Identity Crisis : Does The Turner Prize Justify Its Own Existence

Turner Prize 2015

With each year that passes the Turner Prize battles doggedly to justify its own existence. It appears to be suffering some kind of identity crisis stemming from the decreasing relevance its entrants have on capturing the actual zeitgeist of contemporary art.

Art can be and is made from anything and by anyone – it has long defied traditionalists thus – and its central role of awarding one prize to the best seems defeated by its own object to represent the sheer diversity of art being made; how outlandish, obscure or indefinable. Therefore we have such randomness as a socially conscious architectural collective, a modern opera piece and a bunch of fur coats sewn to some chairs amongst the exhibited works. The point is not to compare such incomparable things – stuff – whatever, but to show just how wide the discipline has become, seemingly at the expense of any hope of excitement for the viewer. Perhaps in such a world a major zeitgeist capturing artist voice is impossible.

It is nice however to see the Tramway in Glasgow get some attention. Remember that YBA that once caused a Turner Prize stir (a long gone thing) with pickled things? My train went past Damien Hirst’s new venture Newport Street Gallery the other day, and my how it looks so shiny and big and sleek. Somehow that sneak has managed to divert attention back away from Glasgow to Vauxhall. I’m looking forward to seeing his vast collection on display and, interestingly, how his curating skills match up. Always capable of spotting the best art but incapable of producing it himself, I’m keen to see if Hirst can put together a comprehensible show, or if like his artworks, it looks like his kids did it… (wait, you mean they actually did?)

An ex tutor of mine once stated you can tell a good museum by the quality of its cake. See also, National Trust scones the size of boulders costing their equivalent weight in marble. Adjoining Newport Street is a new incarnation of Pharmacy, Hirst’s Hirst-themed restaurant. Time to go buy some pill-shaped cake…