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Rodney Graham wins B.C.'s Audain art prize

Vancouver's Rodney Graham has won the Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in visual arts, given annually in recognition of a contemporary B.C. artist.
Vancouver's Rodney Graham discusses his life in visual art, which won him B.C.'s $30,000 Audain Prize. 4:10

Vancouver's Rodney Graham has won the Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in visual arts, given annually in recognition of a contemporary B.C. artist.

The $30,000 prize from the Audain Foundation was announced Tuesday, along with the $10,000 VIVA Awards, which go to emerging artists Reece Terris and Althea Thauberger for 2011.

Graham, born in Abbotsford, B.C., works in film, video, painting and photography. His work has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Vancouver Art Gallery mounted a 2005 exhibition of his work, Rodney Graham: A Little Thought, which toured internationally.

Rodney Graham's artworks, intellectual and often humorous, include this 2009 piece titled Artist Model Posing for The Old Bugler, Among the Fallen, Battle of Beaune-Roland, 1870 in the Studio of an Unknown Military Painter, Paris 1885. (Vancouver Art Gallery)

Intellectual and often humorous, Graham's works make cultural references to diverse sources such as Lewis Carroll, Sigmund Freud and Kurt Cobain. In his video workVexation Islandhe appears as a shipwrecked pirate who awakens on an island, shakes a tree and is knocked out by a falling coconut. Other photos and videos have shown him as a lighthouse keeper, a cowboy or an aging playboy.

Graham represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1997, exhibited at the international art exhibition Documenta IX in 1992 and at Sculpture Project Muenster in 1987.

VIVA winners

The VIVA Awards, presented by the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts, recognize B.C. artists who demonstrate exceptional creative ability and commitment.

Terris, based in Vancouver, is a sculptor and installation artist known for the six-storey apartment building he created inside the rotunda of the VAG. His pieces play with expectations by shifting the scale or context of an environment.

Not afraid to die, 2001 (still, detail), 5 minutes, 35 seconds is an image from Althea Thauberger's series exploring the emotional states of adolescent girls. (Vancouver Art Gallery)
His works have included Trivial Pursuit/Trailer, an RV cut in half to show the interior  complete with the board game in mid-play  and Bridge, in which he built a bridge from one home's balcony to another.

Thauberger, also based in Vancouver, has created a series of theatrical performance installations and photographs showing the emotional states of adolescent girls.

She also is a war artist who travelled to Kandahar in 2009 as part of the Canadian Forces Artist Program. There, she worked with soldiers and their families to create works that show the human side of military subjects, including photos of military men and women in the field and a choral performance by home-front military wives.

Her massive photo mural of a military explosives exercise was installed at a library at University of British Columbia.

The Audain Prize and the VIVA Award will be presented May 5 at the VAG in Vancouver.