Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Closed mike

After being nominated by the jury for the Walters Prize for his work Persepolis 2530 shown at the Arnolfini in Bristol, Berlin-based Michael Stevenson was dumped. While the nomination ‘still stands,’ the Auckland Art Gallery explained that it was unable to realise the work because of ‘accommodation and budgetary constraints’ and that put Stevenson out of the running.

Hang on a minute. As you can see in the current exhibition of the four Walters Prize nominees, two of the other nominated artists were allowed to modify their works and even (in the case of Fiona Connor) to create a new work. Had Stevenson been offered that option he might still be in the running, so why is he out in the cold? The paragraph (you can read it here) explaining the Stevenson situation has been dropped from the Walters Prize page, so maybe the Auckland Art Gallery is hoping the issue will just go away. But it probably wont and Michael Stevenson has turned out to be the loser in the confusion. 

So what’s to be done? While it’s too late to invite Stevenson to present a work to the judge, it would probably be fair to arrange for him to meet the judge under the auspices of the Prize to discuss his work or anything else he wanted to. Even better, how about a Stevenson survey show at the Auckland Art Gallery? It might be some compensation for him and it certainly would be for the rest of us.