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Let’s call the Turner Prize what it really is – an uninspiring ode to a multimedia world

7 May 2014

11:34 AM

7 May 2014

11:34 AM

The Turner Prize shortlist has been announced, and includes a video artist who uses YouTube clips, an artist who pairs spoken word with slide shows and photography, and a historical documentary about African art. Among the four nominees for the most ‘prestigious and provocative’ contemporary art prize, not one of them is a traditional painter or sculptor. In short, the Turner Prize seems to have morphed into a film and photography prize.

The Tate seem to be aware of this. The nomination announcement said the four artists’ methods ‘suggest the impact of the internet, cinema, TV and mobile technologies on a new generation of artists’. Of course, there’s no reason why a piece of sculpture or a painting can’t respond to the onslaught of multimedia too. It’s just the Tate know they can capture an audience for longer if films, rather than static works, are exhibited. And given the entry fee this year is an extortionate £11, they’ll be wanting to make sure their long-suffering audience feel they’ve got their money’s worth.

The Turner Prize has for a long time laboured under the myth that it champions the best contemporary British art. This myth has been propped up by two things: that the prize is held in one of Britain’s finest national collections, and the association with J.M.W Turner. The Tate may think of itself as progressive by focusing so heavily on film and photography, but in fact the opposite is true. It is simply a tedious way to draw out an exhibition. After all, the traditional arts can be employed to criticise the modern world just as forcefully as new-fangled media can. By refusing to acknowledge this, the Tate pounds another nail into the coffin of this dreary, uninspiring prize.

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Show comments
  • Cornelius Bonkers

    An ugly world breeds ugly people with ugly ideas. And photography and video – what’s all that about? The king’s new clothes doesn’t come near to describing it’s value and reason for existence. That Damien Hirst is just an opportunist salesman – god help us all…

  • Paul Dove

    If you don’t like “new fangled media” Lara, why don’t you write your next blog on a wax tablet or piece of papyrus?

  • Picquet

    I have always been astonished that the name of Turner (whose own work is immensely inspiring) is associated with this annual outpouring of dismal rubbish. Never, ever, has it resulted in anything new, original, artistically credible, and good.

  • anncalba

    Let’s call the Turner prize what it really is – a metro centric celebration of talentless twaddle, puffed up by self appointed “experts|” using overblown, meaningless jargon to promote overblown meaning less tat. Which is then bought by people with much more money than sense to impress other people as daft as themselves.

  • mitate

    for some while now the turner has had little to do with modern art as most art followers understand it. the painting or sculpting required for modern art involve skills that have been largely rejected by entrants. but let’s still call it a contemporary british art prize to keep ’em happy.

  • The Red Bladder

    Surely it is named the Turner Prize after a completely different Mr Turner? For myself I have always believed it to be no more than a modern version of the tale of the Emperor’s new clothes.