Caroline Monnet, an artist born in Ottawa and raised in Gatineau’s Aylmer neighbourhood, is among the 25 artists who will each receive a Sobey Art Award of $25,000.
The Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada, which jointly administer the annual contemporary art prize, announced their decision and the 25 longlisted artists on Wednesday.
“Obviously it’s very great news in these uncertain times. It alleviates a little bit of the pressure for sure,” Monnet told CBC’s All in a Day on Thursday.
“It’s an exemplary move.”
Normally the prize’s winner receives $100,000 but this year, with uncertainty around the pandemic, the award committee decided it would help artists more if each received $25,000.
“The fundamental mission of the Sobey art foundation is to support contemporary artists across the country,” said Sasha Suda, CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.
“It was pretty clear that they need that support now.”
Monnet is currently working on a French and Anishinabemowin film called Bootlegger.
While she worries about any long-term shutdowns to exhibitions and gallery shows, she said the outbreak is giving her time to put a final polish on the film.
“As artists we do need exhibitions, we do need gatherings, we do need people to come and see the work. It doesn’t have the same sense of purpose if it’s all online.”
Suda too, worries about the effect of physical distancing on the art world.
“It’s certainly challenging to know where we’ll be on the other side of this when we don’t know when it will end,” she said.
“This is tough.”
For now, Suda says it brings a sense of calm to the staff and herself at the National Gallery to look at Monnet’s work still exhibited there, Transatlantic and Proximal I, II, III, IV, V.
“It offers a physical experience but also it can be quite transcendental,” she said.
The exhibit includes spheres as well as a film Monnet made while travelling across the Atlantic on a cargo ship.
Monnet is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2017 most promising project recognition at the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Sheaf Award for best experimental film and the Walter Phillips Gallery Indigenous Commission Award.