Adding another award to his recent trove, thoughtful multimedia artist aAron Munson has taken the $10,000 Eldon + Anne Foote Edmonton Visual Arts Prize for his haunting show Isachsen, an exhibition sparked by his father’s isolation at remote weather station of the same name in the Canadian north.Heavily bundled against subzero temperatures, Munson flew to the desolate and long-abandoned camp years after his father’s stay with just a guide, armed against polar bears they never encountered. (Full story here.)Staged at the always ambitious commercial gallery DC3 Art Projects, the contemporary exhibition was breached through a giant fabric parka hood, symbolically getting inside the head of Munson’s father’s trauma at the edge of suicidal depression, starting with his framed diary entries.In the darkened gallery space set up better than most museums, backlit photos of the abandoned station showed a former outpost in its long process of being reclaimed by staggeringly beautiful masses of ice, snow and black mould. A shed re-created by Edmonton film industry MacGuyver Larry Kelly contained Munson’s virtual reality, 360-degree movie of the empty camp, while a sculptural projection placed the artist’s father’s ghostlike image once again in a place that changed him forever. Over the sound system, the wind howled without respite. Artists David Hoffos, Dara Humniski and Gary James Joynes all collaborated crucially.“The aim I have with all my work is to open up difficult conversations,” said Munson after winning the prize. “With Isachsen, it’s a beautiful and haunting backdrop to have a conversation that’s relevant to everyone — anyone anywhere can feel that level of isolation.“In an age where we tend to communicate digitally instead of face to face and physically, the more we rely more on social media to communicate with one another, the more we can feel physically isolated from one another. It’s not all bad, we can connect in a way we never could before — but also fell isolated in a way we never have before.”Says Munson of his show exploring these states of isolation, “It took so many people: The support of the Edmonton Arts Council and Alberta Foundation for the Arts. And of course the other artists.“I think we all brought out the best in each other.”
A photo by aAron Munson taken up at the abandoned Isachsen weather research base in northern Nunavut.
aAron Munson /
He stresses his thanks to DC3’s visionary owner-curator David Candler, noting,“You’re having possibly a difficult experience going through it and that’s not necessarily going to encourage people to buy art.”Of the prize money he says, “Everything that comes in goes into the next thing.”On that, Munson is having a new photography show at The Front Gallery June 6 which will include a few of the Isachsen pieces.
aAron Munson with his collaboration with Mark Pritchard Under the Sun at Dyscorpia.
David Bloom /
A show he’s currently featured in — Dyscorpia, in the Enterprise Square gallery — has just been extended, running Friday – Sunday every weekend through mid June, then included in The Works Art & Design Festival through July 2.The busy 37-year-old artist recently won notable awards in the film world — a Canadian Screen Award as a cinematographer on Kyle Armstrong’s Until First Light, and a Rosie alongside Daron Donahue for their work behind the camera on Niobe Thompson’s Boy Nomad — as well as another CSA for their cinematography on Equus: Story of the Horse.“I’m not big on trophies and prizes,” says Munson, “but I feel honoured.“You look at the careers of some of these other artists and I’m just starting out in some ways. It means a lot.”Shortlisted, Clay Ellis and Brenda Malkinson took home the short list prize of $1,000 each for their respective shows at Peter Robertson Gallery and Alberta Craft Gallery.Munson joins previous Foote top prizewinners including Sean Caulfield, Paul Freeman, Julian Forrest and Gillian Willans.“I’m very thankful for the support we get as artists living here,” he says. “Other cities don’t have that, often. There’s a huge amount of opportunity here to do great things and to do what I think art is meant to do.“Artists are here to work, and I want to collaborate more and encourage each other to make better and more exceptional work.”firstname.lastname@example.org@fisheyefoto