Whilst the Turner Prize is accustomed to attention from the press, this year uncharacteristically the nominees aren’t giving any cause for alarm. It would seem that for the first time in a long time there is very little controversy surrounding the candidates, and as a result the press are suspiciously reticent in their coverage. You can detect a little disappointment.
The selected artists this year are all nominated for work which are genuinely socially and morally aspirational. There is no element of the sardonic to the works, no explicit mention of death or sex, they seem totally devoid of the lazy, languid introspection that has characterised some previous nominees.
However, some critics have lamented the lack of actual imagery in this year’s selection, and it’s true to say that the nominees are not overwhelmingly visual. Yet, it is still something to be celebrated that such a well-established, and therefore effectively mainstream, art prize dares to nominate four such conceptual artists.
The winner will be announced on 7th December, so in the meantime here’s what you need to know about this year’s nominees:
Assemble are a group of 18 architects who came together to regenerate a down-at-heel area in Liverpool. The Granby Four Streets project involved saving a group of houses in Toxteth which had been designated for demolition after the 1981 riots. Assemble call their work an ‘ongoing collaboration’ with the residents of the buildings and have regenerated the estate into a place people want to live in. The collective believe that a space should not simply be occupied by its inhabitants, but should actively shape them. Rather than letting the estate be demolished, the group use architecture and design to create a community. Using cheap materials and demolition waste the Assemble redesigned the houses with features such as fireplaces designed by artists and a ‘winter garden’ made in the rubble of an empty house.
The group have a studio in London and according to Tate they work together like a 1930s Modernist collective. Tate Britian director Penelope Curtis explains “They have lunch every day around the table to discuss projects and they couldn’t accept the nomination until all had accepted.”
Assemble are the bookies’s favourite to win and I’m inclined to agree. It would certainly be well deserved.
The 44 year old fine art lecturer at Goldsmiths has been nominated for her project ‘The Military Industrial Complex at South London Gallery’. The work consists of a research room examining philosophy, physics, witchcraft and quantum theory, among other subjects. The piece explores the artist’s fascination with research and perceived knowledge. The viewer is invited to become a researcher and to consider the human instinct to categorise, organise and process knowledge.
London-based Canadian artist, Janice Kerbel’s nominated work DOUG is a nine-song opera performed by six voices which tells the story of an imaginary disaster. The opera was staged as a one-off performance in Glasgow’s Mitchell Library.
Kerbal studied at Goldsmiths and her first major work entitled Bank Job was a meticulous plan for the robbery of Coutts & Co. bank.
DOUG was commissioned by the Common Guild Glasgow and apparently explores the deconstruction of language, physical comedy and violence in cartoons. It may sound like a parody, but the work has received a lot of praise.
German artist Nicole Wermers’s nominated work features a series of classic modernist chairs onto which the artist has sewn fur coats, as if casually hung during a dinner party. The work questions the absorption of art into consumerist culture, where the original designs are sullied and manipulated for capitalist gain. It’s visually vapid- but deliberately so. The nominated exhibit in which the work was presented, Infrastrucktur, also featured sculptures, collages and installations.