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The exhibition will determine the winner of New Zealand's preeminent prize for contemporary art.

Fiona Amundsen, A Body that Lives (installation view) (2018). Video and photographic installation with Fuyuko Akiyoshi, Kayoko Ebina, Ben Kuroki, Nobuyoshi Maehira, Asumi Mizuo, Teruo Murakami, Michiko Uehara and Mami Yamada, ST PAUL St Gallery, 2018. Photo: Sam Hartnett

The Walters Prize 2021 exhibition will showcase a mix of new and recent works by finalists Sriwhana Spong, Fiona Amundsen, Sonya Lacey, and the Mata Aho Collective when it opens at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on Saturday 15 May.

Fiona Amundsen will show A Body that Lives (2018), the work for which she was nominated. It explores Japanese experiences during World War II through video and photography.

Sonya Lacey will build upon her installation Weekend (2018–21), which resulted from her research into the St Bride Foundation, a 19th-century leisure centre in London. Two new sculptures will be added to the work.

Sonya Lacey, Newspaper (for bathers, weekend) (installation view), 2018, four-channel HD video, colour, silent, The Dowse Art Museum, 2019. Photo: John Lake.

Nominated for their towering marine rope weaving Aka (2019), Māori art collective Mata Aho have instead chosen to present Atapō (2020). A similarly vertiginous work, co-created with Maureen Lander, Atapō uses diamond-shaped cutouts in sheets of black insect mesh to suggest an opening in a much denser material.

Sriwhana Spong will exhibit The painter-tailer (2019–21), a work about the home of her Balinese grandfather, that has never been shown in New Zealand. The mixed-media work includes Spong's collection of sculptural instruments inspired by the Indonesian Gamelan.

This year marks the tenth edition of the biennial prize, which launched in 2001.

'The Walters Prize is synonymous with supporting artists as they push their thinking, practice, profile and partnerships with galleries, communities, collaborators and audiences,' said Auckland Art Gallery Director Kirsten Lacy.

'It's also an exhibition that provides artists the opportunity to revisit a key work from their recent career, and to develop, finesse and expand their intentions,' said Natasha Conland, the gallery's curator of contemporary art.

Sriwhana Spong, Ida-Ida (installation view) 2019, Spike Island, Bristol. Photograph by Max McClure.

The nominees were selected by a jury consisting of University of Auckland senior lecturer Allan Smith, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū's Nathan Pohio and Melanie Oliver, and Charlotte Huddleston, director of ST PAUL ST Gallery at the Auckland University of Technology.

Huddleston curated Amundsen's A Body That Lives and Oliver curated Lacey's Weekend, suggesting a potential conflict of interest. Conland quashed this concern on Radio New Zealand, saying that 'where there was a conflict of interest, the juror was not involved in the discussion and could not vote on that project'.

The winner of the NZ $50,000 prize is determined not by the jury but by Kate Fowle, director of Moma PS1 in New York, who has been appointed as this year's visiting international judge. The winner will be declared at a gala dinner on Saturday 7 August.

Past winners of the Walters Prize, which takes its name from modernist painter Gordon Walters, include Ruth Buchanan (2018), Shannon Te Ao (2016), Luke Willis Thompson (2014), and Kate Newby (2012). —[O]

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