Friday, October 12, 2012

The knowledge

Mami Kataoka, this year’s Walters Prize judge, will be back in New Zealand next week to decide who gets the cash and the trip to New York. Looking back over the winners so far (Yvonne Todd, et al., Francis Upritchard, Peter Robinson and Dan Arps) it hasn’t always been easy to guess the winner but recently we did meet someone who has guessed every winner from Yvonne Todd on. Not only that, they are also confident that they'll be able to tag this year’s one too. 

 So, if you want to be at the Walters Prize dinner next week and have the pleasure of just shrugging your shoulders in a so-what-I-knew-that-already kind of way when Kataoka makes her announcement, here’s what you’ve got to do. (Spoiler alert: it involves research.)

 No big surprise that each Walters judge brings along the way they frame up art before they came to New Zealand. This frame is what you need to define as it determines who they give the prize to. It’s as easy as one, two. 

1) Get a list of the most recent exhibitions, projects or biennales curated by the judge and read up on them very carefully to figure the kind of work that will be top of her/ his mind. 

2) Check on any recent (has to be very recent) statements the judge has made. 

Then simply apply the frame you have developed and see which artist fits it best, or equally, who falls outside it. 

But does it really work we asked. How about Dan Arps. Surely he was a dark horse winner? Not so if you look at judge Vicente Todoli’s most recent exhibition before coming to NZ. Apparently it was all very Arps-like and, as important, not at all Connor, Leek or Monteith-like at all. OK, how about Yvonne Todd? No one picked the first winner. Not so. Turns out a month or so before he came to Auckland Harald Szeemann who had famously supported young artists all his curating career said in an interview that he was focussing on supporting the work of young women. Game set and match. The three other artists nominated were men. 

Thanks to our Walters Prize guesstimator, you know who you are.