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Walters winner

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

Ruth Buchanan has won the Walters Prize 2018 for her presentation of BAD VISUAL SYSTEMS, 2016/2018.


Ruth Buchanan, BAD VISUAL SYSTEMS, 2016/2018


The mixed media installation was described by international judge Adriano Pedrosa as ‘a tour de force of language itself, not so much framed as an efficient means of communication, but as a fantasy of “bad visual systems.”’ The installation incorporates text, video, sound and a variety of large-scale sculptural features. Buchanan’s aim was to fundamentally alter the way the site was navigated and how artworks were encountered.


Ruth Buchanan, BAD VISUAL SYSTEMS, 2016/2018

Pedrosa, who is Artistic Director at São Paulo Museum of Art in Brazil, says ‘Buchanan brings together politics, feminism and the body, arranged in a processual, open and speculative way. It takes into account competing, overlapping and contradictory modes of representation, both visual and verbal, aural and spatial.’


The three other finalist works are The Making of Mississippi Grind 2017 by Jacqueline Fraser, Whol Why Wurld by Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, and Fāgogo by Pati Solomona Tyrell. The artists were nominated for specific works or exhibitions, but could rework their nominated piece or create something new for the Walters Prize exhibition. Buchanan’s show, originally exhibited at Adam Art Gallery in Wellington, is site-specific and was completely reworked to fit into the prize exhibition.


Ruth Buchanan, BAD VISUAL SYSTEMS, 2016

The biennial Walters Prize recognises outstanding works of contemporary New Zealand art produced and exhibited during the past two years. It aims to make contemporary art a more widely recognised and debated feature of cultural life. Buchanan, from New Plymouth and now living and working in Berlin, joins a celebrated list of winners including Shannon Te Ao (2016) and Luke Willis Thompson (2014).


Ruth Buchanan

Of the Walters Prize exhibition Pedrosa says, ‘It is an exceptional opportunity to view four outstanding works with focus and intensity not often available. All of the artists have presented complex works, of the highest standard.’



The Walters Prize 2018

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Until February