Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Walters Prize rules ok

With the 2014 Walters Prize behind us here's something to think about. What happens to the exhibitions that slip into the crack between the considerations of one judging panel and the selection of the next? Currently at least one of the judges is meant to see each of the exhibitions the panel selects, but what happens when we're between panels? If your show's overseas maybe it's like the Academy Awards: you've got to get the timing of your release right or you're out of contention.

You've do have to wonder for instance which of the next lot of Walters Prize potential panelists will have been to Monash University to see Fiona Connor's 2014 exhibition Wallworks. And who, if anyone, will be taking a look at Oscar Enberg’s Malmo show or made it over to the Liverpool Biennale to catch Mike Stevenson’s installation Strategic-Level ?Spiritual Warfare. There's no budget for this eyes-on rule which has stretched itself way beyond any usefulness as increasingly NZ artists exhibit everywhere.

Originally the idea was to give the prize to the artist who had made the outstanding contribution over the previous two years. You can do that without seeing everything. That is until you base the choice on a specific exhibition.

Maybe now after a dozen years of the Walters Prize it's time to dump the rules. The panel simply chooses the four artists it feels have done the best work over the last two years and the artists can either recast one of their exhibitions or present something new depending on what best suits them.