Thursday, May 06, 2010

Where’s Walters?

One of the interesting things about the Walters Prize is how little interest there is from the media, art or otherwise. The typical media reaction, where there was one, was to print the Auckland Art Gallery’s media release without comment. From what we can see the DomPost didn’t even bother to do that.

So does this mean that everyone is convinced that all four selected Walters Prize finalists (Dan Arps, Fiona Connor, Saskia Leek, and Alex Montieth) have made an “outstanding contribution to the visual arts over the last two years”? Did no other artists have exhibitions over the last two years that made more significant contributions? Did the public art museums with all their resources seriously fail to produce a single exhibition that included any artist who had made a more significant public contribution than the selected ones? And what the hell does an 'outstanding contribution to the visual arts' look like anyway?

The selection panel for the Walters Prize chose to make a radical shift from previous years in the kind of artist chosen for the Prize. Radical can be provocative but the selectors have offered no commentary on why they selected any of the artists, apart from some ruminations over the kind of art they make, which most of us kind of knew anyway. 

In absolute contrast the recent announcement of the Turner Prize finalists set off a flurry of analysis in the media. The selections, how they met the Prize aspirations and the trends the four new Turner finalists reinforced or undercut are all being thrashed out in passionate detail. Some commentators even disagreed with the choices made. OMG.

You can read some of the Turner response here