The Grange Prize finalists is on show in Canada until 27 November 2011, and the winner, who will take home CAD50,000, will be announced on 2 November 2011. The Grange Prize was founded in 2008 and each year since has selected four finalists, two each from Canada and a partner country.
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