Whilst it might be true that the Turner Prize has become one of the best-known and most-talked about prizes in the visual arts world, we could argue that notorious would be a more befitting adjective to describe it.
Since its inception in 1984, it has been awarded to one artist out of four shortlisted, allegedly in recognition of an outstanding exhibition or body of work in the preceding year. They are mostly conspicuous rather than exceptionally good.
ANTHEA HAMILTON: LICHEN! LIBIDO! CHASTITY!
In a room covered by brick wallpaper, like the one she created at the Sculpture Centre in New York, we find ‘Project for a door (After Gaetano Pesce)’, a large polystyrene backside inspired by a photograph of a model by Italian designer Gaetano Pesce. Originally intended as a doorway for a block of flats in New York, the work was unsurprisingly never carried out.
Since the public was allowed to take photographs for the first time this year, many took advantage for a cheeky selfie. Rock bottom.
HELEN MARTEN: EUCALYPTUS LET US IN, LUNAR NIBS
Scrap metal, screen printings and writings come together in Helen Marten’s collages exhibited in three sections. Rock bottom.
JOSEPHINE PRYDE: LAPSES IN THINKING BY THE PERSON I AM
Josephine Pryde’s contribution is a 5″ gauge, four motor, 24V Class 66 locomotive stencilled with the DB Schenker livery. Unsurprisingly this artwork is available off the shelf here for model train enthusiasts. Rock bottom.
MICHAEL DEAN: SIC GLYPHS, QUALITIES OF VIOLENCE
The poverty line for a couple with two children living in the UK is represented here by £20436 in one pence coins and several wiry families. Definitely rock bottom.
Were it not for the serious amount of money awarded every year to British artists under the age of 50 (£25000 to the winner, £5000 to other three nominees), very few people would take any notice of this prize. In their words ‘it has played a large part in the growing public interest in contemporary art in the UK’. This could not be further from the truth. It has instilled in the general public a deep mistrust of contemporary art and provided plenty of opportunities for mockery. Since its creation, we have been subjected to thirty-two years of avant-garde, subversive, progressive, revolutionary, ground breaking art which has not led us to anything significant. Despite all the cryptic praise for the works – try to read this year’s description of Helen Marten’s installations – it should be scrapped. It is barren. Its longevity reflects its obsolescence.
Turner Prize 2016 is at Tate Britain until 02/01/2017.