Sunday, October 06, 2013

REACTing to Turner Prize shortlisted artists and previous winners

The four shortlisted artists for the 2013 Turner Prize will be exhibiting in Derry from 23 October until early 2014. We spent a fun afternoon at the Ulster Museum today finding out about this year’s nominees as well as previous winners.

Eilis Lavelle was giving a series of short talks (on the hour) about previous winners and introduced the audiences to some of the work by this year’s four shortlisted artists. Winners and nominees have never been far from controversy in previous years. Will the Stuckists travel across to Derry to make their annual protest at the Turner Prize? [Maybe they'll put their protest out to tender - can think of a few organisations that have experience fighting for cultural causes!] I spoke with Eilis after one of her talks …

  • Laure Prouvost’s work varies from film to surreal installations to misspelt signage. Her installations draw in audiences who are trying to figure out the story behind her work. in the audience stories, translation, and surreal moments.
  • Tino Sehgal specialises in artworks that involve real-life encounters as well as obtuseness. Since he shuns his artwork being captured on film it will be hard to convince you of the cleverness of the large scale situational choreography and the themes and messages behind his work.
  • Humour – and satire – pervade David Shrigley’s stick drawings, stuffed animals and objects. Accessible and funny enough to make me laugh out loud (a rare event) means David Shrigley gets my vote to be the winner.
  • Lynette Yiadom-Boakye paints people, from memory rather than from photographs or at long live sittings. While portraiture is well-established in the art world, her focus on black subjects makes her work stand out. Some subjects appear in multiple paintings. Apparently the more of her work you see, the more the themes and style emerges.

[The two male artists have long Wikipedia entries. Despite being shortlisted for the Turner Prize, the two women have tiny 130-160 word entries. That’ll change if they win!]

Parked outside the Ulster Museum’s front door, the REACT mobile home had been turned into a studio for Seamus Ryan to capture the facial reactions of visitors when they were shown Turner Prize works.

[Aside - Portraiture runs in the Ryan family. Louis le Brocquy painted a portrait of Seamus's relative, the actress Kathleen Ryan. before she starred in films like Odd Man Out alongside James Mason. The Ulster Museum owns the painting, but it's not currently on display. Maybe one day Seamus will be able to return to see it hanging in one of the fourth and fifth floor galleries ... perhaps alongside an exhibition of his own celebrated portraits. In the meantime, at least he got a pint in The Crown (which featured in Odd Man Out)!]

The REACT crew have already been busy at the University of Ulster Belfast campus, Armagh, Enniskillen and today at the Ulster Museum. Photographs will go online at the Turner Prize 2013 website. Folk from Derry may also find their reactions appearing on gable walls and poster sites around the city.

You can catch the mobile studio and start a conversation about contemporary art (as well as pulling faces) next week at:
  • Monday 7 October, 11am to 4pm – Dublin – NCAD
  • Tuesday 8 October, 11am to 4pm – Derry~Londonderry – University of Ulster Magee
  • Wednesday 9 October, 11am to 4pm – The Streat – University of Ulster Coleraine
  • Thursday 10 October, 11am to 4pm – Letterkenny – Letterkenny IT

The four short-listed artists will exhibit in Ebrington from 23 October to 5 January. The 2013 winner will be announced on 2 December.

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