South Australian artist, Dr Christian Thompson AO, has won the $30,000 2020 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize for this ‘epic’ four-panel work, Rule of three (2020).
Thompson was born in Gawler, South Australia, and is a Bidjara man of the Kunja Nation from south‐west Queensland. He also has German-Jewish heritage.
Formally trained as a sculptor, Thompson’s multidisciplinary practice uses numerous artistic mediums to explore identity, sexuality, gender, race and memory. He has a particular focus on examining the ‘inconsistencies and misrepresentations of Aboriginality by the dominant culture’.
MGA director and contest judge, Anouska Phizacklea, described Rule of three as a ‘monumental, compelling and poignant masterpiece’.
‘In a year full of challenges with a pandemic that transformed our society, the works all reflect and respond to our environment, our history and our place within it,’ she said. ‘Christian 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. It is drawn from a body of work that contributes to the considerable weight to his sustained practice of integrating photography and lens based practice with performative and gestural interventions. It is a timely and worthy acknowledgement.’
Thompson is honoured to win the prize. ‘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. Thank you for this acknowledgement.’
The judging panel consisted of Phizacklea, Hobart-based photographer Fiona Hall, and National Gallery of Australia senior curator Shaune Lakin.
The finalist images are showing in an exhibition at the Monash Gallery of Art until February 7. Or view the virtual exhibition here.
Here are the secondary prize winners.
Colour Factory Honourable Mentions