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Still Fighting Over the Turner Prize

Still Fighting Over the Turner Prize


Anish Kapoor, who won the award in 1991, said in an interview that he welcomed the Turner Prize’s political turn in the context of an art world “obsessed with money.”

“I dare to think of it as an anticapitalist move in miniature,” Kapoor said, adding that all the nominees were “very clear that theirs is a social agenda, that art can make deep and real psychic change.”

Such arguments ring hollow to the Turner Prize’s long-term critics. Michael Sandle, a self-described “radical traditionalist” who has never been nominated for the award, said, “It’s all well and good having these views, which are probably genuine — but where is the bloody art?”

“That’s what I want to see, expressed powerfully through an artist,” he said: The prize’s organizers should stop trying to “get on any fashionable bandwagon.”

But artists working together isn’t such a break with the past, said Iwona Blazwick, the artistic director of the Whitechapel Gallery, a London museum. “One hundred years ago, the avant-garde was defined by groups,” she said. “The jury was absolutely correct in recognizing that this is a very powerful, artistic impulse. It doesn’t mean that we will never see a prize for painting or a single practitioner.”

Even some of the nominated artists, however, have criticized Tate for trying to boost its credibility by embracing social justice trends. Just days after B.O.S.S.’s nomination was announced, in May, the group posted a message on Instagram accusing arts institutions of “exploitative practices in prize culture.” The statement added that, for award organizers, “Black, brown, working class, disabled, queer bodies are desirable, quickly dispensable, but never sustainably cared for.”





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