I went to see the Turner Prize exhibition for the first time in 2014 and it was shit. I mean boringly poor. Last year it wasn't in London (Liverpool maybe) and those architects won. I had no intention of going this year but a friend of mine wanted to go and hey why not. He was late so I went to see Paul Nash (more of that next week).
If you never been then the Turner Prize exhibition is of the four artists nominated for the prize. It is on show at Tate Britain The prize itself is given out on 5th December. It is quite a small show, only four rooms and they charge you £12, which is too much. If it wasn't the Turner Prize it wouldn't cost this much. Fortunately due to the magic of the art pass, for me it is half price.
The entry requirements are you have be an artist living or working in Britain, under 50 (why 50?) and have exhibited somewhere in the world in the last year. Presumably then anything Tim Peake drew on the ISS station would not qualify. From this list four people are eventually chosen and this year they are Helen Marten, Anthea Hamilton, Josephine Pryde and Michael Dean. This year it was actually good. Pictures below are from the Tate Britain website.
The reason I think it is good is Helen Marten, who I will predict will win (see above). She is the first artist you encounter when you walk through the door and sets the bar high. None of the others clear it. The pictures don't do it justice.
What you encounter are these strange motionless machines. You stand there and try and work out what it is. This apparently is the point. She is apparently encouraging us to become archaeologists. This is a very nice idea. You stare at these strange machines surrounded by these odd ephemera like fish skins. That machine you see above right has a dolls house type construction on the front. I like archaeology anyway and this idea really appealed to me. A good idea done well. I have no compunction in awarding Marten the Will Mackenzie Turner Prize nominee who really should win award of 2016.
Anthea Hamilton created the image from the Turner Prize you are most likely to have seen, the enormous bottom (you can see it above). Its a striking creation it has to be said. More amusing than anything else. You can take pictures of your self under the bum crack. After a few seconds you think its just a bum. More interesting where these small sculptures of boots with various things attached to them.
The installation was split into two. One half was the brick you see above and the other part was a sky and cloud-scape with underpants made of different material (metal mainly) hanging from a line. They didn't really work and the whole didn't really hang together.
The real train was red and a bit more substantial in the actual show. Basically there is a train track with a large toy train on it. On one side are planks of wood dyed with different shapes and the other wall photographs of closeups of nail painted hands doing different things. Also the train in the Turner prize exhibition doesn't seem to have controls or allow you to drive it.
I didn't really get it. I didn't really see how it tied all together and found all the individual elements just a bit dull, apart from the train.
Why do you have that fucking stupid scarf around your head Michael Dean? It makes me think less of you. Michael Dean is the final room in the exhibition. Having seen the scarf the blurb didn't improve my view of Dean. I have the feeling he takes himself very seriously. There are sculptures in a variety of different media and they are apparently abstractions of words. There was also a pile of 1p coins. What he did was get enough 1ps to add up to the poverty line, and then took away 1p so it was just under. The whole thing is set up like a construction site.
I was skeptical at first but I have to say it grew on me. The pile of coins with their different patina was an effective thing. Also you could wander round and in among the sculptures. Some of them have eye holes and of course if you put eye holes in things people are going to peer through them. I have to say it worked. Grew on me. The exhibition started on a high and finished on a almost a high.
Its between Marten and Dean. I tip Marten. As to if you should go and see it? No don't bother. If however Helen Marten is exhibiting near you, go and see her.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.