#PRIZENOPRIZE 2017 | 3-16 DECEMBER 2017
THE WALLS Art Space, 4/18 Mountain View Ave. Miami, Gold Coast
FEATURING: CHASE ARCHER, HAILEY ATKINS, JANIS CLARKE, RICKY LARRY, SOPHIE PENKETHMAN-YOUNG, MELISSA SPRATT, VEOPLE (JAY JERMYN & JULIAN CURRIE) | CURATED BY MARIAM ARCILLA
Riding along the undercurrents of Turner Prizes and Archibalds, #PRIZENOPRIZE is an exhibition that champions and democratises art across all media and levels. Think of it as a soft power alternative to the head-churning, nail-biting process that comes with applying for art awards – or being shortlisted for the coveted Bachelor rose of the artworld. There is no prize money, entry fee or commission on sales; instead this is an open platform for contemporary and experimental artists (especially emerging artists) across Australia to exhibit and perform at THE WALLS this December — which we think is a prize in itself. #PRIZENOPRIZE is an annual open-call exhibition series that began in 2016, and is curated by Mariam Arcilla for THE WALLS.
2017 CURATORIAL RESPONSE
An art prize, at its core, is a hat-tip towards excellence and elevation. It’s a merit of recognition; it attracts back pats and gallery claps. But it can also come with a side of competition anxiety and bittersweet politics. After all, the art world likes to take score. The open-call group show #PRIZENOPRIZE is a fun undertone and detour to this. In this version, there is no winner, no top prize. Instead, glory is split and everyone wins. All practices – including painting, new media, performance, sound, and sculpture – stand on equal ground.
Our intention for this exhibition is to provide emerging and experimental artists with the same opportunities that art prizes often bring – but with less nail-biting and more light-heartedness. This is why we made the application process simple: You could enter a work via Instagram or by email. There is no entry fee, age cut-off, or the usual prerequisites often seen in prize rules.
As the curator for the #PRIZENOPRIZE series, I worked closely with THE WALLS Director Rebecca Ross on the shortlisting process. Seven artists were selected from a pool of 76 submitted works by 46 artists across Australia. During this time, I became drawn to multidimensional pieces that played with the caprice of visual trickery – either through space, scale, use of materials, or display format. So, we flirted with this notion by installing pieces in areas and corners within the gallery space that required circular, side-on, and top-down viewings – and at times, a manipulation of the body. In this show, you peer, squat, squint, and climb.
In his vinyl banner work, The Sprawl Mirror Displacements, Ricky Larry examines the simulacra of the built environment and artificial spaces, to conflate together a world that is both familiar and non-native. For the cakey sculptural installations, Losers Can Be Winners Too, An Unimpressive Pit, and Mum’s Spag Bog (Arms are Heavy), Hayley Atkins offers a humorous alternative to winning and success by favouring self-doubt and the anticlimactic.
A memory cocktail of Youtube snippets, music videos, history films, and digital animations collide in Sophie Penkethman-Young’s new media piece, HTML Flatpack, as a mimic to society’s obsession with infinite-scrolling and channel surfing. Plant anatomy and landscape is at the heart of Melissa Spratt‘s Ventures, explored through the finger-knitted maps that act as circular crops that pad the clinical settings of a white cube.
In Chinese Burn Society, Chase Archer toys with the illusional conventions of painting, screenprinting, and collage with a piece that bumps together iconic contemporary and historic visuals. Janis Clarke‘s painting assemblage, Bananas, uses accidental forms and colour fade triggers to exude anti-aestheticism and tropicana kitsch. For the show’s opening night event, VEOPLE (Jay Jermyn + Julian Currie) serenaded audiences with multimedia visuals and sounds that fuelled nuances of psychedelia and atmospheric nostalgia.
Exhibited together at #PRIZENOPRIZE, these works provide a harmony of spatial disruption and optical illusion. Above all, they serve as a reminder that ‘winning’ isn’t everything. It’s the failures, trippings, and happy accidents, that are the real trophies.