It’s official. I am now the kind of person who gives a shit about the Turner Prize. It’s caught me by surprise a bit. I’ve been to the last couple of exhibitions, even travelling up to Newcastle for one (the provinces!), and have generally just wandered around trying to decide which artist’s work is the rudest (Hilary Lloyd and Paul Noble for, respectively, buildings that look like in-and-outy penises and big turds drawn in pencil). Then last year Elizabeth Price made a film that honoured the inherent gravitas of the handclap (I was smitten), and, today, I’m suddenly over-joyed and appalled by the 2013 shortlist.
Those are give-a-shit kind of words.
My name is Megan and I give a shit about the Turner Prize. Don’t judge me.
Firstly, I’m over-joyed because Tino Sehgal is on the list! These Associations at Tate Modern, possibly my absolute number one theatrical encounter of last year (defo top two), is nominated alongside another thing he did somewhere else, and there is no electricity bill in the world big enough to keep me from those works. The exhibition this year is in Derry - fucking IRELAND - but I’m fucking going and I’m going to spend the whole fucking day there and that’s fucking that. So excited I’m actually trembling a bit. :D
Secondly, I’m appalled because another one of my favourite artists has been nominated, which sounds like a contradiction in terms but THERE IS NO PLACE FOR DAVID SHRIGLEY IN THE TURNER PRIZE. Which is obviously no fault of his own, because his work is intelligent and relevant and unusual, despite his popularity amongst a certain generation of hipster art fans. My problem lies in that he’s also HILARIOUS. I saw the retrospective at the Hayward that he’s been nominated for, and my heart hadn’t been in it because Jeremy Deller’s adjoining retrospective had been so affecting, but I remember there being far too many people there to pontificate over modern society’s ills and not nearly enough who were there simply to have a laugh. David Shrigley makes art to have a laugh to, and I’m not sure I want that sacred headspace soiled with Turner Prize-y contemplation. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good contemplate as much as the next guy, but let’s not try to pretend that the whole point he’s making doesn’t lie right within the dark, dark joke.
LET YOURSELF LAUGH.
Some other things that have been rendered irrelevant by juxtaposition against the genius of Jeremy Deller
I also saw the Royal Academy’s David Hockney exhibition, Brightly-coloured Paintings of Trees. That guy fucking LOVES trees. Sadly, I don’t love trees nearly enough for them to pacify my wish to MURDER EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON THERE. It was the most over-crowded exhibition I have ever endured, full of KNOBHEADS. There was one fit dad there who was talking to his kids about the different types of brushstroke in the paintings though, so that was cool. If only Hockney was more like Jeremy Deller, Fit Dad would have been the focus, but instead we got another fucking room full of tree paintings and knobheads. His films were good to be fair. If only all the knobheads had pissed off, I could’ve really enjoyed chilling out and watching those.
(Hockney and some trees.)
David Shrigley, on the other hand, is one of my favourite artists. Certainly, he’s one of the artists whose work I am most familiar with, because of all the lols. I love lols, me. Unfortunately for him, I went round his exhibition immediately after having my mind completely blown by the Jeremy Deller stuff on the ground floor. I should really have done them the other way round. Shrigley’s stuff was as amusing as ever (particularly the animation of the square guy getting his corners filed off by his new circular ‘friends’), but when you’ve just watched a film about the 1984 miners’ strike, it all feels a wee bit trivial.
OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU JEREMY DELLER
And finally, Tacita Dean in the Turbine Hall at Tate. I’d convinced my parents it was worth going to the Tate Modern purely to “whizz round the gift shop quickly” as they were flagging and had started to say worrying things about going back to the hotel for “a pre-dinner lie-down”. Therefore, I didn’t really have an opportunity to settle in and enjoy the Tacita Dean projections for long. They looked fucking lovely though. I’ve been to the Tate Modern countless times, but always forget how big the Turbine Hall is. It starts to shrink in my memory every time I leave, so the pillar of colour installed by Dean is a pretty incredible sight, for reasons of scale alone.
Ummm, what else did I see this weekend…? We went to the British Museum, which is full of pots and old bits of marble. The Lewis Chessmen were my favourite because they look so beautiful, and I like the Parthenon bits because time goes blurry for me beyond a certain point (somewhere around 1650), and things start to get conceptual, like when Brian Cox talks about how far away Pluto is and a nation of women spontaneously orgasms. Covent Garden is still quite nice, although the knobheads turn up at about 11am (probably straight from Hockney at the Royal Academy) so you have to be quick. Oh, and I like mushrooms now, because we went out for dinner and they brought me mushroom risotto instead of seafood, and I’d nearly finished it before I’d noticed.
So I got an email a couple of weeks ago from a lady at Canongate Books. She’d found me on Twitter and noticed I was a David Shrigley fan so she was offering me a copy of his new retrospective collection. I was all like “ummm… I don’t really do ‘proper’ reviews anymore because I’m a cynical bastard who hates everything” but then she was like “it’s okay, we’re just trying to drum up a bit of interest on Twitter so a couple of tweets’ll be fine”. I didn’t tell her that I tried to crowd-source my dinner a while back and not one of my followers voted in either the two categories I offered. It was a fucking disaster. Had to eat pizza and a carbonara ready meal. (These hips don’t lie.)
But it is in situations such as this that I am reminded of my intention to bring down the system from within, until we are living in a left-of-centre intellectual paradise and all school leavers can distinguish between a zither and a harpsichord. SUBVERSION FOREVER! FUCK THE SYSTEM!!!
David Shrigley I love you and I’ve loved your stuff since I was about this big and I’ve already got two of your books and a poster of massive thumbs that you drew and about SIX postcards and the extra stuff in this book that I’ve never seen before is amazing, especially the bell that you ring when Jesus comes back and the one with Newcastle in between heaven and hell and the pigeons Timmy the squirrel has fucked and I am an Arts Management student so I would like to do work experience with you as your assistant/tea maker/paintbrush cleaner/whatever. I also think you would win in a fight with Antony Gormley who is a twat.
So yeah. This book’s okay I guess. Might tweet about it. Might not. Whatevs.