Here we go again…

If you can hear the sound of tabloid knives been sharpened, it’s because this year’s annual opportunity to bash contemporary art, the Turner Prize exhibition, is poised to open at London’s Tate Britain.


If you can hear the sound of tabloid knives been sharpened, it’s because this year’s annual opportunity to bash contemporary art, the Turner Prize exhibition, is poised to open at London’s Tate Britain.

The prize, now in its 22nd year, is known as much for the outraged headlines it provokes as for the art itself, yet despite the agonies devising it caused for juror Lynn Barber, the shortlist suggests that contemporary British art is in fine fettle, with something to please everyone, even those notoriously grumpy Stuckists whose new exhibition, Go West, is set for a timely launch later this week.

Two of the artists on the shortlist appear to be strongly influenced by the communications industries. Mark Titchner has become well-known for his graphics-inspired lightbox sloganeering, which he continues here, alongside the first London outing of his installation How to Change Behaviour (Tiny Masters of the World Come Out) (2006), which explores science and spirituality and encourages visitors to test their psychic powers.

Phil Collins (no, not that one…), meanwhile, presents a video installation exploring the complex attractions, and perils, of reality tv. The installation sees people who feel that their lives have been ruined by appearing on reality television invited to retell their stories, neatly highlighting the enduring draw of the camera. Collins has also set up a working production office, Shady Lane Productions, within the Tate’s walls, where he intends to begin constructing his next series of projects during the exhibition.

Alongside Titchner and Collins, Rebecca Warren presents a new series of her lumpen sculptures, inspired by canonic greats including Degas and Giacometti, accompanied by a group of MDF boxes containing collections of detritus such as hair and twigs which are bound to get the tabloids in a froth.

Thankfully in the next room Tomma Abts tempers this by providing a series of paintings to calm the traditionalists down. Abts constructs her works by painstakingly applying layer upon layer of paint, allowing the compositions to define themselves through the process. The results are varied, though all are abstract and many geometric in their form, but according to Abts “don’t symbolise anything”.


Not being the betting types, we won’t try and predict who’s going to walk off with the prize on December 4 here, although we would of course love to hear your opinions on that, and the exhibition generally, in our comments box. The show opens tomorrow and runs until January 14, but we recommend visiting in the next two weeks when you’ll also have the chance to see Chris Burden’s magical flying steamroller which is showing next door in the Chelsea College of Art & Design Parade Ground.

Image credits:

Mark Titchner, How To Change Behaviour (Tiny Masters Of The World Come Out), 2006
Digital print, wood, paint, metal, magnets, electrical components, quartz crystals
Dimensions variable
Courtesy the artist and Vilma Gold, London
Commissioned by Arnolfini with support from The Elephant Trust
© the artist

Tomma Abts, Teete, 2003
Acrylic and oil on canvas
48 x 38 cm
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2003.11.1
© the artist

Once again, this year’s Turner Prize catalogue, and exhibition graphics, are designed by A2/SW/HK.

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