Dan Arps takes out New Zealand's Walters Prize - Art Collector

Installation view of Dan Arps's Explaining Things. Courtesy: the artist.

11 October 2010 | Dan Arps is the winner of $50,000 Walters Prize for 2010. Established in 2002, the biennial award has quickly become one of New Zealand’s most critically significant prizes. While many prizes are judged on the basis of a single work or suite of works, the Walters Prize recognises a body of work put forward in an exhibition staged in the previous two years.

Arps was named the winner for his 2008 exhibition at Gambia Castle,
Explaining Things, by judge Vicente Todoli, the former director of the Tate Modern.

“I have awarded this prize to Dan Arps because he has created a total work of art in the Wagnerian sense of Gesamkunstwerk,” Todoli notes. “His work is a development of a concept first created by James Joyce in
Ulysses, which is the epiphany of everyday life. This idea was highly influential on Duchamp, when he developed the concept of the readymade, and was transmitted into the present through movements like fluxus and pop.

“In this case, it would be the epiphany of the humble and the rejected. The artist has transformed these found materials through his own editing and his process of amelioration and has taken them into another, higher realm.

“Through this process, Dan Arps has turned his installation into an alchemical chamber. He incorporates such a diversity of art disciplines in the treatment of such dissimilar elements, which results in the creation of a conglomerate where the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. Each of them radiates into the empty spaces between them, turning Explaining Things into a revelatory multi-layered experience.”

Alongside the cash prize, the Auckland-based artist also receives an all expenses paid trip to New York with the opportunity to exhibit his work at the world headquarters of prize sponsor Saatchi & Saatchi.

The award exhibition continues at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki New Gallery until 31 October 2010.

Jane O'Sullivan

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