Did the Turner Prize happen last night? It seems awfully under-cooked this year, surely the Turner Prize is a noisy affair? Was it presented last night? Was it on the telly? I don’t know, Mr Turner was on Film Four, we were watching Mike Leigh’s take on Joseph Mallard William and his making of his snorts and his cockney noises, was the presentation of the Turner Prize even happening last night? There’s usually a big fanfare, fancy TV idents crashing about in the build up, Lauren Lavern simpering and such, and was the fact that the Mr Turner film got a television premier last night connected to the fact that Channel Four don’t seem to be covering the annual art event this year? Did the BBC broadcast it last night? The BBC certainly didn’t make the big splashy noise Channel Four did in previous years? Where were they? Did it even happen last night? The social media timelines seamed full of it last year, Assemble and such, very very quiet this year, did it even happen? Was anyone bothered? The film was rather good, enjoyed the film rather a lot, artists eh? What a rum lot, bit sneaky to put it on last night Channel Four…
Appears The 2016 Turner Prize winner announcement did happen last night. Who won? Should have gone to Rocco and his Brothers, can a German win it? I don’t know the rules, beside that stupid one about being under 50 and that annoying one about no painters (that no painters rule really is annoying). No idea what the other rules are? Is it just a British thing? Do rather like the Turner prize, Rocco would be an exciting (dare we say daring?) winner, that would put the cat amongst the critical pigeons. it is so easy to snipe and bitch and fire off a barbed comment or two, isn’t that half the point? Debate provoked?. For all the faults and cracks and sharks in unmade beds, I must confess I am a fan of the yearly event. I am on the whole an art fan, an addict, as well as an artist. I need to be in a gallery exploring art at least a couple of times a week – exploring art in the flesh, not in a book or on line, that really doesn’t count. Art excites. I do like the Turner Prize, really not a fan of prizes and judging art and artists put up against each other and vote for this and she’s better than her and he’s not as good as him, on the whole I detest art prizes (and judges and selection panels and…). I do like the Turner Prize and the circus that revolves (or once revolved) around that the Turner Prize, I like that it is the one art prize that reaches out beyond the insular art world and makes it to the tabloid papers and occasionally outrages and causes bouts of steam to come out of taxi driver’s ears (are you an artist mate, really!, did you see that shit on the TV last night? Made me want to kick it in it did, that’s not art! I’ll tell yer about art, now that bloke whats-his-name, now he can paint, you know the one…). I must confess I like the Turner Prize.
Tuesday is “Pay what you can day” in terms of the Prize (any other day the admission price to the Turner Prize exhibition is £12.00), and as I happened to be in the area (none of your damn business what I was doing in the area on a foggy Tuesday afternoon in December) and as £12 is a bladder or two of paint and well, it is always good to see these things in the flesh rather than just reading about it or looking at it on-line or via the simpering of Lauren or whoever was covering it this year. Pay what you want to more than pay what you can, seemed like a reasonable thing for the Tate to do on a Tuesday for those of us who don’t have a spare twelve quid floating around, good on yer Tate. .
Did the best artist win? I don’t know, I don’t really care, non of the four jumped out as being massively more worthy of the award than the others, Anthea Hamilton felt like some kind of overblown Athena/Hypgnosis 70’s set of Pink Floyd stage sets with those clouds and the brick wall and that crowd-pleasing big arse (that people were insisting on posing in front of for photos). Her washing line of chastity belts, was that what it was? A washing line? Her chastity belts were kind of interesting in a vague kind of way Was she the best of the four? For once I kind of came out of the gallery not really caring that much about who won the Turner Prize, for once I wasn’t spoiling for a debate over who should have won rather than the one who actually did. If I had been forced at gun point to answer the damn question and if they were to be adamant about refusing to squeeze Rocco and his Brothers in as a last-minute addition just to aid the debate that the prize is supposed to foster than I might just have opted to take the bullet or maybe at a push opted for Michael Dean rather than get shot (who wants to get shoy over someone else’s art? I’m got taking a bullet for any of this lot!) . Michael Dean, the one with all the pennies, he probably just about edged it as best of what was in truth a rather underwhelming Turner Prize 2016 experience. .I assume Josephine Pryde was just Banksy taking the piss? or maybe AK47 pulling another stunt as part of his next film? Mr Brainwash maybe? Are those model trains to be taken seriously? I wonder if any of the selectors or commentators have ever heard of Rocco and his Brothers? That East London basement gallery was packed out last month for their Wrong Side of The Tracks show, the art underground is alive with talk of those Berlin rooms and what they might mean and who’s behind them and what they might be addressing, alive with talk of those statues that keep on appearing in German parks, now that is exciting art to debate about. .
As for the actual winner Helen Marten, well really in all truth, it didn’t register, her collection of bits didn’t excite, I really want to say it did, I really want to report that I walked in and saw her space used in exciting ways, that it excited me – it didn’t though, it didn’t anger, it didn’t bite, it didn’t thrill, it depressed, it ignited something, it just didn’t though…. It just didn’t Do anything much and as much as I really dislike being mean about an artist and as much I really do like the notion of the Turner Prize, and however much I really did want to come out of it and tell you how exciting it all was, truth is, with maybe, at a stretch, with maybe the possible exception of Michael Dean’s pile of pennies that just about hovered above the poverty line, besides maybe his piece, nothing much about this year’s Turner Prize was really that interesting – probably one of the least interesting art shows I’ve been to this year.
Do hate to think I’m almost in danger of agreeing with those tedious attention-seeking Stuckist bores here – no, they talk a complete load of tired old brown hat. It wasn’t that the art was bad, it wasn’t that it didn’t get me angry, or that it was or wasn’t controversial, it was just that it was least the interesting least engaging Turner Prize in years and years.. nothing about it enraged, annoyed, excited, well besides that practical joke that was the train set, and that really wasn’t that much of a practical joke really, pretty tame practical joke and well if you want painted train sets then the painted train sets at Chrome and Black come with a hip-hop soundtrack and a the smell of fresh Montana.
I did kind of like Helen Marten’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery exhibition piece Drunk Brown House, (could have done without all the waffle and annoyance of her commentary in that video via that link you just passed though) kind of really want to like her just because that tragically empty piece of soullessness that is Michael Gove attacked her in The Independent this morning, or on social media as reported by the Independent or something? Gove really is a vile vile piece of devoidness – mind you, how devastating would it be to be an artist complimented by the empty shell that is the former Education Secretary? A compliment from him would be career ending I imagine. To misquote that great Welsh painter Peter Predergast, “if Michael Gove likes it, tear it up” (he actually said if your granny likes it tear it up, but hey, if Gove likes it, tear it up, burn it down and give up art completely). Wonder what Peter would have made of all this? He’d probably think it all irrelevant and demand we depart and head for the rooms alive with actual Turner canvases instead, which is indeed what happened this afternoon, how good is it to be gave to face with a living breathing Turner? Maybe they;ll have some painting in the Turner prize next year, or Rocco and his Brothers or that artist who had that great installation piece over in that…. nah, enough, the Turner Prize didn’t really ignite anything much this year, can’t win ’em all, bring on the next one. (sw) ..
Further reading… ORGAN THING: Who are Rocco and his Brothers? Four days on from kembra’s voluptuousness, The Right Side Of The Tracks, with Marr and Kaos, makes for yet another excellent East London art show opening… The November rain is pouring down, the wind is blowing hard, this is not a Saturday night to venture out unless you really have to, but the North East London basement space known as BSMT Space is packed once more. Another packed opening night in the Dalston gallery, this time for a show called The…. read on…
Click on an image to enlarge a badly photographed image from one of confounded optical box things that will be the ruination of painter everywhere or run the slide show to get a flavour or two of the 2016 Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, Millbank, London until January 2nd 2017.