Every year the Turner Prize announces its winner and every year noone has anything good to say. I was looking at the BBC article that you can read here and came accross the comments at the end. It actually gets on my nerves that people will automatically go on to an article with preconceptions that they're not willing to change!
One comment says that they'd hate to go to any art gallery or function because of the 'pretence', another says that the winning piece will be sent to Tate Modern with all the other 'junk', and so on and so forth.
I'm the first to say that it gets on my nerves when I go to a gallery or museum and you've got the typical pretentious types "ahhh ohhh yeah great"; but guess what folks, those pretentious types 9 times out of 10 tend to be pretentious about film, music, sport, clothes, food anything you name it. So why do people think so badly about art?
Art is an interest, passion or hobby just like anything else can be. You don't have to be rich or intelligent, if you enjoy it and are interested by it why does that make you pretentious?
Also, back on topic, the Turner Prize was set up in the 80's to promote modern art. Modern art has ALWAYS got bad press so it was important to rally some support for it. People are all well and good to dislike it (I don't like half of it) but it's still important and that is precisely the reason that the Government help pay for the maintenance and running costs of things like Tate Modern. Why is it important? Because it is an example and reminder of freedom. Art represents its environment and is a visual companion to our history books. So while we have museums on contemporary history, it's only natural there are galleries of contemporary art.
We are really quite lucky to live in a country and a time where we can not only make such untraditional art but we can slate it too - but no one seems to see the power in that they just think it's a waste of time and would get rid of it given the chance. Without art trying to push the boundaries, what's to say that other areas of society would have developed into what we have now? If they didn't see the arts breaking through whats to say they would have been encouraged to move forward?
The four shortlisted this year were Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Laure Prouvost,
David Shrigley and Tino Sehgal. Yiadom-Boakye's entry was a collection of her own paintings. She says that she paints what she cannot write being a writer and poet as well. Her paintings on show were of black figures, and on her paintings she says that she paints mostly black figures because as a black woman it is simply the natural thing for her to do. The figures are placed on a dark background so that the odd white highlight here and there is powerful. The white of the eyes are quite terrifying.
Prouvost, the winner, had a dark room with a number of videos playing at intervals and some furniture. She says that it is bits and bobs of the life of her grandfather and grandmother. It may not be as skilful as Yiadom-Boakye but I get that impression that it is a powerful experience and perhaps even unsettling to get an insight into a strangers life. You're looking at it as if you should know these people but you don't and it's weird. It's a bit like having a good facebook stalk except you're not interested in who they're going out with. To have an affect whether via paint, wood, marble, furniture, words, film, whatever - that is the point. I'm not sure that I would have chosen that as my favourite but it's deserved nonetheless.
Shrigley's entry looked quite fun. It was a set-up life drawing class except the model was synthetic with un-lifelike dimensions. The visitors are welcome to sit down and use the easels in the set up studio to draw it. The images drawn were collected and hung around the set-up class on the walls.
I haven't seen Tino Sehgal's entry but if you watch the video on the BBC article then you'll see that it cannot be recorded because it is individual for everyone who enters. It is an actual spoken debate with an actor about something.