In a shock move, unprecedented in recent years, my Twitter and RSS reader are full of discussions of the Turner Prize.
Annoyingly, they’re not talking about the Prize itself. They’re talking about the protest. And I think that’s sad, because for the first time in a while, I wholeheartedly love the winning entry, a very moving sound sculpture by Susan Philipsz.
Don’t get me wrong, the protest is important. The winner of this years prize even said so, and expressed solidarity with the protesters. But I love the Turner Prize, and I am am sad that the only way to get a lot of my friends to pay any attention to it is to get a bunch of people attempting to spoil the event (for the best of reasons, but it’s still what they were trying to do).
So: if you’ve been writing about the protests on Twitter, Facebook, LJ, your blog, or wherever, and live in London, I strongly suggest you get yourself down to the Tate, and go and see this year’s Turner exhibition. Because if you’re sitting there cheering the protesters on, then it is incumbent on you to understand what they were protesting for, and make no mistake, they were protesting to ensure that some of them have a chance to be Turner Prize nominees one day.
I’ve gone to the Turner Exhibition 4 years out of the last 5 (and was bastard annoyed at myself for missing last year), and it has been worthwhile every single time. Yes, every time there has been one entry that I thought was a bag of wank (and annoyingly, that one has been the winner at least once), but if you’re someone who, if they notice it at all, spots that annual award of the Turner prize, and mutters something about “that’s not proper bloody art” and then forgets about it, then I challenge you to go any bloody look at the exhibition for once, and form an informed opinion.
The prize is not just about the winner – there are 4 nominees across the full spectrum of the arts, and I promise you that every year, you will come away thinking that at least one of them was brilliant and interesting. Most years, I find two out of the four excellent, once of them good but not my taste, and well, yes, there’s always that problematic fourth one, but there’s a place for that, too.
This year is no exception – while I loved Philpsz’ entry, and consider it a very, very deserving winner, Angela de la Cruz was also excellent, and I would have been very nearly as happy to see her win, and Dexter Dalwood was something I could see appealing to a lot of people. (This year, The Otolith Group were the one I liked least, but honestly, I don’t feel I experienced them properly enough to say whether they were good or bad – I just didn’t have the time to spare to watch their whole video from start to finish.)