Turner Prize 2014: Duncan Campbell wins
NEWS: As Duncan Campbell takes the £25,000 prize, we break down the Turner Prize Exhibition 2014 at Tate Britain in all its strange glory.
Even curator Lizzie Carey-Thomas confesses that the 54 minute film by Duncan Campbell is ‘quite challenging to sit through’. But of course, by now we know what we are in for with the Turner Prize and certainly compared to previous Turner Prize winners Chris Ofili’s elephant dung balls or Martin Creed’s light turning on and off, 2014 seems a pretty tame year. Even The Stuckists (the anti-conceptual art group that have coloured the Turner Prize with their protests since 2000) aren’t bothered enough to make a good showing this year. However, as always, the Turner Prize is a thrilling glance into the current trends of contemporary art and predicts the names that we should all be learning before they start to sell for millions.
The colourful and vivacious prints from Ciara Phillips, (picture above) artist and printmaker, are a highlight and a welcome respite amongst the films in the exhibition. Phillips, who was nominated for her ‘Workshop’ at The Showroom, London fills her dedicated exhibition space with hand crafted prints that are far from accidental, but carefully planned in their individual, unique qualities. Ciara Phillips’ Showroom project saw Phillips bring her printing studio into the gallery space where designers, domestic workers and members of the local community were invited to work alongside her. Collaboration is central to her work, evidenced in the pod in the centre of the room where the sound of phrases and notes made during these exchanges can be heard.
James Richards’ ‘Rosebud’ (2013), featured at the Venice Biennale last year, kicks off the exhibition with footage of the aggressively sandpapered pictures from the forbidden erotic books of a Tokyo library by Robert Mapplethorpe, Wolfgang Tillmans and Man Ray alongside softer images of flowers trailing across skin and hair. We are informed (the Turner Prize absolutely requires a manual of what how to interpret things) that the main idea behind the video is the building of suspense, as much of the action takes place just outside the frame and the soundtrack of amplified incidental noises adds to the sense of claustrophobia. Richards is also represented by a series of commercially produced blankets which picture the artist Keith Haring with his lovers and dealers, as well as a series of 35 mm slides which clunk periodically into place that picture how to apply theatrical make-up.
In contrast Tris Vonna-Michell, artist and performer, negates and revalidates his own past in the film ‘Finding Chopin: Dans l’Essex’ (2014), which explores Michell’s own German heritage through the avant-garde poet and musician Henri Chopin. Narrated by a fast spoken and anxious soundtrack, the video is a dramatic contrast to the parallel slow and sincere studio recording of ‘Post script’, a series of slides which recount the story of his artist mother in post war Germany. It was Michell that bizarrely chose to spend time in a bedsit in Leipzig during his degree, where he destroyed the photographs of his childhood with a shredder and a pair of tweezers.
Inevitably the best part of the Turner Prize isn’t even the show itself, but the polarised reactions that are sure to come when visitors are let loose on the feedback cards. Speed through the exhibition by all means, taking a moment to enjoy Ciara Phillips’ lively screen prints, but make sure you take a moment to share your confusion with the rest of us.