Richard Parry's 2011 Emerging Artists Award

Having won ours, the conceptual artist creates his own art award, recognising new talent while mocking the art industry at the same time

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Back in October, Richard Parry won the Converse/Dazed 2011 Emerging Artists Award. In an interview with Dazed Digital prior to the winner being announced, Parry stated that if he won he would go forward in creating his own artist award and the London-based artist has done just that with the Richard Parry 2011 Emerging Artists Award. Known for his conceptual art work though, this is not simply just another art award as Parry’s newest project is in fact a satire of both the art world and of himself as an artist. This is demonstrated by the artist mimicking several aspects of the Converse/Dazed competition, such as the title, the entrants website page as well as including many other tongue-in-cheek references on the supporting websites. He’s made it clear that authenticity has been considered throughout.

However, while there’s an air of humour to a lot of his work, the artist is actually serious about this award, so as well as simultaneously mocking the whole concept of the art award, there is also a genuine prize, with real entrants for the competition. Judging the prize with his girlfriend, Parry is even providing a winners prize, part of which consists of a one-way ticket to plane Zimbabwe. Ahead of the winner’s ceremony this Friday (16 December) at Power Lunches Art Cafe, we decided to catch up with Parry so he could explain to us the kind of work that’s been entered into the show and how he views the art scene as not being about art at all.

Dazed Digital: Tell us about the Richard Parry 2011 Emerging Artists Award. What made you decide to set up the award?
Richard Parry: 
Billions are wasted on ineffective philanthropy. Philanthropy is decades behind business in applying rigorous thinking to the use of money – that is one of the reasons we have such a bloated and ever-expanding culture-mediation industry.

The Richard Parry Emerging Artists Award presents an opportunity to cast a spotlight on creative communities, creating new opportunities and relationships into the future. On the other hand, it is also a chance to launder my hypocrisy and self- image as an artist, masquerade as someone who has something to say, and buy some cultural credibility within the vibrant contemporary art scene…

DD: What kind of artwork/artists have entered?
Richard Parry: 
My girlfriend Heather (my fellow judge) and I are overwhelmed by the incredible range of talent we have received from all around the world. We are looking forward to unveiling a commemorative GIF featuring all the entries at the award ceremony in Powerlunches Arts Café on December 16th. This commemorative GIF will be a kind of digital beacon within a wider cultural landscape / zeitgeist. Notable entries have been received from as far as Poland, Mozambique and Dalston.

On the other hand, it’s not really about the art; it’s about the meaning of the social event / party… (The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the Worldwide Web due to its wide support and portability.)

DD: It’s said the Prize is a work of art in its own right, what does this mean?
Richard Parry: 
It could mean that the conditions of the artwork are a part of the artwork itself. It could also mean that pristine versions of the 15,000 flyers and fly posters I printed and distributed around the world may be sold to forward-thinking art collectors.

DD: Can you also elaborate on the reasons for the winner also receiving a one-way ticket to Zimbabwe? Why there?
Richard Parry: 
From experience, I am only fun in other countries, and travel does broaden the mind.

DD: You recently won the Dazed x Converse Emerging Artist award, what made you enter the competition? What does it mean to you to have won?
Richard Parry: 
For me the real prize at stake is being able to continue working as an artist, and the money has helped me do that to an extent. For the Dazed exhibition I was able to realise paintings that offered a deterritorialised or re-valued view of one’s self and the wider exhibition conditions as contemporary art.

DD: What are your thoughts on arts awards as a whole? Does the art world take itself too seriously?
Richard Parry: 
The thing about the art world is that most of what’s passing as information within it is total fiction. The art world isn’t about art. It is about escapism, the spread of received ideas and pretending things like the YBAs or Rolling Stones are still relevant. There is a lot of pretense floating about it and I think that as part of this nebulous fiction, art awards are neither better nor worse than anything else therein.

DD: Do you think winners of these kinds of awards should receive monetary prizes? Is the scene too money driven these days?
Richard Parry: 
I think credit, where credit is due, is good.

DD: What’s next for you?
Richard Parry: 
I’m planning an international sculpture tour of avant-garde sculptures in radical art spaces taking in Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Stockholm, Berlin and Paris (and with anyone else who is interested in getting in touch and collaborating).

I’m also trying to convince my local art dealers to let me exhibit in their galleries and / or art fair booths. But to be frank, even though I recently won the Dazed x Converse prize and sold work through Christie’s, it’s not going too well - I might have to set up my own gallery…

'Richard Parry 2011 Emerging Artists Award: Prize Giving' (9pm sharp) 16 December, Power Lunches Art Cafe, 446 Kingsland Road, Hackney, London E8 4AA 

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