• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

Turner Prize

ByAlys Gilbert

Dec 6, 2015

Tramway, Glasgow: Until 17th January


The Turner Prize, best known for launching some of Britain’s most acclaimed artists into the limelight is, for the first time, exhibiting its nominees in Scotland. 2015 brings the prize, which is in its thirty-first year, to the Tramway in Glasgow.

A prize that has propelled the careers of artists such as Anish Kapoor (1991), Damien Hirst (1995) and Grayson Perry (2003), allows the prospective viewer to justifiably expect a collection of work that is little short of miraculous. This year’s nominees, Nicole Wermers, Bonnie Camplin, Janice Kerbel and Assemble, do not disappoint with a diverse mixture of style and medium. The only element that appears to tie the artwork together is their performative and interactive nature.

The gallery is a perfect choice of location for a show that each year aims to present the most inspiring invention in the art sphere. First impressions of the space offer little more than the classic white cube style, but this is juxtaposed with the dizzying height of the gallery walls and the industrial flooring, still complete with tramlines, that echo the building’s history.

Nicole Wermers is nominated for her works ‘Untitled Chair’ and ‘Sequence’ from a recent show entitled Infrastruktur. The show displays a collection of re-upholstered chairs designed by Marcel Bruer for Bauhuas, each with a vintage fur coat draped over the backrest. The linings of the coats have been replaced with a luxurious silk to match the upholstery; they have been sewn to the chair to create a sense of permanence. This work, in conjunction with two wall ceramics that are said to mimic tear off street posters but which offer little in the way of aesthetic, comments on issues surrounding consumerism and intend to turn ‘social phenomenon’ into eternal forms. The careful consideration of placement of the chairs in conjunction with the generous space given to the exhibit really contribute to the effectiveness of the work; the viewer feeling at once both included and excluded.

Janice Kerbel’s work, ‘DOUG’, falls into the genre of performance art. The piece consists of nine songs performed by six singers. The recital is repeated throughout the day, each time varying in order and are designed to exhibit a series of ill-fated events that happen to an entirely imagined body. Kerbel intermingles all forms of art in this piece; performance, music and poetry feature side by side to bring the work to fruition. In this sense it’s a very powerful piece. The work is in many ways more powerful when the singers are not present; the black music stands stand in a semi-circle in stark contrast to the white walls, quite eerily. Accompanying the performers is a framed collection of the lyrics on the wall that serves its purpose and a paper piece that sadly offers little in the way of aesthetic or real use.

Assemble, a collective of eighteen artists from London have joined forces to create the ‘Granby Workshop’, an extension of their pre-existing project to save the dilapidated houses and community of Toxteth, Liverpool. The team have taken the nomination as an opportunity to launch trade of goods created as collaboration between the artists and community members with the intention to bring in more money and jobs. The exhibition space loses the white box entirely, instead creating a homely environment. Everything from textiles to ceramics is on offer. Assemble’s project is truly uplifting, organic and honest.

Bonnie Camplin, whose work is somewhat harder to find, is nominated for her work ‘Patterns 2015’ that considers the extraordinary experiences of interviewee’s, exploring the notion of truth and insanity. The room appears like an office; a bay of computers is surrounded by documents and books intended to provide evidence to the stories. The space is ritualistic, performative and interactive; first impressions make the viewers appear part of the installation as they watch the televisions intently.  There is something hypnotic about the quality of this work.

Each year the Turner Prize strives to present the most innovative works of the twelve months that precede it: this year is no exception. It is only fitting that the work should be shown in Scotland, home to so many previous nominees. The Tramway is an equally apt choice; a space that has inhabited so much performance throughout its history as both a theatre venue and tram shed. It is hard to judge who will take the prize but easy in equal measures to recommend it as a wonderful representation of talent and ingenuity.


Image Credit: London Visitors WordPress

By Alys Gilbert

MA Fine Art (with History of Art) Theatre Editor

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