restricted access (2004)

ETAL. 2004 restricted access, The Walters Prize Solo site-specific work was initially installed in ‘abnormal mass delusions?’ Govett Brewster Art Gallery 2003. Selected as a finalist for the Walters Prize 2004 restricted access was completely reconfigured by et al. for the subsequent installation Walters Prize, Auckland Art Gallery 2004.  A number of pivotal components were added to the work reflecting and re-examining the media, public and parliamentary debate on contemporary art in New Zealand, and on the artist et al., during the period since the original installation. These included synthesised speech, and multi-media and sculptural components specifically created for this work. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, 18 September – 28 November. The 2004 Walters Prize was judged by leading international art curator Robert Storr. Storr is a contributing editor at Art in America since 1981 and writes  for Artforum, Parkett,and Frieze (London). He was commissioner of the 2007 Venice Biennale. Photographer Stephen Cleland
JUDGE’S STATEMENT Robert Storr: restricted access is a work that I had not seen before, nor had I seen works by this team of artists, and I was very, very, struck by it. It seems to me that it has in it a couple of basic ingredients, which one hopes you would find in work of this kind. One is that it has an idea, and two, that it has a lot of feeling. There is the tendency to dichotomise – to say the mind is separated from feeling. In this case, the challenge to think is also backed by a whole series of factors – sound that is difficult to deal with but also powerful; words that are difficult to listen to but that also say something; 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. The reason I chose et al. is, in part, 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 (it looks like a 50’s or 60’s interview show – so you know the type but not the words – it’s like knowing a song but not the lyrics). You also have a rather steady art historical lecture about what the position of the artist is, and interprets the dilemmas of what the artist intends and what the public receives. Another speaker, what is in effect, a public debate about this kind of art and its relation to this country. But 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 alot 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.’