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.
*overnight stay in Newcastle*
A couple of months ago, when I was staring down the barrel of six weeks of weekend overtime, I booked myself a trip to Newcastle. I’d never been there before, the new Sound & Fury show was touring, and it seemed more exciting than a trip to bloody Coventry.
Because I’m mega-poor, I stayed in a guest house which was quite securely wrapped in police tape while I was out in the theatre, so I feel like I had an authentic experience. I love the anonymity of cities, and making your way around them after dark. There’s something really liberating about being able to just say “Fuck it, I’m off somewhere new” and filling an old water bottle with wine for the journey.
The show I saw, Going Dark, was ace too. It was all about an astronomer who was losing his sight, but parts of it were performed in total darkness, and the tech stuff was perfect. There was a cool bit where the guy was talking about how the sun was formed and he made this ball of tissue paper into a big orange light in his fist. And there’s was a shaving bit right near where I was sitting. I go for beardy men and have never seen a man shave close-up before. It was kinda exhilarating. If he’d accidentally cut his throat and spun round spewing it everywhere, I’d have been covered.
This morning I went to Baltic to see the Turner Prize exhibition. It’s mental innit, contemporary art? I don’t understand how a judgement can be made about work that is made in such completely different media. I mean, it’s like asking “What’s better? The feeling of contentment one experiences after a good roast dinner or… this springer spaniel?” In one room, you’ve got some bollocks sugar paper and powder paint thing, and in the next; a video of a tower block. WHO JUDGES THIS AND WHERE ARE THE ASSESSMENT GUIDELINES? For the record, I liked the video stuff by Hilary Lloyd best, because one of the pieces was rude and another had nice lights in it. Maybe that’s how they do it. Brian Sewell sips his tea and then writes “I like the one by Hilary Lloyd that made me think of lubed-up knobs” on his voting slip.