The audience quietened as the first artist stepped on stage. The judges – Alaska Projects’ Sebastian Goldspink, curator Susan Gibbs and Artspace’s Mark Feary – sat at the ready. After an introduction by local artist Kenzie Larsen, WINNER! was in full swing. Curated by inter-disciplinary artist Mish Grigor (who you may know as one third of the always engaging performance group Post), WINNER! explored a side of the art world rarely on display in a gallery – the inevitable competition for funding, in this case a $1000 prize. Opening night saw nine artists pitch their ideas for five minutes each, without the aid of images. The presentations were a mixed bag of practices, mediums and concepts, ranging from the incredible to the inaudible, the performative to the perfunctory. It was an interesting experience, and perhaps not a surprising curatorial choice for Grigor, herself a performer. What was great about the show was that it made visible something that is too-often a cloaked process. Even the judges’ debate was on show, staged as a public event before the announcement of the ultimate winner on Saturday evening. WINNER! had a lot to offer; it was unpretentious, clear in its intent, interesting in its lack of ephemera, and at times very compelling. It remains to be seen what the eventual winner, Hannah Furmage, does with her winnings … in this way, the ‘exhibition’ continues in perpetuity.
Firstdraft, 116-118 Chalmers St, Surry Hills, firstdraftgallery.com