Turner Prize Exhibition Special Preview Highlights The Best Of British Art

Turner Prize 2014

The Turner Prize exhibition which was founded in 1984, now in its 30th year, opens on 30th September and Artlyst was there today to get a first look. The work this year is dark, dark, dark with three video and ephemera displays out numbering the lighter retro room by the printmaker Ciara Phillips.

The Turner Prize was created to promote discussion of new developments in contemporary British art. The event now alternates between Tate Britain and various venues around the country. Last year it was hosted in Derry, Northern Ireland, the first time the event was held outside of mainland Britain.

The actual prize money is £40,000 with £25,000 going to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists. The Prize is awarded to a British artist under the age of fifty and it denotes an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding 17 April 2014.

The Turner Prize is always controversial and It is intended to promote public discussion of new developments in contemporary British art. The award is widely recognised as one of the most important and prestigious prizes for the visual arts in Europe and beyond.

Past winners have included a diverse range of artists including the abstract painter Howard Hodgkin, the Multi-medium artist Damien Hirst, sculptors, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor, Video artist and Oscar winner Steve McQueen and the sound installation artist Susan Philipsz.

Last year’s winner Laure Prouvost was Nominated for her work Wantee a multi-media installation which traced a fictional grandfather’s story involving his relation to the German immigrant artist Kurt Schwitters.

This year’s nominees are, Duncan Campbell, Ciara Phillips, James Richards and Tris Vonna-Michell. The variety of media used by the four shortlisted artists this year reflects the diversity of work being made in the UK today.  Most of the chosen artists are already internationally recognised, working in many disciplines.


Duncan Campbell (born 1972) he was Scotland’s entry for the 55th Venice Biennale. Campbell’s engaging films often take provocative individuals as their subject, weaving together fact and fiction to create portraits that question the authority and  means through which history is presented. Campbell is showing ‘It for Others’ 2013 which responds to a 1953 film essay about historical African art and colonialism, Statues Also Die by Chris Marker and Alan Resnais. Diverse archive footage and new material includes a new dance work by the choreographer Michael Clark, anthropomorphic packaging and the infamous 1971 photography of Official IRA volunteer Joseph McCann. Campbell will also show Sigmar 2008 inspired by his interest in but scant personal knowledge of German artist Sigmar Polke.

Ciara Phillips (born 1976) for her solo exhibition at The Showroom, London. Phillips works with print in the broadest sense producing screenprints, textiles, photographs and wall paintings as site-specific installations. She often works collaboratively, transforming the gallery into a workshop and involving other artists, designers and local community groups. Phillips has taken inspiration from Corita Kent (1918-1986), a pioneering artist, educator and activist who reinterpreted the advertising slogans and imagery of 1960s consumer culture. Phillips is presenting a new installation, Things Shared 2014. Colourful handmade screenprints are pasted straight onto the gallery walls from floor to ceiling. A giant 3D ‘OK’ punctuates the room interrupting and redirecting our sightline. The installation combines new work with reconfigured and re-presented elements from existing projects. The title of the installation points towards Phillips’s long-standing interest in collaboration and her process driven approach.

James Richards (born 1983) for his contribution to The Encyclopaedic Palace at the 55th Venice Biennale. In his videos and installations Richards brings together a disparate range of found and original material to create poetic meditations on the pleasure, sensuality and the voyeurism that is within the act of looking. Found VHS video and new imagery undergo varying levels of manipulation and repetition and, with an accompanying soundtrack, heighten the emotional and psychological range of the original. Richards is exhibiting Rosebud 2013, where filmed censored photographs from Tokyo library books are interspersed with passages of a more tender nature. Richards will also show The Screens 2013, which features projected images from a theatrical make-up manual, and Untitled Merchandise (Lovers and Dealers) 2007. The latter transposes snapshots of lovers and art dealers who were close to artist Keith Haring on to souvenir blankets that ordinarily depict members of the US military.  

Tris Vonna-Michell (born 1982) for his solo exhibition Postscript II (Berlin) at Jan Mot, Brussels. Through fast paced spoken word live performances and recordings, Vonna-Michell creates circuitous, multilayered narratives. Accompanied by installations providing a visual script in the form of slide projections, photocopies and other ephemera, Vonna-Michell’s works are characterised by fragments of information, detours and repetitions designed to confuse and enlighten in equal measure. Vonna-Michell’s Postscript II (Berlin) is an installation based on a story about his mother’s childhood in post-war Germany with an accompanying intimate and calm monologue that reflects the personal nature of the story. Vonna-Michell also shows his first film installation, Finding Chopin: Dans l’Essex 2014 which revolves around French sound poet Henri Chopin (1922 – 2008), a reappearing figure in Vonna-Michell’s work.

This year the members of the Turner Prize 2014 jury are: Stefan Kalmár, Executive Director and Curator, Artists Space, New York Helen Legg, Director, Spike Island, Bristol Sarah McCrory, Director, Glasgow International Dirk Snauwaert, Artistic Director, Wiels, Brussels. The jury is chaired by Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain.

The Turner Prize 2014 exhibition takes place at Tate Britain from 30 September 2014 to 4 January 2015. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony, broadcast live on Channel 4 on Monday 1 December 2014.

Full review to follow

Photos: © P C Robinson Artlyst all rights reserved

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