SLEA – Juri’s Virtual Art Blog – Judging
SLEA – Juri’s Virtual Art Blog – Judging

SLEA – Juri’s Virtual Art Blog – Judging

Architect Jørn Utzon with his “spherical solution” for crafting the shells of the roof of the Sydney Opera House.

Juri’s Virtual Art Blog

Juri wrote a nice blog post on how SLEA might go about judging proposals for their upcoming land grants:

After reading it I started typing in the comment box, only to discover when I pressed enter that:

Kommentare in diesem Blog sind auf Teammitglieder beschränkt.

Which is apparently German for:

Comments on this blog are limited to team members.

So… I’m posting my comment here instead:


Great post, Juri, thank you! It does seem like the SLEA organizers have a points schedule as you’ve suggested. And from all signs they’re working hard to have a fair and thorough process. One thing you suggest that I don’t think they are doing is to publish their evaluation criteria. That might, as you suggest, be bad. Or, it could be better not to publish and simply allowing artists to put their best proposal forward. Knowing the criteria your proposal will be judged on seems helpful, but it could also lead to artists “gaming the process” by writing proposals stuffed with keywords and what they think the jurors want to hear rather than expressing their own vision as clearly and compellingly as they are able.

I think some kind of points system as you describe, and as SLEA has said they will be using, is probably the best way to go. However that could be limiting also. I’m mindful of the story of the judging for the Sydney Opera House design. One of the judges, Eero Saarinen, arrived late to the judging. Looking through the entries still under consideration, Saarinen wasn’t pleased with any of them. So he started flipping through the reject pile until he came upon Jørn Utzon’s design which he pulled out and offered to the committee. The committee told Saarinen that the Utzon design had already been rejected because it couldn’t be built. As legend has it, Saarinen replied “I don’t care if it can be built, it must be built” and argued that Utzon’s design was the only truly great design in the competition. This is a bit far afield from selecting artists for SLEA, still, there are always intangible factors. The points system might keep random bias out, but it could also keep someone like Saarinen from forcefully arguing the importance of a project. In the case of the Sydney Opera House, the world would be a poorer place if Utzon’s design hadn’t been built. In the case of SLEA, it isn’t going to be that dramatic. Still, knowing the best way to judge entries can be difficult!

I do like your idea to try to have the committee keep rotating. My sense, I’m not certain, is that with LEA this happened at first, but over time people left and a diminished team had a bigger workload and it eventually became hard to keep operating.

Eero Saarinen with a model of his design for the Saint Louis Gateway Arch.
Image: The Atlantic/Library of Congress/Balthazar Korab

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