Material, silver buttons and ratio

October 11, 2009

Currently all four nominees for the Turner Prize 2009 are exhibited at Tate Britain. The four artists are Enrico David, Roger Hiorns, Lucy Skaer and Richard Wright and there is something intriguing about all of them.

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Enrico Davids weird sculptural body on rocking chair legs. How Do You Love Dzzzzt by Mammy? 2009

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Roger Hiorns atomized yet engine. Untitled 2008

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Lucy Skaers coal sculpture. Black Alphabet 2008

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Richard Wrights labor intense wall paintings.

The most impressive for me though was definitely Roger Hiorns. Born in 1975 he graduated in 1996 from Goldsmiths, London and has lived and worked here since. When I first entered the room I saw a big mess of what looked like sand in all shades of grey. I thought, this looks nice, but what is this supposed to mean. Beside it hung some weird looking pale yellow sculptures, a bit like giant cut up sea shells. When I found out that the grey sand was actually an atomized yet engine and the sculptures were made out of plastic and powdered brain matter I was surprised. As described in the exhibition catalog Hiorns

work in sculpture is driven by his continually-evolving and analytical exploration of material and form. His works often employ a straightforward or formal material presence that is subverted by the introduction of an incongruous element, triggering a sense of the uncanny or the metaphorical.

In other words, if you know what it´s made of you think, oh! I love the way he uses materials and how they have a certain obscurity about them. You could almost say there is a bit of Beuys in his work.

In 2008 Hiorns did an amazing project. Being interested in the autogenic properties of copper sulphate and the problematic ideals of modernist social architecture, he filled an abandoned, and ready to be demolished, house in South London with 75,000 liters of liquid copper sulphate, which eventually turned into blue crystals and covered every surface. It was called Seizure and looked like this. At that time I heard about it but, even though living in South London, never went. Big mistake!

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At the end of the exhibition at the Tate was a space where visitors could leave their opinion or feedback as well as taking silver buttons with names from each artist. The only ones left where Lucy Skaers and Richard Wrights … I wonder if this says anything. Not that it matters because the judging is done by a panel of important people from the art world, whereas the public is only allowed to make recommendations for nominations. We will find out after the 7th December when the winner will be announced at Tate Britain.

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A note on the side. So far there have been 24 Turner Prize winners. The first women to win the prize was Rachel Whiteread in 1993 followed by Gillian Wearing in 1997 and Tomma Abts in 2006. 3 out of 24 seems like a pretty poor representation of contemporary British art. Surely there are more talented female artists out there? Reveal yourself, because apparently the committee can´t find you.

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