Turner Prize @ Tate Britain


With previous winners including Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry the Turner Prize is easily one of the biggest prizes in the art world. This year, the prizes 28th, the short listed artists are Elizabeth Price, Paul Noble, Spartacus Chetwynd and Luke Fowler who all have their work on display at Tate Britain. These artists nominated for the £25,000 are all under 50, British and have been nominated for an outstanding exhibition in the last year.

Amongst the artists, two are film makers, one is a performance artist while the other works on paper. While I can’t honestly say that any of the work was particularly my cup of tea, most of it was interesting. Elizabeth Price shows a 20 minute film entitled’ The Woolworth’s Choir of 1979′ which has short clips of film and sound mixed with repeated words across the screen. The film documents a store in Manchester where 10 people died during a fire, juxtaposing it with the interior of a gothic church. Also showing film is Luke Fowler, however, at 90 minutes long I can’t say I stayed to see it through. The film showed by the artist ‘All Divided Selves’ recall the career of psychiatrist R D Laing. The film is a collage of many different pieces of footage puzzled together and unless you time your visit to the Tate well I suspect it would be difficult to catch the film at a moment which would enable you to understand its context as I certainly didn’t. With the film being so long, it is not really suitable in my view for the average gallery goer and I feel I missed out here.

The work of Spartacus Chetwynd I personally found the most baffling. While many have praised the artist for her performance work, after seeing it first had, I can definitely say that it is not for me at all. Puppets and men dressed as vegetables all just seems a bit too silly. The artist may have been said to bring back the missing ‘oomph’ that the Turner Prize is said to have been lacking in recent years, however I just couldn’t take it seriously and was left rather disappointed and a little annoyed by the whole ordeal.

My favourite artist shortlisted is Paul Noble. As the most traditional artist, Noble works in pencil creating his own imaginary cityscape in a town he has named ‘Nobson Newtown.’ Noble’s uninhabited buildings are accompanied by a series of sculptures, yet it is the drawings which shine. From afar they are impressive and up close hundreds of minute details are unveiled to the viewer, including a cow with a yin-yang sign for a head.

While I can’t say I was particularly thrilled by any of the work in the Tate exhibition I do feel it important to see as the winner will ultimately win a very influential position in the world of art and the show also displays the tastes of British artists in the present moment.

The winner will be announced and broadcast live on 3 December on Channel 4 and the exhibition will be open at Tate Britain until 6 January 2013.

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine and Reorient.

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