- Tate Britain
- South East England
TURNER PRIZE 2008
What a wonderful day. …I haven't enjoyed myself so much in years. Each year as the Turner arrives I wonder what reaction the world will have and each year I feel the Turner comes under pressure….About time we gave up the cynicism, the British public love it. Their Turner has become part of our cultural history, like the Booker Prize and I'm fed up with the pretentious intellectual argument every year. Fed up with the negative, even though it is always in our face.
Art historians may debate the quality, which I shall too, I am critical as a purist visual artist, I am not commercial, and I like work that is steeped in theory. It doesn't have to be complex, but it does have to be grounded in philosophical development. In other words it has to stack up, be substantiated.
I am not a writer, I paint, I find words difficult and limited. This is why I paint, to communicate much more than words. Painting expresses my other dimensions ie: my subconscious thoughts and feelings. I am looking for work that reflects this other communication, the more ,the real the truth from the heart, and I found it. You may not like what It says or why I like it, but I demand tough truths, as life here for me is tough, no luxury or dodle, no support, no favours and no kindness. I could go on, no protective men, no one providing except me, and everyone passing judgement. With that reality check, I like my escapism as much as the rest, and other forms of culture entertain me.
May I succinctly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the works of Mark Lecky, Runa Islam and Goshka Macuga, I found pleasure within their work, the intellectual enquiry. It is an investigation and a journey but I felt shallow, they had only humoured me.
I loved the stainless steel frames and glass of Goshka, and adored the positive sensation that surged thourgh me, clean pure lines with smoked glass that has reflective qualities. I could see a ghost of myself as well as others through the glass, I thought of multidimensionality, I thought of field paintings, I ran through the concept and it felt good. It felt sophisticated civilized, developed. The public enjoyed it, appealed to their sophistication, it justified the Turner, this is what they expect. I struggled with the exterior of the room, trying to tye the two themes together, or perhaps I got that wrong..? The public seemed to see these as two separate parts and enjoyed the Nash and Agar in isolation. For me, the concept didn't come together, although I liked the rain on the walls, it seemed random and disconnected.
I am leaping a room to Runa Islams three films. I can see cinematography as an important messenger. Tate benches and a film scene, cine camera sound running and a film with a young lady who is behaving provocatively, teasing china, until it drops and smashes. I am repulsed and angered by her decadence, I see a spoil t princess and I want to shout 'silly bitch'! Thats my honest reaction, it is too tiresome, aggravating and petty, but I get it. 30yrs ago, I would have got it better,I thought. I asked two young lads about 22yrs old. Loved it, enjoyed it, made me laugh ( I thought, oh yea, just like a cheap thrill) and the other,felt angered and disliked the girl, nay detested the action. Wow, aren't they informed, this is the publics debate, and they really are involved, and engaged with the Turner.
No, this is not my winner, I experienced little, with the second film, I started to bounce on the foams square seating, was this part of the performance, it must be, it didn't make my experience clearer. Third film, I had an excellent debate with a woman that was born in India. Would the taxi cyclists have resented being paid to remain still all day by a western Indian woman. No she said, why should they, this is one day only where they didn't have to work hard, just sit and they would go home and celebrate and have energy for once for there family, an unique opportunity, oh, as life model,as I studied, my mind is stuck in viewer viewed mode: observer being observed by object observing. Releasing an argument of object or human, which should not become an object in my opinion.
I don't find deep intellectual satisfaction within this work, I begin to feel it is superficial and naive.
Oh, but its such fun, talking with the ,public, looking at the work ,checking my response, watching the public response, they are so engaged, they behave accordingly. Mostly still, watching the films, I try to soak up the atmosphere in the darkened rooms, it is electric, they appear tree like and rooted to the stump that they sit on. Quiet heads, absorbing, amused. They like this work.
Mark Lecky, now here is an intellectual. Yes, very good, so clever. This is a wonderful, interesting and witty project. Perfect in execution, ahh that must be it!
I am bored, it is not emotive. There is no chaos here, no multi tasking. It is a male focused, brilliantly executed study. It is a purist piece, but I am afraid to say I'm bored.
Ohmygod my winner is Cathy Wilkes, it couldn't be any other, such sensitivity. She has set herself a project to say what is not sayable, to show, what is not discusable. Single handedly she is attempting to address the area of the unspeakable truths. She is speaking of our state and state of mind and of the other dimensionalities. From the banal to the untouchable subconscious, the big iceberg inside you. She is speaking of the monotony, the banal head in a cage entrapment, the maids bell that is tied to your invisible apron string, of subserviency, of having your brains punched in, albeit British Gas or partner. This installation is exaggerated, over stated, but it may have to have been. How many times have I seen someone try too say so much and be ridiculed. I watch the public, expecting rejection, but see none, heighten discussions awareness and conscious thought.
This is good, they see, I see, she must win. Cathy Wilkes is trying to talk in 5 dimensions. She talks of love, through her repetitions. The heart on the floor with holes, are they moth eaten? Are they short sharp blasts of disappointment and sorrow. It is steeped in symbols, she has worked too hard, overtasking, like me. It is so obvious, can you hear this time, she seems to goad me, yes Cathy, I hear and see loud and clear, keep saying it, please don't stop, we are fooling ourselves and the truth will out and Cathy, you could be the girl to say it.
I have been unable to get images to contribute to this article due to copyright.
Donna Southern is a Visual Artist who tries to write and do everything else.