A world fit for turds

Paul Noble Pauls Palace 1996

Paul Noble, Paul’s Palace, 1996

When the Turner Prize shortlist is announced I generally have an opinion about who I want to win. When the actual Turner Prize exhibition opens, even before I get to see the show myself, that opinion often changes based on snippets seen on the news or reviews in the paper. And of course when I finally get round to seeing the show, more often than not my opinion shifts yet again. By then there are often two names in my head: the artist I want to win and the one I think will take the prize.

In a way, from the safe distance of not having seen the exhibition yet, I really wanted Paul Noble to win the 2012 Turner Prize, not for the work on show at Tate Britain but for the preposterous totality of the Nobson Newtown project: two decades, give or take a bit, of incredibly detailed drawings of an often dystopian world populated by strange turd-like creatures (as a description that does somewhat beg the question of quite what a utopia for turds would look like but this isn’t something I plan to consider further, or certainly not here).

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Closing the gaps

Elizabeth Price, The Woolworths Choir of 1979, 2012

Elizabeth Price, The Woolworths Choir of 1979 (still), 2012

With the end of the year rapidly approaching and with the start of the academic year having provide rather too hectic for me to manage regular blogging as well, now seems like a good time to close some of the gaps by looking back at some of the art I’ve seen but not written about this in 2012. And where better to start than with the Turner Prize – which in fact I have already written about but for MostlyFilm rather than here – and with the work I correctly predicted would win. Of the work in the Turner Prize exhibition, other than Paul Noble’s Nobson drawings which I’ve seen from time to time over the years that he’s been making them, it was Elizabeth Price’s The Woolworths Choir of 1979 and that I was most familiar with having seen it quite by accident at MOT International earlier in the year. That encounter was an intriguing one; I’d headed to Bond Street to see, I think, Nancy Holt or maybe Jamie Shovlin at Haunch of Venison and had a enough time to spare to pop in to MOT without having checked what was on there.

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Dirty work

Mark Dion, Tate Thames Dig, 1999

In 1999 the process of transforming what had once been Bankside Powerstation into Tate Modern was well underway. Tate had long since needed more space in which to show its two collections – the national collections of British Art and of Modern Art (here considered to be post-1900) – and the new space was eagerly anticipated. The collections would at last get their own spaces, each museum facing the Thames one from Millbank on the northern bank, the other from Bankside, further east and on the southern bank of the river.

In anticipation of the new space, Mark Dion adopted the role of archaeologist to create the installation Tate Thames Dig, initially shown in the Art Now room at what was then known as the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain).

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Everything and nothing at all

the whole world + the work = the whole worldMartin Creed, Work No. 232: the whole world + the work = the whole world, 2000

There are two ways to see this. Clearly if A + B = A then B = 0, so in Martin Creed’s equation the work can definitely be read as nothing at all. But is art really a big fat zero? And if it is, is the outside of a major art museum the place to say it? Well, let’s try again…

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Lost in a world of lost people

Mike Nelson, Coral Reef, 2000

There’s a slightly shabby door in Tate Britain that leads into another world. It’s a world that allows me in but never makes me feel welcome. It’s a world I wouldn’t want to live in, or even be in when anyone’s home, but one I love to visit. And, if the Tate website is accurate (not something that can guaranteed given its longstanding confusion about the whole thing), it’s a world that is only accessible until Sunday.

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