- The Guardian,
- Tuesday September 30 2008
Stephen Deuchar, director of Tate Britain, reckons "the older you are, the more you like to be baffled". And certainly that could be one response to this year's Turner prize exhibition, which opens today featuring Wile E Coyote, slow-motion crockery smashes, a mannequin on the toilet and collages of other artists' work.
The Turner prize, now in its 24th year, is meant to get people talking and Deuchar, chairman of this year's judges, believes this year's shortlisted artists will do just that. "It's as powerful an exhibition as we have mounted over the years," he said.
None of the artists - Runa Islam, Mark Leckey, Goshka Macuga and Cathy Wilkes - is well known and each is tricky to compartmentalise. They use a range of media and there is not a painting in sight.
The Belfast-born and Glasgow-based Wilkes has created a sculpture called I Give You All My Money featuring two supermarket checkouts as well as items including glass bowls, jamjars, burnt wood, leftover food and hair. Two female mannequins are also there: one with horseshoes around her neck sitting on the toilet and the other with a birdcage over her head (above).
Sophie O'Brien, who curated the Wilkes room, said: "Yes, some people might be baffled, but that's a good response. They also might be surprised and intrigued and that is what the Turner prize is all about."
Leckey, born in Birkenhead, is known for his interest in different aspects of popular culture and his Turner exhibition includes Cinema-in-the Round 2006-2008, a video work which is essentially an art lecture in which the artist expounds on his fascination with the life of images on-screen and takes in everything from Chuck Jones's Road Runner chasing Wile E Coyote, and Felix the cat, to James Cameron's Titanic and Homer Simpson.
Polish-born Macuga, who trained and now lives and works in London, has delved into the Tate archive to create collages which explore the romance between the artists Paul Nash and Eileen Agar by juxtaposing Nash photographs with Agar paper cutouts.
The fourth artist is Bangladesh-born Runa Islam, best known for her film work. She has installed three video pieces, including First Day of Spring (a portrait of rickshaw drivers in Dhaka), Cinematography (shot at a film apparatus workshop in New Zealand) and Be the First to See What You See As You See It, which features a woman toying with china before edging it off the side, smashing on to the floor in slow motion.
The Turner judges will announce the winner on December 1. He or she will receive £25,000, but the attendant publicity is worth much more. Previous winners have included Mark Wallinger last year, Jeremy Deller, Grayson Perry, Steve McQueen, Gillian Wearing and Damien Hirst.
As well as being able to leave comments at the end of the exhibition, members of the public can take a badge with the name of their favoured artist. Yesterday the anti-conceptual art movement the Stuckists were once again demonstrating outside Tate Britain with their own badge reading "The Turner Prize is Crap".
• Turner Prize 2008 exhibition, Tate Britain. Today until January 18
Gallery Inside the Turner prize 2008 guardian.co.uk/artanddesign