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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 17:17 GMT
Empty room up for Turner Prize
Creed's The Lights Going On and Off
Creed uses everyday objects in his work
An empty gallery with a pair of flashing lights looks set to dominate discussion of this year's Turner Prize show, which opens in London on Wednesday.

The installation, The Lights Going On and Off, is Martin Creed's contribution to the show displaying the work of the shortlist for the 20,000 prize.

 Nelson's The Cosmic Legend of the Uroboros Serpent
Show features Nelson's The Cosmic Legend of the Uroboros Serpent
Creed is joined by fellow installation artist Mike Nelson, video artist Isaac Julien and photographer Richard Billington on the list.

The annual show at Tate Britain consistently attracts attention, with Tracey Emin's installation of her bedroom - My Bed - causing a stir in 1999.

Simon Wilson of Tate Britain acknowledged that Creed's installation would generate a lot of interest, but said that they cannot please everybody.

"We just can't win," he said.

"One year we have dirty knickers and an unmade bed and people complain, now we have something as pure and simple as this and people will still complain."

Vagabondia
Julien: Formerly made conventional films and documentaries
This year's award will also be in the spotlight, with pop diva and art fan Madonna presenting the prize on 9 December.

Critics have hinted that Londoner Mike Nelson is the artist to watch on this year's shortlist.

His contribution to the exhibition is called The Cosmic Legend of the Uroboros Serpent, which at least one visitor mistook for the store rooms of Tate Britain.

It also contains a plastic cactus, mirrors, doors and old tabloid newspapers with declarations of war, an array of army helmets and scrawled graffiti-like comments including "failed Marxist" and "this is crap".

Film-maker Isaac Julien exhibits his two video installations, The Long Road to Mazatlan and Vagabondia.

Stuckists
The Stuckists: Now have 40 groups in different countries
Mr Wilson described the former as "an exploration of notions of masculinity as portrayed in Western film" and depicts a pair of cowboys swimming and hitch-hiking down a desert highway.

The film was the subject of a bitter artistic dispute over copyright between Julien and his one-time collaborator, the Venezuelan-born choreographer Javier de Frutos.

The pair fell out over who had contributed most to the work with Julien obtaining a high court writ against de Frutos claiming formal recognition of his copyright for the film.

The issue was only recently resolved, allowing the work to be displayed at Tate Britain.

Richard Billingham, best-known for his photographic portraits of his family, is exhibiting landscape photographs and two video projections, Tony Smoking Backwards and Ray in Bed, Untitled Triptych.

Ray in Bed is a home video featuring Mr Billingham's alcoholic father reluctantly waking up as his wife brings him a cup of tea.

Mr Creed's previous work has included crumpled balls of paper and Blu-tac sculptures.

Wilson said that he sees his minimal work as a counterpoint to the hectic, commercial world and that he "wants to make art that doesn't just contribute to clutter".

Ray in Bed
Billingham: Known for his portrayals of his family

But the prize is known for attracting controversy, and this year The Stuckists, a group protesting outside the gallery about the shortlist's lack of painters, have voiced their concerns.

"I just realised the way forward was that these things don't reach the depths or have the expressive power that painting still has," a member of the group told BBC News Online.

The Turner Prize was established in 1984 by the Tate's Patrons of New Art and is intended to promote new developments in contemporary British art.

It offers a prize to a "British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work".

The winner will be chosen by a jury chaired by Tate director Nicholas Serota.

This year's jury consists of:

  • Patricia Bickers, the editor of Art Monthly
  • Stuart Evans, representative of the Patrons of New Art
  • Robert Storr, Senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • Jonathan Watkins, director of the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

    The winner will be announced at Tate Britain during a live broadcast by Channel 4.

    The show at Tate Britain runs until 20 January 2002.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Rosie Millard
    "If it needs explaining, it's bound to be up for the Turner"
    The BBC's Razia Iqbal
    "This year's shortlist has the perfect target for the critics"
    See also:

    03 Apr 01 | Arts
    Tate leads museum boom
    02 Apr 01 | Arts
    Tate team wins major award
    30 May 01 | Arts
    Don't worry, it's Blu-tac
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