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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 10:20 GMT
Turner Prize: Your views
The Turner Prize is a showcase for British artists and encourages people to engage in debate about contemporary art.
It is nearly always controversial for its content and this year's nominations include a film maker, an installation artist, a conceptual artist and a photographer/film maker.
Martin Creed's artwork The Lights Going On and Off has already hit headlines - it is an empty room, bar an array of bright lights which flash on and off every five seconds.
The BBC's arts correspondent Rosie Millard said the show was "more radical than ever", and that it was always "showy and shocking".
So what did you think? Do the artworks merit this much attention? Will this year's nominations stand the test of time? Should a painter have been included in the line-up?
The work of people like Hockney may be obscure to many, but at least there seems to be some creative process and talent involved. A flashing light in an empty room seems to have all the creativity and skill of a simple electrical breakdown. I remember a similar reaction to piles of bricks, stained nappies, etc. Am I a Philistine?
Same story every year. I'd love to win the Turner Prize...with a painting showing skill and beauty. Imagine how shocked the Modern Art establishment would be! Radical...
I think the age limit of 50 years is not right. If a man who is 120 years old is capable of producing a masterpiece, he should have the same chance as anybody else. This age limit thing is a retarded idea! It sounds like the organiser of the Turner prize is on another planet. Ditch the age limit!
I think the Turner Prize is great. It is my one opportunity to have a really good laugh.
As to whether a painter should have been included in the line up, the only answer is yes - if they were good enough, not just because they paint!
I visited the Tate Modern last week and was admiring an exhibit that had struck me as being particularly elegant, when the curator kindly tapped me on the shoulder and told me I was looking at the fire extinguisher.
What a load of nonsense. As if an unmade bed wasn't bad enough, they have now decided that an empty room is art! I'm going to start to charge an entrance fee to my garage as it is reflective of a post-modern and chaotic life experience!
Does anyone outside the world of luvvies and art investors actually enjoy any of this stuff?
My own offering for the Turner Prize would be a heap of bull manure in the centre of an otherwise empty room. I would call it "Wasted Space".
It's possible to describe works like these as "radical" and "shocking" - but only a small set of critics and artists actually have enough nous in Modern Art to critique them in this way.
The vast majority of the viewing public will yawn and turn to the popular art-forms that they do understand : yoof music, car adverts and Harry Potter.
I very much like the idea of the Martin Creed work - it's gloriously absurd, and without even seeing it, it makes me laugh. Whether it's worthy of shortlisting for a national prize is anyone's guess, but I'm glad there are still artists with a sense of humour.
The Turner Prize always has the effect of catching the public's eye and making us re-evaluate how we think about contempory art. This cannot be a bad thing. More goes into creating what appears to be the relatively simplistic The Lights Going On and Off than people think. You should not sit in judgement on such artwork without experiencing it first hand. And experience is what it is all about anyway.
Martin Creed's work is fantastic and reminds me of the faulty office light that is always over your desk!
The moving image is the world's most popular art form and should always be represented but it you mention art to people in the street, they will almost always talk about painters. Let's keep that going by having painting represented.
I agree that many of the works in question are dubious, but at least the Turner Prize stimulates some discussion and thought about art among the general populace. When else do the majority of people ever think about the subject?
There is only one question that we need to ask ourselves with regard to halting what somebody else wants to do and that is, "Does it harm anybody else?" If the answer is no, then allow them their enjoyment and individual expression. It does not make any difference if they do not stand the test of time, everything should be about today. And lastly, why not a painter?
Paul Crutchley, UK
It's a very bad case of "The Emperor's New Clothes".
Absolute rubbish. It's purely a load of overrated 'artists' patting each other on the back to justify their own existence. We, the general public, couldn't give a monkey's about the falseness and loveyness of it all.
The Turner Prize has become more of a joke from one year to the next.
It's amazing how the crashingly mundane can be somehow legitimised as art by its appearance in a gallery. Someone pick new judges!
It's about time these people stopped wasting everyone's time and got a proper job. Anyone can switch lights on and off, that takes not artistic skill at all! Throw out all this type of rubbish and concentrate on things that take some artistic skill like paintings or sculptures, but not abstract rubbish. Anyone can make abstract rubbish but if your name isn't Damian then it doesn't count as art! If I cut a cow in half and display it, it's sick, if Damian does it, it is art! Someone needs to get their heads sorted out!
David Staveley, England
Ignore them. They just want attention.
The Turner Prize is for members of a self-congratulation club trying to justify their existence.
The very fact that people are talking about the artwork shows that they have a content beyond the mundanity of everyday life. It's the taking of a 'normal' or 'boring' item and defining it as an exhibit that's the point. If you saw a recreation of an unmade bed and surrounding "rubbish" from the 15th century you wouldn't call it junk, you'd hopefully see some inherent value in it as a comment on "normal" life from the time. Anyone can see that it doesn't take as much technical skill to put together an empty room compared to painting a nice picture of a sunset, it's the concept that counts.
I was fortunate enough to view Mike Nelson's recent installation at the ICA and was totally blown away! By shortlisting contemporary artists of his calibre, the Turner Prize gives their work a certain place and time in your country and, indeed, the world's cultural zeitgeist, surely justification enough for it's worth and continued existence.
Cyclic arguments about what constitutes art will, hopefully,
be flourishing amongst your 'great-great-great's' as
they view endless future Turner Prize exhibitions with
richer and richer prizes.
If someone calls it art, then it's art. It's just a question of whether you think it's any good or not. It seems that there are a worrying number of people who think that art has to fit some predetermined parameters - "Oh look! A picture of some flowers in a vase. Yes! That's art. And here's a brick. No! That's not art." I haven't seen any of the works in the flesh, as it were, and no-one can make a very valid comment until they have. The works are intended to be experienced first hand. Sorry, it's not like your Monet or Renoir prints that you can hang on the wall. And of course if you don't think it's art but like Monet, we all know what people said about his work when it was first exhibited. And of course if you don't think it's art, just don't go to see it and avoid challenging your own views.
The art is in the manipulation of the media to provide weeks of publicity for the Tate. £20,000 well spent!
If we ignore them long enough perhaps they'll all go away and create a work of art worth looking at. But first the 'artists' would have to spend time learning how to paint, rather than spend their time down the local scrap yard looking for inspiration.
Hey, how can I enter? I've got a wastebasket full of assorted bits of scrap paper and the remains of today's lunch. I think if an empty room merits consideration for a prize then my bin certainly could give it a run for its money.
The sort of art that these people are exhibiting, and maybe winning large sums of money for, are complete nonsense. How can a piece of paper crumpled up, or an empty room, or something completely abstract be called art? They may make lots of money but these 'artists' really need to get a life.
Another year, another Turner Prize and once again the same ill-informed arguments rear their ugly heads. Heaven forbid that the prize should be won by an artist who actually dares to create a work that demands some intellectual thought on the part of the viewer.
I'm sure that the people who decide what goes in to the Turner Prize would be able to give you a far more reasoned argument as to why it is art, than you could possibly come up with as to why it isn't.
Simply spluttering "That's not art, it's rubbish" displays a lack of imagination, and an inability to see past the surface. I'm always really amazed that people never look at the title of a piece of art, expecting instead to have it all explained via the visual experience. "The Lights Go On and Off" as a phrase alone has so many connotations, and the "empty room" is itself a beautiful image... what's the problem?
Unfortunately, having read this forum I see that the Turner Prize has failed in its principal aim of getting people talking about art. All I hear is people saying "I don't immediately understand it, therefore I don't like it, therefore it's not art."
Where has our sense of intrigue gone ¿ has it gone with our desire to learn and understand more, to challenge our thoughts and ourselves? Do people want to return to flowery still lifes, or worse, to go on to easily accessible MTV art? These works are conceptual, they are not dealing with the craft or skill of applying paint or of recreating likeness, so sneering at the artists' inability to paint is a wasted argument.
My only criticism of the prize is that there is not enough information available on the artists. They are usually a controversial bunch: they need explaining. If the Turner Prize wants to drive numbers or to really get people talking (instead of pointing and laughing), why don¿t they tell us about the art?
In my view art should first attract you with its aesthetic qualities, whether that be via beauty, curiosity or confusion. Only then if it attracts you enough to want to give it more than a passing glance should you start considering what it means. If you have to read a title, or some ridiculously desperate psychoanalytical description to appreciate it, then it has failed. And if the would be art is an every day thing that anybody can create, that we all encounter randomly every day, that is full of familiarity, then it is not going to interest me, not going to make me want to look at it, make me want to understand it. Art needs some creativity and imagination, something more than simple juxtaposition. This stuff is self-conscious pretentious rubbish that could come from the most mediocre of minds and can only be appreciated as art by foolish sheep. Enough.
If one defines art as the creation of works of beauty applied to representations of the natural world or figments of imagination then the work submitted for the Turner Prize would fail this criteria. Indeed much of what is called 'modern art' appears to require little by way of imagination, talent or skill.
Sensationalism should not be confused with art and it is perhaps a reflection of the values of our society that so much of what passes for 'conceptual art' appears to be superficial, lacks substance and is therefore prosaic. It offers nether inspiration or deeper meaning.
Creed's work, though hardly novel, has a spare mystery which puts it far ahead of the usual literalist pretentions of the YBA. All types and media of art are traditions; only content can determine value not some fantasy of "advance". If sheer radical chutzpah or conceptual demand were the only criteria it would not be possible to go farther than Ryman's white painting or the "invisible show" of Yves Klein. So where are the painters? Off in a different direction waiting, as usual, for everyone else to catch up.
If only I'd known the contribution I made to art each time I went into the fridge... do you think the Turner Committee would let me claim £20,000 for each visit restrospectively?
I don't believe the Creed's unwillingness/inability to explain the thinking behind his masterpiece were an attempt to add mystique to the work. I think he was just telling the truth.
P.S. Can you tell him I want my Blu-Tack back?
Martin Creed has produced a body of very good work and is a worthy winner of the Turner Prize. My favourite piece is the one consisting of a row of metronomes each set to a progressively faster speed. Walking backwards and forwards along the row the viewer has a sensation that time is speeding up or slowing down. Tremendous noise too! I like the piece with the lights too and it was very effective when installed throughout the entire building of The Camden Arts Centre earlier this year. At night it became a sort of lighthouse on the Finchley Road. It is about light and dark, day and night, making visible the passage of time. Is there art in this? I think so.
What's more on show here is the extreme superficiality of the the whole Turner Prize event, so aptly personified by this year's presenter, Madonna. True art, just like religion, can also be highjacked, twisted and re-packaged for spurious ends. Had this work never ever made the shortlist, could anyone, hand on heart, have differentiated this "work" from any other electrical fittings in the Tate Gallery?
Has no-one noticed that the emperor has no clothes?
Whether Creed's idea consitutes art or not does not really matter, but what it has shown, as the Turner always does, is that Modern Art only has to achieve one thing to be good, and that is to be controversial.
Some self-proclaimed artist thinks of something, gets his arty buddies to show it in a gallery, and then the general public is outraged, saying that that is not art. Then the artist comes back and says that this is exactly what he wanted to achieve, a discussion of art, which reflects on how people think about the world at large. This way people are set to think and contemplate their lives blah blah blah.
An art critic on BBC breakfast this morning said that this "work" by Creed is art and Jeremy Bowen's barthroom light is not, because Creed considers himself and artist, has been trained as an artist and knows about the history of art. T
his is exactly the kind of arty farty elitist attitude that perpetuates this sort of rubbish art. The clique that is the artworld makes art only for itself so that they can pat each other on the back.
"It's art because it was created by an artist" is the usual defence for this sort of thing. Amongst all the subjects one can study this is clearly the weakest definition of achievement by the practitioner. Presumably the corollary to this argument is that a surgeon is performing surgery when he is carving the sunday roast.
We are told we don't understand, as if the intellectual content is beyond the comprehension of our small minds. Yet what is there to understand? My encounters with artists have always had me searching for single syllable words to express myself. Politics and science are always off the agenda. Forget quantum mechanics. All they ever seem to want to talk about is some silly new technique they have found, and yet they would have scientists described as narrow minded and dull.
Meanwhile, the more stupid the artist, the more pointless the art, the happier the critics. After all, it wouldn't do for the art to have a clearly defined message or for the artist to be able to articulate it: what would be left for the critics to do?
If this "art" should prompt one question it must be: who are the biggest drains on our society, artists, or art critics?
As for this being new media, I doubt Thomas Edison would see it that way. And if "new media" really is the thing, why does the art world turn its nose up at computer assisted/ generated art?
Thoroughly agree with Dr Sousa, years of familiarity with the art industry and I am still no wiser to their pretensions and concepts. The minimalist movement began many decades ago with such simple ideas, controversial at the time because of their galling lack of effort, but thought provoking in its own way. These aren't very original times it seems, old ideas die hard and lazy artists and sponsors are still trying to hoodwink the public with spurious pieces of claptrap.
RIP Britart. I believe we'll look back on the presentation of the Turner Prize by Madonna to Martin Creed as the final death-throw of the credibility of British modern art. The choice of the ultimate branded popstar to front the award shows perfectly how far removed from anything resembling art, as understood by most of the human race, this competition has become.
Leaving aside any personal opinion on the artistic merit of Mr Creed's faulty electric lights, what depressed me most was how deeply inarticulate he was when questioned about his work. Viewers who suspect that his blu-tack, crumpled paper and flickering lights are actually utterly vacuous exercises, silly in-jokes comprehensible only to others in the claustrophobic, cliquey London art world, are not going to be reassured by his incoherent mumblings.
So "Is it art"? Well if art is defined as an attempt to make a meaningful comment on some aspect of the human condition, then no it's not. I don't know what the Turner Prize judges are trying to do but I think they've finally killed off any remaining credibility they may have had. Next year why not just cut out the middle man and give the prize to David Beckham for "performance art". He can then present the prize to himself and everyone will be happy.
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