Turner Prize 2012 shortlist: more 'conceptual bullshit'?

May 1, 2012
Annemarie Lopez

Star Wars re-enactment artist Spartacus Chetwynd nominated for ever-surprising art award

THE SHORTLIST for the 2012 Turner Prize has been announced and, predictably, it's bound to cause controversy. The prestigious £25,000 prize is awarded to a British artist under 50 who is judged to have put on the best exhibition of the last year. The four nominees are Luke Fowler, Paul Noble, Elizabeth Price and Spartacus Chetwynd.


Chetwynd, who re-enacts scenes from the Incredible Hulk, Star Wars and Michael Jackson videos, is certain to draw the most attention, particularly from those who criticise the Turner Prize for being, in the words of the 2002 Culture Minister, Kim Howells "conceptual bullshit".
A 38-year-old former anthropology student, Chetwynd says her performances grew out of fancy dress parties she held while at university. She now stages her performances, featuring handmade costumes (pictured) and papier-mâché props, with the aid of a troupe of 20 friends and family members.

Other nominees, Luke Fowler and Elizabeth Price, work with film and video. Glasgow-based Fowler has been short-listed for his film exploring the life and work of Sixties counter-culture psychiatrist RD Laing. London-based Price makes non-narrative, actor-free films about objects in consumer culture.

Paul Noble is perhaps the most traditional choice on the shortlist for his meticulously detailed drawings of a fictional metropolis called Nobson Newton, a place he has been drawing for over 25 years. His work depicts "a dystopian world where people become turds and turds become people", in the words of the Turner jury.
"There's an element of craft in all their work", Curator Lizzie Carey-Thomas told The Evening Standard. "Paul Noble's the most obvious in the amount of labour that goes into his incredibly detailed drawings, but you could say the same of Spartacus's hand-made costumes or in the way Luke or Elizabeth edit their films."
Past Turner Prize winners include transvestite potter Grayson Perry, shark-pickler Damien Hirst and elephant-dung painter Chris Ofili. An exhibition showcasing the 2012 nominees' work opens at Tate Britain in London in October, with the winning artist announced on 3 December.

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