Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cut to the chase

What is it about the Walters Prize and the Venice Biennale? Every Venice Biennale that New Zealand has participated in has featured a winner or finalist (and one of them had one of each) of the Walters Prize. OK, Peter Robinson was a Walters’ catch-up, but the list below is a beautiful thing, synchronicity-wise.

NZ’s representation at the Venice Biennale:
2001 Jacqueline Fraser (Walters Prize finalist 2004)
2001 Peter Robinson (Walters Prize finalist 2006 and winner 2008)
2003 Michael Stevenson (Walters Prize finalist 2002)
2005 Et al. (Walters Prize winner 2004)
2007 NZ did not attend
2009 Francis Upritchard (Walters Prize Winner 2006)

Yvonne Todd is the only Walters Prize winner not to have had a spot in Venice. Maybe she was bumped for the Trip of a Lifetime tour (just kidding).

The Walters Prize seeks out the artists who have created the best exhibitions since the last prize, so it is not surprising that it is also the obvious Venice choices that get the nod. Here’s an idea. Maybe it’s time to save energy and money and drop one of the selection processes (let’s go for the cumbersome CNZ affair involving eight selectors) and make the winner of the Walters Prize (four selectors) the Venice choice as well.