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Exploring our relationship to technology, to language, to bodies, to belonging, to physical space: The 2018 Sobey Art Award exhibition opens October 3 in Ottawa

  • The 2018 Sobey Art Award exhibition features works by the five artists shortlisted for the 2018 Sobey Art Award

  • On view from October 3, 2018 until February 10, 2019. Free with admission to National Gallery of Canada

  • The winner of the 2018 Sobey Art Award will be announced at the National Gallery of Canada November 14, 2018

OTTAWA, October 02, 2018 – Work created by the five finalists for the 2018 Sobey Art Award is the focus of the new contemporary art exhibition opening at the National Gallery of Canada on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. Joi T. Arcand, Jordan Bennett, Kapwani Kiwanga, Jeneen Frei Njootli and Jon Rafman present works that explore Cree syllabics and public space, kinship, land and belonging, the effects of architecture on behaviour, the evocative power of sound and materials, surreal narratives, and immersive video installations.

“Contemporary artists in Canada are producing work that is intelligent, engaged, striking and responsive to the world in which we live. This year’s shortlist is no exception, and represents the breadth of accomplished practices from across the country. With practices that include video, performance, sound and installation, this year’s exhibition provides a strong overview of approaches at the forefront of contemporary art,” says Marc Mayer, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.

The Sobey Art Award was created in 2002 by the Sobey Art Foundation to celebrate artists age 40 and under who have exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. A jury of seasoned curators, including an international juror, selects 25 artists from the submitted nominations – five from each designated region of Canada – for the longlist. One artist from each region is then selected by the jury for the shortlist, ensuring the breadth of contemporary practices from across the country are represented.

In this year’s exhibition, Jeneen Frei Njootli, the finalist from the West Coast and Yukon, activates objects through performance and sound, leaving only traces of her gestures to resist the evocative power of sound and materials. Joi T. Arcand, representing the Prairies and the North, uses Cree syllabics to intervene into public and architectural space and imagine a world where Indigenous languages are present and powerful. Representing Ontario, Kapwani Kiwanga explores the effects of colour and institutional architecture, questioning how they are used to shape or control behaviour. Jon Rafman, who represents Quebec, creates immersive video installations, drawing from online communities and platforms to create surreal narratives that question our relationship to technology. And Atlantic Canada’s Jordan Bennett blends technology and his Mi’kmaq worldview to speak about kinship, land and belonging in his installations.

Presented annually, the Sobey Art Award provides significant financial recognition and professional support to some of Canada’s most exciting young artists. The $240,000 prize money is divided among the 25 nominated artists - $100,000 for the winner, $25,000 for the four shortlisted finalists, and $2,000 each for the longlisted artists. In 2018, the Sobey Art Award was expanded to include international art residencies for three of the longlisted artists, raising the total value of the Sobey Art Award to $315,000 CAD.

“In 2018, the Sobey Art Award embarked on an important new journey in its mission to support contemporary Canadian artists. This past year, the Award has seen its prize purse increase and international residencies added, to further enhance opportunities for Canadian artists,” says Rob Sobey, Chairman of the Sobey Art Foundation. “The Sobey Art Foundation and the Sobey family look forward to continuing to celebrate the achievements of young artists, to facilitate dialogue, and to share our passion for Canadian art on the national and international stage for many years to come.”

The winner of the Sobey Art Award will be announced at the National Gallery of Canada on November 14, 2018.

The 2018 Sobey Art Award exhibition, which continues at the Gallery until February 10, 2019, is presented with the generous support of the Sobey Art Award Foundation.

Follow #SobeyArtAward for updates.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual illustrated booklet, published by the National Gallery of Canada, and features photographs of the artists and their work, and essays by each of the jury members: Heather Igloliorte, Jean-François Bélisle, November Paynter, Kristy Trinier and Melanie O’Brian, as well as an essay by International Juror, Séamus Kealy. The publication is free and available at the Boutique and online at

About the 2018 Shortlisted Artists

About the 2018 International Jury

About the Sobey Art Award

About the Sobey Art Foundation

About the National Gallery of Canada

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For all media enquiries, please contact:
Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada

Bernard Doucet
Sobey Art Foundation
902.752.8371, ext. 2301






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