et al. ‘restricted access‘ (detail), 2003, mixed media, photograph Jennifer French the Walters Prize, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. (Work on show, 18 September – 28 November 2004). Images courtesy of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki
Et al. win prestigious New Zealand award: the Walters Prize
Judge Robert Storr, international curator and Director of 2007 Venice Biennale
On Friday 29 October et al. won the Walters Prize, New Zealand’s most prestigious and largest art award. The judge, Robert Storr, former senior curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Director of the 2007 Venice Biennale, awarded et al. with the prize for the work, restricted access. This installation was first shown as part of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery survey show of et al.’s work, abnormal mass delusions?, in 2003.
The Walters Prize is awarded to an artist or artists who have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand art in the past two years. The award comes hard on the heels of et al.’s selection to represent New Zealand at the 2005 Venice Biennale with the fundamental practice. When speaking to the New Zealand media about the choice of et al. for the 2005 Venice Biennale, Robert Storr said:
” Et al.’s work will stand up very well in Venice, in fact it will draw attention.”
The Venice project involves a number of linked platforms in the build-up to the Venice installation itself including the Walters Prize exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery until 28 November and the 1 November launch of an evolving website for the fundamental practice: www.thefundamentalpractice.org
Robert Storr made his selection from four New Zealand artists: et al., Jacqueline Fraser, Ronnie van Hout and Daniel von Sturmer who were chosen by a jury of New Zealand curators and critics.
In awarding the Walters Prize to et al Judge Robert Storr said:
“I had not seen this work – or work by this team of artists – before, and I was very, very, struck by it… You are put in a situation where you have to do two things that the world would like you not to do simultaneously – to make sense of something and also to absorb it.
“I chose et al. because it puzzles me the most. It seems to me in a variety of ways that this team of artists has radically addressed the problem of contemporary art. In one installation you have a place to sit – but you’re not sure if you should sit there; you have a whole lot of things to see – but you can’t get to them; you have a series of voices speaking – someone on a television in the distance but you can’t hear them. You also hear a rather steady art historical lecture about the position of the artist, and the dilemma of what the artist intends and what the public receives. From another speaker, you hear a public debate on this kind of art and its relation to this country.
“It’s a very intelligent orchestration of all the dilemmas that the public actually will feel when considering work they do not know. Particularly the dilemma that I think is true of a lot of art – the art that does not love the art lover back. It doesn’t necessarily spurn the art lover; it’s not hostile to the art lover; but it basically says “Come to me, but I will not reward you immediately with what you’re looking for. Come to me, I will engage you in a process of figuring out what I am, and who you are.”
This is the second time that the Walters Prize has been awarded. The Award is the initiative of founding benefactors and principal donors Erika and Robin Congreve and Jenny Gibbs, working in partnership with the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. Et al receives $50,000 as well as a return trip to New York courtesy of Saatchi and Saatchi where et al. will have the opportunity to exhibit work in their worldwide headquarters. All the finalists receive $5000 Finalist Awards from Major Donor Dayle Mace.
Et al.’s project for the 2005 Venice Biennale , the fundamental practice, will be developed by New Zealand artists et al. in association with the New Zealand Commissioner Greg Burke, Director of the Govett Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand and Curator Natasha Conland, Curator Contemporary Art at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
the fundamental practice will be a new site-specific installation in Venice made for the particular site and environment of the New Zealand pavilion. It will examine the nature of fundamentalism and how it is inherent to cult activity in political, artistic, religious and scientific arenas.
The concept is a development of recent major et al. projects that have explored ideas relating to group culture and behaviour. In et al.’s installations diverse forms of group practice appear eerily similar. Scientific experiment, political ideologies, the classroom, and fringe religious practices are all shown to be capable of mind control. Given these associations, et al.’s work is particularly pertinent to recent developments in global politics.
For further media information or images about et al. and the fundamental practice please contact:
Senior Media Adviser
Creative New Zealand
Tel: + 64 4 498 0725
Mob: + 64 274 965 925