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The Turner Prize by Grace Giardia

The Turner Prize... Well, I was not as disappointed as I thought I would be. I am only disappointed in my 'go with the flow' belief that it would be a 'load of bollocks' which is the term that has attached itself to conceptual art. I had this idea in my head before I even saw the show, as most people do, but I wish I hadn't. Who was I listening to anyway..? Newspapers? Critics who aren't related to art at all? If there is only one question to justify the Turner Prize, it is: Is it conceptual Art? ..and the answer: It IS conceptual art. There is no doubt about that, whether it's good or not is left up to the viewer. Ok, with this cleared up, we can judge with an open mind, and not feel embarrassed that we all paid three pounds fifty to see it.

Every year, the hype is pushed too far, making expectations soar. The criticism is extra harsh, and not necessarily made by artists, therefore leading to misinterpretations, and anger over the money spent, while this only adds to the publicity which then raises expectations again. A vicious circle, and an unnecessary one, if I may add.
Keith Tyson lives up to the 'true artist' name. His large studio drawings represent sketchbook pages on a big scale. He describes his practice as a form of experimentation, and he reminds me of a scientist in a laboratory. He of course, does not consider himself to be a scientist. His ideas are profound conceptual concerns. He states, 'I'm fascinated by science's dogmatic determinism: the belief that any event or action, however complex- a Mozart concerto, a terrorist attack- arises from hydrogen atoms bashing together after the Big Bang.' I happen to agree, and will always respect an artist who's thoughts are busy with the search for the meaning of life.
The Thinker (after Rodin) (2001), is a monolithic hexagonal structure containing a bank of powerful computers that generates its own artificial universe. In this work, Tyson's curiosity stems from the knowledge that something as abstract and staggeringly complex as consciousness originates from and is contained within brain matter. I think therefore I am. In this case, we think therefore it is. I personally believe that universal topics are the responsibility of a good artist and Keith Tyson is ahead of the game.

Liam Gillick, in the next room, did not impress me as much. His work is very 'graphics-like' and as he decided to show the viewers his sketches for the new Porsche building design, I do not believe his intensions as an artist reach Tyson's level of understanding of the human condition. I have no doubt that he is an artist, and his coloured ceiling was very pretty. Of course it changes the environment, but is it interesting? Gillick's interest in how environments are constructed arises, in part, from a fascination with the way the formalist aesthetic and ideology of modernist architecture and design has informed the development of twentieth-century societies. This idea of a controlled city planning and interference of budget and marketing is very interesting, but I don't get it just from seeing the work, and I only wish it was more apparent in the show.

Catherine Yass, the nominee who impressed me the most, has some beautiful work in this show. Her lightbox photographs are elegant and there is no question at all to whether it's art or not. Her film, Descent (2002) was absolutely stunning to me. It is graceful and quiet, and needs no further explanation to understand its meaning. Its meaning, a human fascination with the idea of falling.

Fionna Banner, whose work is extremely obsessive but definitely necessary to the art world at this point, has her usual word-for-word descriptions of porno films on the wall in hot pink. These I have read (and visualized) many times. They are great, but the work I most appreciated were her sexy black and shiny full stops which to my surprise, we were allowed to sit and lean on. This interaction with her work brought me closer to feeling comfortable within it.

This year's show may not have been the most shocking, or impressive, or may have failed to meet your expectations but if this is the case, you should not hold such high judgements before you see it. All the artists are talented and work extremely hard to enlighten the viewer with the knowledge they have of the topic they have chosen to focus on. Let's open our minds, and let's see some art!

by Grace Giardina



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