2001 Turner Prize Winner - art or farce?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Charis, Oct 21, 2002.

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  1. Charis Jedi Youngling

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    Jun 29, 2002
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    The Turner Prize is a British modern art prize. It has always been controversial but last year the judges really pushed the boat out IMHO :)

    There are few articles on the winning work because there is so little to say about it. This is the best of what I could find:-

    Michael Creed (BBC)

    I am at a loss as to how to classify this piece - an empty room with a light connected to a 5 second timer switch. Is this really worthy of an award? Is it art?
  2. LadyVader81 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2001
    star 6
    I dont know what other ones were up for the prize and this is just my personal taste but I would not classify it as art.

    I have seen a few pieces of art while in Spain or France, and I like pieces with more contrast or different shapes to them.
  3. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
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    Interestingly enough, humor columnist from the Miami Herald, Dave Barry wrote an entire column about this piece. It was a few months ago, but I feel that it really sort of summed up the ludicrous elements of this kind of 'art.'

    It's really pretty darn hypocritical, cause it's not even a readymade, seeing as how the artist interferes by turning the lights on and off. So, it can't claim to be one of those works that attempts to distance it's subject from it's context and see the beauty in it.

    If the artist was going to interfere, he might as well have really done something deeper than just turning the lights on and off. . .
  4. GivePeaceAChance Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 18, 2002
    star 1
    I haven't seen the work in question, so I can't judge it on the basis of a report. Whilst it sounds ridiculous, I can think of similar works which are equally ridiculous, such as displaying a urinal, putting a lobster on a phone, painting a canvas entirely red or composing a song which consists entirely of silence - all of which are now classics. The nearest I've come to a work like this is an installation I saw in Tate Liverpool a few years ago. You walked into a room, at the other end of which was a small notice. You walked over to the notice, which described a political execution by beheading. At the end of the note, it said that it is believed that you remain conscious for so many seconds after being beheaded. The light bulb was set on a timer for exactly that time. Just as I finished reading the note, the light went out. It was a very unnerving installation.

    I don't know what this artist was trying to achieve but unless I experience it myself, I don't see how I can say whether it is art or not (whatever that question actually means) or whether it deserved the prize. I am always wary of falling into the trap of making knee-jerk responses to apparently absurd installations. The Turner prize was set-up to promote experimental art, so it is not exactly surprising that such a piece won really.
  5. Charis Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2002
    star 6
    Interesting viewpoint GPaC :) I have seen the work referred to and all I could see was an empty room with a light going on and off. No substance to it. But now you have given me something to think about.
  6. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    The urinal you mention is of course a readymade, which Creed's work doesn't seem to be. The song consisting of silence and the entirely red canvas are also readymades, in a sense . . .

    Interestingly enough, it's hard to judge a work like this coming from our own time, because I get the feeling it must be heartless, at least compared to the absurdist art of previous decades.

    Birds in an Aquarium had a point at least, was trying to say something. I wonder what exactly that Creed has found so horrific in society today that he needs to rebel against it. The Dadas had World War I and I think we'll all agree it was shattering.

    Absurdity alone doesn't make art, and that's the trap a lot of new artists are falling into. They look at the masterpieces and think they can do the same, but they forget the time and the message of the artwork they're looking at.
  7. Jedi knight Pozzi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2000
    star 6
    I recall making a thread about this last year.

    "I can't explain it. The lights go on and off. I like it, it's full of life. I don't know what other people think of it."

    He doesn't know what other people think about it, when even he can't explain it?
    Couldn't he guess?
  8. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    On the one hand I see where he's coming from, but techinically I would say that an empty room with the timing of the lights regulated strictly by machinery is about the least "full of life" thing you'll find anywhere.

    Is it the regularity that he finds lifelike? The rhythm? Perhaps the emptiness? If so, then it is making a deep statement, but it's not one you really "like" in my opinion, since it's a depressing statement.
  9. Charis Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2002
    star 6
    I also wondered what he was trying to convey when I was actually standing in that room. It was impossible for me to figure. It was clinical and ordered - 5 seconds on, 5 seconds off, over and over. But I guess my life is just not that organised and frankly, I was not surprised when Creed actually admitted that he wasn't sure what it was about and that it was up to the actual observer to find their own meaning.

    Of course, approaching and leaving the room had more meaning for me - the light continues to happily go on and off without the observer affecting it in anyway. But I can't help feeling that I'm trying to find meaning where there isn't any.
  10. GivePeaceAChance Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 18, 2002
    star 1
    But I can't help feeling that I'm trying to find meaning where there isn't any. Maybe that's the point? From what little I know about Creed (balls of paper and bluetack) he de-intellectualises art - so we should not expect the same kind of articulation of artistic intent that we might get from the surrealists. His 'I don't know what it is about' stance strikes me as part of his own self-fashioning as an artist. I think if I were a Turner prize judge, after going round various earnest experimental installations, I might be quite glad to find a piece so devoid of pretension.
  11. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Devoid of pretention Hmm, do you mean pointless, with nothing to say . . .

    Forgive me for believing in responsibility but I'd lean more toward art that says something even if it's as simple as Matisse's philosphy of art as "a comfortable arm chair to a tired business man."

    I'd better come away from a piece of art either stirred or calmed or, to be blunt, it's pointless . . .

    You've got a voice, you've got a forum, you've got a name that people might listen to . . . for crying out loud, say something! Don't just turn the lights on and off and spout mumbo jumbo about not knowing what it means yourself. If you don't know what it means, then, face it, it doesn't mean a thing.

    Art has such a power to uplift and to speak to society that it just disturbs me to see it be used by someone who just seems so enamored of himself that he thinks he's important without saying anything.

    It's akin to walking into a judicial session and shouting nonsense syllables rather than presenting a case for what you believe . . . We wouldn't defent that action, I don't think, so why defend the artistic equivalent.
  12. Charis Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2002
    star 6
    I can see what you are saying GivePeaceaChance but I think I'm finding myself more in favour of Rogue's perhaps more traditional view.

    I just cannot help having the view that an artist produces art because he is inspired - whether that be by a philosophical or visual concept, but still inspired. Therefore, Creed should have been able to put some points forward for his work even if simplistic ones: day/night, life/death etc.
  13. GivePeaceAChance Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 18, 2002
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    I'm playing devil's advocate, because I haven't even seen the installation. But the whole debate intrigues me, particularly because of the questions it raises about the value of art. What Creed's work does do is to put the responsibility for making meaning onto the recipient, onto us. One of the issues that has been raised in this thread is Creed's intentions. If Creed could spin a few lines about it along the lines of 'this is a work about postmodern space. The alternation between dark and light is the alternation between life and the void. The room appears to be empty, but the timer controls the way we perceive space. The artist, apparently effaced by the lack of an object, returns as the inexorable, invisible force controlling the light. It is a cruel joke, but it is also describes a fundamental truth about industrialised modernity.' Then there might be a way of engaging with the work at the level of ideas. But the intellectual content is as empty as the gallery space - which puts the responsibility firmly in our hands to do the work ourselves. This installation is obviously an extreme case, but a lot of art and literary theory in recent years has revolved around questions of how meaning is made and what the function of the artist/author really is. A classic example is the fake Rembrandt. A picture which has been admired for years in galleries and reproductions is suddenly proved to be a fake. Overnight, it is no longer a masterpiece but a worthless copy. Yet for years people saw meaning in it and thought that they had some grasp of the artist's intent. How does a work of art, which has not materially changed, move from being great to being worthless? What does this say about the ways in which 'meaning' is contingent upon the act of reception rather than creation?
  14. Charis Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2002
    star 6
    Interesting.

    Personally, I see a value in the fake Rembrandt - it has a purpose and obviously served that purpose well. Perhaps there is an embarrassment and anger factor in that particular case which makes some people class it as worthless. Still, the work was inspired by Rembrandt. The attitude towards fakes in general varies greatly.
  15. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
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    All art is subjective. I wouldn't have a problem with Creed's work if he had just kept his big yap shut and not admitted that he had no clue what it meant himself.

    I disagree with artist's statements. I don't think they should be necessary. One should be allowed to make meaning out of a work that is not necessarily related to the meaning that the artist had in mind.

    But the key is that there was some meaning in mind when it was produced. If Creed had kept his mouth shut, then I could have appreciated it and studied it and wondered, "What's he trying to say?"

    Now, however, I know what he's trying to say: nothing. Creed has nothing to say. Therefore, there is nothing to study.

    One could draw parallels between life/death, cycles of the universe, the rhythyms of life, etc etc, but why bother? Every time I look at it and think, "I wonder if it means (insert idea)," I hear Creed saying, "It means nothing. I'm not saying a thing."

    And that stifles the creative processes.

    Perhaps, the work of art I can except, but Creed's comments should have been left unsaid if he wished anyone to take him even remotely serious.
  16. halibut Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 27, 2000
    star 8
    As a musician, I would like to point out a slight misunderstanding in John Cages 4'33"

    It is NOT 4 and a half minutes of silence, but rather 4 and a half minutes of an audience's reaction to silence. The purpose of the piece is to get the listener to listen to the music of the surroundings.

    I thank you for listening :)
  17. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Exactly the conception of a readymade. Distancing an object from it's context and seeing the beauty in it.

    I wasn't sure about the song, so I didn't pursue it, but it's really nothing more than a audio readymade, from the way you talk about it.
  18. Dead_AsaDoorNail Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2002
    star 1
    From the bbc website:

    "Cold, mechanical, conceptual bull****" is how culture minister Kim Howells has described this year's Turner Prize entries.
    The Tate Modern exhibition "infuriated" and "disappointed" Mr Howells and he pinned a frank note to a message board at the gallery on his way out.

    After studying art for four years in the 60s, the Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting believes British art is "lost" and we need to invoke more passion about it.

    He laments that plain speaking is always missing from discussions about art; and to make amends, compared Liam Gillick's "very, very boring" perspex roof to a canteen ceiling and said he wouldn't cross the road for Keith Tyson's sculptures.

    Mr Howells recognises that this is the work that sells and that modern artists are shaped by the tastes of their teachers but called for a creative revolution to "blow them out of the water."

    Do you find Mr Howells' frankness refreshing or limiting? Are his views old-fashioned to you or truthful? How much credibility does the controversial Turner Prize have with you?
  19. Charis Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2002
    star 6
    Not sure about the teacher part 8-} A lot of students rebel against their teacher's ideas and aim to be very individualistic.

    Personally, I find his comments refreshing and looking at the pictures on the bbc website, his Note Pinned to a Board would actually have a good chance of winning the prize itself ;)

    There is only one entry this year that I actually like and that's from Fiona Banner BBC website article. A bizarre work but I can actually understand the attraction and hope to get to see it for myself shortly. It is very much a feminine piece in both content and colour.

    The Turner Prize is more about bizarre expression. It is hard for me to keep an even view on it - when looking at some of the entries, I find myself wondering if the Turner Prize has gone beyond the fringe into the just plain weird in order to justify its existence. There is this habit of entrants to justify their work by the over use of metaphysical comparisons. Perhaps that is why Creed so shocked me - it's just a room with lights going on and off - no disguise, just plain talk.
  20. GivePeaceAChance Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 18, 2002
    star 1
    his Note Pinned to a Board would actually have a good chance of winning the prize itself He should have used Creed's bluetack!

    Charis, maybe you could let us know what you think of the works when you see them, for those of us who live too far from the Tate?
  21. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    Charis, are they at Tate Modern or Tate Britain?
  22. Charis Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2002
    star 6
    Tate Britain DA, but I always think it should be at the Modern - but yep, Britain. Tate Website

    Sure :) It's possible that our FF will be having a meet involving visiting the Tate so hopefully more people will post in here with their views :)
  23. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    I'm pleased it's at Tate Britain.

    1st, TB is now especially for British art and the Turner Prize is nothing but British.

    2nd, I'm taking my year 10s to Tate Britain in a few weeks so get to see it again!!!! :D
  24. aardvark Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2002
    star 1
    I have a soft-spot for the TB but I am a fan of the Tate Modern. The Turner prize seems more appropriate to the kinds of exhibitions typical of the TM, imo.
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