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The Governor General’s Awards: Iconic Creators

TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto Feb 28 2012
Geoffrey James  <em>In front of the Gare St. Lazare, Paris</em> 1992 Courtesy the artist and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography Geoffrey James In front of the Gare St. Lazare, Paris 1992 Courtesy the artist and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography

Geoffrey James <em>In front of the Gare St. Lazare, Paris</em> 1992 Courtesy the artist and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography

The 2012 recipients of the prestigious Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were announced Tuesday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto; the awards, widely considered to be one of the highest achievements for veteran Canadian artists, were dispersed among practitioners of every genre.

Those who received awards this year were London-born painter Ron Martin, conceptual artist Jana Sterbak (who brought the meat dress into the popular imagination long before Lady Gaga), sculptor Royden Rabinowitch, Vancouver performance artist and writer Margaret Dragu, Toronto-based photographer Geoffrey James and Halifax professor and video/installation artist Jan Peacock.

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Geoffrey James Tango dancers, Havana 2010 Courtesy the artist
Geoffrey James <em>Tango dancers, Havana</em> 2010 Courtesy the artist
Geoffrey James Tango dancers, Havana 2010 Courtesy the artist
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Geoffrey James In front of the Gare St. Lazare, Paris 1992 Courtesy the artist and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography
Geoffrey James <em>In front of the Gare St. Lazare, Paris</em> 1992 Courtesy the artist and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography
Geoffrey James In front of the Gare St. Lazare, Paris 1992 Courtesy the artist and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography
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Geoffrey James Partial View of the United States-Mexico Border with Otay Mesa, San Diego County, in the Foreground and Mesa de Otay, Tijuana, in the Background 1997 Courtesy the artist
Geoffrey James <em>Partial View of the United States-Mexico Border with Otay Mesa, San Diego County, in the Foreground and Mesa de Otay, Tijuana, in the Background</em> 1997 Courtesy the artist
Geoffrey James Partial View of the United States-Mexico Border with Otay Mesa, San Diego County, in the Foreground and Mesa de Otay, Tijuana, in the Background 1997 Courtesy the artist
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Margaret Dragu as Lady Justice at a downtown Vancouver port, 2012 / photo Martin Lipman
Margaret Dragu as Lady Justice at a downtown Vancouver port, 2012 / photo Martin Lipman
Margaret Dragu as Lady Justice at a downtown Vancouver port, 2012 / photo Martin Lipman
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Margaret Dragu Pillowbook (Lady Justice channelling Mary Magdalene for a projection-performance about AIDS, guilt, and fear at Bain St-Michel, Montreal) 2006 / photo Guy L’Heureux
Margaret Dragu <em>Pillowbook</em> (Lady Justice channelling Mary Magdalene for a projection-performance about AIDS, guilt, and fear at Bain St-Michel, Montreal) 2006 / photo Guy L’Heureux
Margaret Dragu Pillowbook (Lady Justice channelling Mary Magdalene for a projection-performance about AIDS, guilt, and fear at Bain St-Michel, Montreal) 2006 / photo Guy L’Heureux
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Margaret Dragu (as Lady Justice) and the 7 Virtues/Vices, Rose Man and Coat Cooke performing for ROSE (Remember our Sisters Everywhere) on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre at Vancouver’s Thornton Park / photo Mikki Herbold
Margaret Dragu (as Lady Justice) and the 7 Virtues/Vices, Rose Man and Coat Cooke performing for ROSE (Remember our Sisters Everywhere) on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre at Vancouver’s Thornton Park / photo Mikki Herbold
Margaret Dragu (as Lady Justice) and the 7 Virtues/Vices, Rose Man and Coat Cooke performing for ROSE (Remember our Sisters Everywhere) on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre at Vancouver’s Thornton Park / photo Mikki Herbold
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Ron Martin All In One Series, Dog Fight No. 11 2008 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
Ron Martin <em>All In One Series, Dog Fight No. 11</em> 2008 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
Ron Martin All In One Series, Dog Fight No. 11 2008 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
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Ron Martin To Foil Oils, Phase III 1997 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
Ron Martin  <em>To Foil Oils, Phase III</em> 1997 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
Ron Martin To Foil Oils, Phase III 1997 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
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Ron Martin Bocour Rose Red #2 1972 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
Ron Martin  <em>Bocour Rose Red #2</em> 1972 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
Ron Martin Bocour Rose Red #2 1972 Courtesy Christopher Cutts Gallery
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Jan Peacock The Road Rises to Meet You 1986 Installation view / photo Douglas Curran
Jan Peacock <em>The Road Rises to Meet You</em> 1986 Installation view / photo Douglas Curran
Jan Peacock The Road Rises to Meet You 1986 Installation view / photo Douglas Curran
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Jan Peacock Turn to language 2012 Detail Courtesy the artist
Jan Peacock <em>Turn to language</em> 2012 Detail Courtesy the artist
Jan Peacock Turn to language 2012 Detail Courtesy the artist
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Royden Rabinowitch Open Ice – For Wayne Gretzky 1991 Courtesy Musée de Calais France
Royden Rabinowitch <em>Open Ice – For Wayne Gretzky</em> 1991 Courtesy Musée de Calais France
Royden Rabinowitch Open Ice – For Wayne Gretzky 1991 Courtesy Musée de Calais France
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Royden Rabinowitch Stan & Ollie or "The main reason each is incomplete is the existence of the other." – For Lee Smolin (E) 2011 Courtesy Hooft Collection, Ghent / photo Dirk Pauwels
Royden Rabinowitch <em>Stan & Ollie or &quot;The main reason each is incomplete is the existence of the other.&quot; – For Lee Smolin (E)</em> 2011 Courtesy Hooft Collection, Ghent / photo Dirk Pauwels
Royden Rabinowitch Stan & Ollie or "The main reason each is incomplete is the existence of the other." – For Lee Smolin (E) 2011 Courtesy Hooft Collection, Ghent / photo Dirk Pauwels
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Royden Rabinowitch Judgment on the Keplerian Revolution (at Furkapasshöhe, the Swiss Alps) 1983
Royden Rabinowitch <em>Judgment on the Keplerian Revolution</em> (at Furkapasshöhe, the Swiss Alps) 1983
Royden Rabinowitch Judgment on the Keplerian Revolution (at Furkapasshöhe, the Swiss Alps) 1983
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Jana Sterbak Acteon at Home 2005–11 / photo ©Jana Sterbak
Jana Sterbak <em>Acteon at Home</em> 2005–11 / photo ©Jana Sterbak
Jana Sterbak Acteon at Home 2005–11 / photo ©Jana Sterbak
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Jana Sterbak Atlas 2002 Courtesy AFFA Paris / photo ©Jana Sterbak
Jana Sterbak <em>Atlas</em> 2002 Courtesy AFFA Paris / photo ©Jana Sterbak
Jana Sterbak Atlas 2002 Courtesy AFFA Paris / photo ©Jana Sterbak
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Charles Lewton-Brain Chased face 1977 / photo courtesy the artist
Charles Lewton-Brain  <em>Chased face</em> 1977 / photo courtesy the artist
Charles Lewton-Brain Chased face 1977 / photo courtesy the artist
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Charles Lewton-Brain Scored disc 1987 / photo courtesy the artist
Charles Lewton-Brain <em>Scored disc</em> 1987 / photo courtesy the artist
Charles Lewton-Brain Scored disc 1987 / photo courtesy the artist
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Charles Lewton-Brain "Tracks" B669 (from the Cage series) 2005 / photo courtesy the artist
Charles Lewton-Brain <em>&quot;Tracks&quot; B669</em> (from the <em>Cage</em> series)  2005 / photo courtesy the artist
Charles Lewton-Brain "Tracks" B669 (from the Cage series) 2005 / photo courtesy the artist

Honoured with the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in the fine crafts is Calgarian and master goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain, while Diana Nemiroff, formerly a curator at the National Gallery of Canada for more than 20 years, and currently director of the Carleton University Art Gallery, took home the award for Outstanding Contribution to contemporary visual arts.

A related exhibition of works by the winners opens March 30 at the National Gallery of Canada, where it runs until June 17. A survey screening of Peacock’s video art will also take place March 21 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

This article was first published online on March 1, 2012.

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