'Monumental' image takes out $30,000 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize
Photographer and multimedia artist Dr Christian Thompson AO has been announced as the 2020 Bowness Photography Prize winner, with his 'monumental' work ‘Rule of three’ taking home $30,000 in the annual acqusitive photographic prize.
Thompson is a Bidjara man of the Kunja Nation from south-west Queensland; he is also of German-Jewish heritage. His multidisciplinary practice uses photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound to examine the inconsistencies and misrepresentations of Aboriginality by the dominant culture.
This is the fourth year Thompson has been selected as a finalist (2009, 2012, 2017 and 2020), and in 2012 he was awarded an Honourable Mention.
Over the last 15 years the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize has emerged as an important annual survey of contemporary photographic practice in Australia and one of the most prestigious prizes in the country.
The judging panel – artist Fiona Hall, NGA Senior Curator of Photography, Dr Shaune Lakin, and MGA Director, Anouska Phizacklea – met to view the works in January as the restrictions lifted to discuss the final selection, eventually narrowing the shortlist down to four exceptional works to commend.
Anouska Phizacklea says Thompson’s ‘Rule of three’ is a "monumental, compelling, and poignant masterpiece that speaks to the complexity and historical legacies of Indigenous representation, cultural identity and Indigenous voices with a contemporaneity that catapults the work into another stratosphere."
Speaking about his win, Thompson says he was 'honoured to be the winner this year'.
"This year was a really dynamic year and it was a pleasure to exhibit alongside members of the photographic community and to witness the breadth, resonance, importance and power of photography today – an enduring medium in our increasingly globalised world, a space for a quiet moment," he says.
Honourable mentions have been awarded to Chris Barry for her intimate portraits titled ‘The Boko family, in situ’ (2020), Janina Green for her exquisite hand-coloured gelatin silver print ‘Two women (back view)’ (2019) and Ponch Hawkes for her humorous take on isolation with her work ‘Isolation husband’ (2020).
The 2020 Smith & Singer People’s Choice Award recipient is Zoe Arnott for her work that reflects on the challenges of keeping in touch with family during Melbourne’s lockdown ‘Max at 99’ (2020).
The annual exhibition runs until 7 February. You can find out more details here.