Walters Prize finalists announced

The finalists of the Walters Prize, considered by many to be the most prestigious contemporary art awards in the country (the Oscars of New Zealand art?) were announced today.

‘The Walters Prize is the Gallery’s biannual opportunity to draw attention to the power and ingenuity of contemporary art practice in Aotearoa New Zealand," says Auckland Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport. "Through a rigorous selection process four artists have been nominated for exceptional artworks that pushed the boundaries of art making in 2014 and 2015. The Walters Prize 2016 is fascinating in its focus on lens-based and moving image works that will offer captivating experiences."

Auckland Art Gallery Curator, Contemporary Art, Natasha Conland says the Walters Prize format offers artists a rare opportunity to be held up and applauded on the basis of their achievements. "It’s an opportunity to capture interest in the state of contemporary art now," she says. ‘With a selection of entirely photo and time-based media works, this year’s prize shows the effects of digital culture on our visual lives. The selected artists work with moving image in diverse ways, however one thing becomes clear: historic events and materials are very much on the minds of these artists."

According to Mana magazine, this is the first time in the prize's 14 year history that the majority of the finalists are Māori.

The finalists are:

Joyce Campbell for Flightdream, 2015, exhibited at: Two Rooms, Auckland, 24 September to 24 October 2015

Nathan Pohio for Raise the anchor, unfurl the sails, set course to the centre of an ever setting sun!, 2015, exhibited at: SCAPE Public Art, SCAPE 8: New Intimacies, Christchurch, 3 October to 15 November 2015

Lisa Reihana for in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015, exhibited at: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2 May to 30 August 2015

Shannon Te Ao for Two shoots that stretch far out, 2013-14, exhibited at: 19th Biennale of Sydney:You Imagine What You Desire, 21 March to 9 June 2014.

The Walters Prize exhibition is on at Auckland Art Gallery from Saturday 16 July to Sunday 30 October, 2016.

Main image from Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus