Elizabeth Price 'worthy winner' of the 2012 Turner Prize

Dec 4, 2012

Film about supermarket fire that killed ten people deserved to win contemporary art prize, say critics

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ELIZABETH PRICE'S painful, elegiac film about a 1979 fire at a Manchester supermarket that killed ten people is a "worthy winner" of this year's Turner Prize, says The Guardian.

The newspaper's art critic Adrian Searle says it has been "a good year" for the often controversial contemporary art prize, but The Woolworth's Choir of 1979 by Bradford-born Price deserved to come out on top in a strong field.

"Her use of footage from the fire itself never feels voyeuristic or meretricious," says Searle. "She does a great deal in 20 minutes. Its complexity has stayed with me."

Price, 45, is the least well known of the four artists shortlisted for the £25,000 prize which is awarded annually to a visual artist under the age of 50 working in any medium.

Backed by the "hand-clapping, finger-snapping" music of 60s group the Shangri-Las, her film offers "a terrific play of words and images, and switches in tempo".

After being handed the prize by actor Jude Law at a ceremony at Tate Britain last night, Price said she was interested in video as "something you experience sensually... that you feel as a dramatic, flowing kind of surge."

The Daily Telegraph's Mark Hudson is pleased the Turner judges didn't award the prize to the favourite – Paul Noble – and opted for Price despite the fact her work can be "slightly arid, academic and a little too clever for its own sake". Even so, he says, "It is the work of a genuinely interesting talent, who finally was the only realistic winner for this year's Turner Prize."

The BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz agrees, hailing Price's film as a "moving, haunting and disturbing installation" and a worthy winner of the prize.

The Daily Mail seizes on Price's past – as a member of the obscure pop group Talula Gosh – to declare "Eighties pop star wins Turner Prize". It also takes the opportunity to describe the artist's inclusion of "old clips of pop music records" in her film as a "wacky twist".

Writing in The Times, Rachael Cambell-Johnston says Price makes a "disconcerting winner", but a worthy one all the same. "What makes this work compelling is the way that through a slow process of insistent accretion, fragments of subject matter can be brought together, visually and acoustically, to create something that feels far more significant than the sum of its parts."

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