This year’s Turner Prize nominees range from a collective selling handles, and costlier furnishings, online for 15 pounds ($23) a pop to a video display in which a woman talks about being brainwashed in Kentucky by aliens.
Since the British contemporary art prize made a leap into the bizarre by recognising Damien Hirst’s bisected cow and calf in 1995, it has been hard to predict what the judges might include among the finalists.
This year’s foursome, unveiled for a public show in Glasgow on Wednesday, is no exception.
But Sarah Munro, director of the Glasgow arts space Tramway, where the exhibition opens to the public on Thursday, says this year’s artists do not seem to be out to provoke.
“I think those days when people were out to be shocked and to shock are not where artists really are at the moment,” she said.
“Artists are interested in engaging in ideas with the public and I think what’s exciting about this edition of the Turner Prize is that it feels very now, very of the moment.”
The winner is announced on Dec. 7.
Two rooms at Tramway are given over to the Assemble collective which is displaying — and selling, through an online catalogue — items made in a workshop in a working class neighbourhood of Liverpool.
The designs are based on fixtures found in social housing, from fireplaces to sinks to cabinet handles.
Lewis Jones, of Assemble, told Reuters the group had been stunned to be included among the Turner finalists when the nominees were announced in May, but said the attention had helped to support its programme to refurbish housing in the Granby Four Streets area of Liverpool.
“We never really associated ourselves with the art world, but it’s really helped,” he said.
Bonnie Camplin’s video installation challenges viewers to think about seemingly outrageous accounts by people who say they were brainwashed by aliens, turned into a cyborg in a special government programme or survived an attempted crucifixion by a blood cult on the Orkney Islands.
Books displayed in the room around the screens are there as resource materials — for anyone who wants to probe deeper.
“The general public might find stories of travelling to Mars unbelievable but Bonnie’s approach to them is a little bit different,” said Paul Pieroni, a co-curator of the exhibition.
“I think she wants to give people the benefit of the doubt and is interested in creating a framework for these accounts that isn’t literally dismissive,” he said.
The other two finalists are a live sound work called “DOUG” by Janice Kerbel and an installation of sculptures, most of which are modern stainless steel chairs with fur coats sewn into the seat backs, by Nicole Wermers.
The exhibition runs at Tramway through Jan. 17.