Jin-Me Yoon Wins the 12th Annual Scotiabank Photography Award

In an incredible space on the second floor of the Scotia Plaza, artists, family, friends, and judges celebrated the nominees for the 2022 Scotiabank Photography Award. The room vibrated with chatter as the attendees mingled with old friends, excited to be together in one room for the first time in three years. The shortlist nominees’ (Jin-me Yoon, Shannon Bool, and Barbara Astman) work was projected onto the back wall, bright and big, showcasing the talent and beauty being honoured.

Jin-me Yoon

The 2022 Scotiabank Photography Award is a prestigious award co-found 12 years ago by renowned environmentalist photographer Edward Burtynsky as a gesture to Canadian mid-to-late career artists; to honour and showcase their work. The award grants its winner a $50,000 prize, an exhibition at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, and their work published by Steidl of Germany. The runner-ups also each receive a $10,000 prize.

Sadly, shortlist nominee Shannon Bool was unable to attend but shortlist nominee Barbara Astman was there to cheer and hug her colleague Jin-me Yoon as she walked onstage to accept the 12th annual Scotiabank Photography Award. Comradery between artists felt warm to witness as the event-goers avidly listened to Jin-me Yoon’s speech. It was a beautiful moment to watch a woman of immense talent and vision receive the recognition she deserves with over thirty years as a photographer and a history of over 200 solo and group exhibitions across continents.

Jin-me Yoon could not be more ecstatic about this new chapter of recognition, “I’m at a very exciting moment in my life […] things are kind of synergizing. Also, because I had my Hwangap, I have other responsibilities, but I have also been levitated of certain responsibilities. I have a lot more time to make art, just to be joyful, it’s so fun. It’s wonderful just being in the process without all the contingencies of life.” She says, “I recently turned 61, and in Korean culture, when you turn 61, you go through the five cycles of the lunar calendar – Hwangap – it means that you have different responsibilities and that’s to a future generation. So, that motivates my work.

Jin-me Yoon 2

Jin-me Yoon’s work dissects popular discourse on gender and sexuality, culture and ethnicity, citizenship and nationhood. She pulls from her parents’ journey, “My family is a major piece of who I am […] my parents lived through Japanese colonialism, the Korean war, and saw the separation of the peninsula and we also came to a country, Canada, and we weren’t invited here by the indigenous people. Canada [was] very different from how we understand it today. Understanding is the real challenge but also such an opportunity for a transformed relationship [with] each other and that’s the basis of my work.”

Jin-me Yoon also expressed humility saying she was inspired by her colleagues, “I know despite our different conceptual strategies, […] how we work within mixed medias, and different mediums, that every artist pulls it out of their body and that’s not easy to do and I want to honour that.”

This event was also significant because it marked the end of Sophie Hackett’s term as a juror for the award. Having spent the last two terms remote and unable to celebrate in person, Sophie expressed immense gratitude, “to celebrate, to be in a room with the artists in question, it is particularly special to be here today just with all of you.”