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Turner Prize shock – there is no shock


turner.jpgBritain’s Turner Prize prides itself on whipping up the art world’s equivalent of a storm each year with exhibits that are often designed to shock and upset. The only shock this time around, it seems, is that there is no shock.

Sure, Cathy Wilkes has a mannequin sitting cross-legged on a toilet as part of her installation, but critics are saying that that’s about as close as the four shortlisted artists come to anything like controversy. Let’s not forget, the annual award has been won recently by a man in a bear suit, a shed-cum-boat-cum-shed and an empty room in which the lights go on and off.

“Turn up, tune in and drop off,” writes Times art critic Rachel Campbell-Johnston. She likens the experience of seeing the Turner Prize exhibition at London’s Tate Britain gallery to the returns desk at Ikea on a Monday morning: “Lots of frustrated people will be left staring at a pile of inscrutable junk.”

Richard Dorment in the Telegraph is also underwhelmed. “Who cares who wins?” his piece is titled, and opens with a description of all four artists’ work as “technically competent, bland and ultimately empty art made specifically for international biennales.”

People running. Is it art?


martin-creed.jpgThe ”Is It Art” debate is up and running again in the UK. Unsurprisingly, it involves Martin Creed, a conceptual artist who most famously won the Turner Prize in 2001 for his installation of an empty room with a light switching on and off.

Well, Creed is back, this time with a work involving runners sprinting the length of Tate Britain’s neo-classical galleries (86 metres in all) at 30 second intervals. 50 people earning $20 an hour will keep “Work No 850″ going for the next four months or so, and the gallery has warned visitors not to interfere with the sprinters. It will be interesting to see how they cope on a crowded Sunday afternoon.