Auckland Art Gallery MEDIA RELEASE
Friday 23 April 2010
The nominees for New Zealand’s most important award for contemporary art have been decided.
The $50,000 Walters Prize is awarded for an outstanding work of contemporary New Zealand art produced and exhibited during the past two years. Previous winners were Yvonne Todd for Asthma and Eczema (2002), et al. for restricted access (2004), Francis Upritchard for Doomed, Doomed, All Doomed (2006) and Peter Robinson for ACK (2008).
Named in honour of the late New Zealand artist Gordon Walters, the prize was established in 2002 by founding benefactors and principal donors Erika and Robin Congreve and Dame Jenny Gibbs, working together with the Auckland Art Gallery. The Prize set out to make contemporary art a more widely recognised and debated feature of our cultural life.
FINALISTS FOR THE WALTERS PRIZE 2010 Dan Arps: Explaining Things shown at Gambia Castle, Auckland (7-24 December 2008) Fiona Connor: Something Transparent (please go round the back) shown at Michael Lett, Auckland (15 April – 16 May 2009) Saskia Leek: Yellow is the Putty of the World shown at Ivan Anthony, Auckland (25 November – 23 December 2009) Alex Monteith: Passing Manoeuvre with two motorcycles and 584 vehicles for two-channel video shown at ST PAUL St, AUT University, Auckland (19 June – 7 July 2008)
The four finalists will each receive $5,000, thanks to major donor Dayle Mace.
In their initial deliberations, the Walters Prize 2010 jury nominated the project Persepolis 2530, by Michael Stevenson, for inclusion in the Prize.* Although the nomination itself stands, the Auckland Art Gallery regrets that due to accommodation and budgetary constraints it was not possible to realise Persepolis 2530 as part of the Walters Prize 2010.
* Michael Stevenson: Persepolis 2530 shown at Arnolfini, Bristol (2 February - 25 March 2008)
Auckland Art Gallery Director Chris Saines says – “The Walters Prize jury has again drawn out a strong and conceptually diverse group of works for inclusion in this year’s Prize exhibition. Seen together, the finalist projects offer a lively and engaged register of the current state of play within New Zealand contemporary art.
I want to congratulate warmly Dan Arps, Fiona Connor, Saskia Leek and Alex Monteith on achieving their thoroughly deserved place among this year’s finalists. At the same moment, I want to acknowledge as well the Gallery’s inability to stage Michael Stevenson’s ambitious Persepolis 2530, a project included in the first round of jury nominations.
In that context, it is important to recognise that the award of the Walters Prize is made by a visiting judge with the sole task of selecting one work from the four Prize exhibition finalists. As a result, while Persepolis 2530 remains a jury nominee, the judge is unable to consider the project for the 2010 award.
This year marks a decade since we inaugurated the biennial Walters Prize. The Prize continues to go from strength to strength, as the high quality of this year’s finalists proves once again. It is encouraging to see too that, taken together, they are the youngest in the Prize’s history”
JURORS Jon Bywater - Programme Leader, Critical Studies at Elam School of Fine Art, The University of Auckland. Rhana Devenport - Director, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth Leonhard Emmerling - Visual Arts Adviser, Goethe Institute, Munich, Germany, former Director, ST PAUL St, AUT University Kate Montgomery – Director, Physics Room, Christchurch
INTERNATIONAL JUDGE The international judge for the Walters Prize 2010 prize will be named later this year. They will select the winner, announced at a gala dinner in October. The winner will receive $50,000 and an all expenses paid trip to New York, including the opportunity to exhibit their work at Saatchi & Saatchi’s world headquarters. The Walters Prize 2008 international judge was Paris-based curator and writer Catherine David.
JURORS STATEMENT “The five projects or bodies of work we have selected for the Walters Prize 2010 were chosen for what they have in common. As the Prize’s criteria stipulate, they are considered to be the most outstanding contributions to contemporary New Zealand art shown in the time since the last Prize was shortlisted. At the same time, however, they are quite unalike. They offer notably different kinds of pleasures and puzzles, and have been created through contrasting artistic approaches. This highlights a key challenge of our task as jurors, which has been to remain alert to what impacts in a valuable way on the practice and reception of New Zealand art. Mediated by debate, our collective sense of what constitutes artistic excellence agreed on the diverse successes of each project.”
Born 1976 Lives in Auckland MFA (Hons), The University of Auckland 2006 BFA Sculpture, University of Canterbury 2000 Nominated for Explaining Things (2008) Jurors comment: “Where the art stops and the ordinary world starts is a point Dan Arps often blurs with his work. He has made careful formal gestures with materials as banal as breakfast cereal and sheets of newspaper - things a long way from the everyday idea of art. At the same time, he has made gestural paintings and elaborate objects on plinths - almost parodies of a clichéd idea of art. In Explaining Things, the expressive and the deadpan are jammed together in this way. Chunks of mass cultural detritus - You Tube clips, furniture, ornaments and posters - are reworked into what sometimes appear to be illegibly personal artifacts. As the title hints, all manner of cultural stuff sampled in this precise jumble of images and objects might relate to our desires for things to be explained, including art.”
Born 1981 Lives in Los Angeles BA, BFA Elam School of Fine Art, University of Auckland, 2003 Nominated for Something Transparent (please go round the back) (2009) Jurors comment: “Echoing, and initially installed within, the high-profile window space of Michael Lett’s dealer gallery on Karangahape Road, Fiona Connor’s intriguing sculptural proposition Something Transparent (please go round the back) makes the most of the unsettling potential of the double-take. Positioning multiple reproductions of the glass façade and public entrance to the gallery in situ one behind the next, Connor’s work is both visually captivating and compelling conceptually. Literally sidelining its audience and fragmenting the commercial space of the work’s initial host with layer upon layer of plate glass, Something Transparent (please go round the back) proves itself as disarming as it is illusory and alluring. With an ongoing interest in how spaces and objects operate within specific communities, this playfully sophisticated work continues Connor’s investigations into the multivalent site of the art gallery by again harnessing the potency and enigmatic duplicity of the replica.”
Born 1970 Lives in Auckland BFA University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, 1992 Nominated for Yellow is the Putty of the World (2009) Jurors comment: “Whitish yellows and whitish blues contribute to the distinctive colouring of Saskia Leek’s recent work. This palette has evolved from paintings that respond directly to the look and the mood of sun-faded prints and Paint By Numbers pastels, and is treated in the exhibition Yellow is the Putty of the World more clearly as a subject in itself. Leek’s painting has long honoured the appeals of popular images. Here she acknowledges a pathos in the generic nature of any picture of a sailing ship, say, or bowl of fruit, and aligns it with the now equally familiar idea of abstraction. She does not strain to make a point about supposedly ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, about modernism or mass culture. Instead, these works demonstrate the fascination that remains in such over-determined starting points for the act of painting, refreshing and personalising them. Combining subtlety and accessibility, they are paintings about painting, but also just as much paintings about the world, that painting, after all, is a part of.”
Born 1977 Lives in Auckland Completed BFA in Photography in 2001, MFA in Intermedia and the time-based arts and DocFA at the Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland. Nominated for Passing Manoeuvre with two motorcycles and 584 vehicles for two- channel video (2008) Jurors comment: “What we are seeing is illegal according to the New Zealand Road Code, but a familiar sight for commuters on Auckland roads nonetheless: motorbikes threading their way between lanes of slow-moving traffic. The action is defamiliarised by being presented to us from two perspectives at once, as one camera looks forward and another looks back, from one bike to another. As in many of her works, Alex Monteith has taken advantage of contemporary technology to update the kinds of image-making experiments undertaken by structuralist filmmakers in the 1960s, deriving a formal composition from the action of vehicles. Here, the apparently simple double view of the relative motion of the motorbikes and the other traffic comes to life as an experience as it confounds our sense of time. Where is the present moment in the image we are offered? Our grasp of movement and space is challenged by Monteith’s elegant abstraction.”
Exhibition Opens: 24 July 2010 Exhibition Closes: 31 October 2010 Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Taamaki New Gallery