Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who's Who and What's What in This Year's Turner

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who's Who and What's What in This Year's Turner

Article excerpt



Who? Jeremy Deller, born in London in 1966, trained as an art historian at the Courtauld Institute of Art. A familiar figure on the art scene, he is best-known to the public for The Battle of Orgreave, a recreation of a key clash in the miners' strike, that he filmed in collaboration with director Mike Figgis. He also invented the musical genre Acid Brass, by getting traditional brass bands to play adapted Acid House tunes.

What? Deller is one of a new breed of artists who do not so much make traditional works of art but instead operate more loosely in the cultural environment, collaborating on diverse projects and curating shows.

Encouraging social interaction in the making and appreciation of the work is key. At Tate Britain his display includes Memory Bucket, a video shot in George Bush's home state of Texas, as well as a pile of books you can browse, most focusing on the invasion of Iraq and the war on terror.

Verdict One of the most interesting artists on the shortlist, Deller's subjects are broad, timely and occasionally amusing, but are his artistic investigations of serious themes anything more than the intellectual equivalent of doodling? His political subject matter and interactive style of work will probably prove a hit with the judges - an acceptable winner given the rather thin shortlist.

Odds: William Hill's favourite at 6/4.


Who? Yinka Shonibare was born in London in 1962, moved to the Nigerian capital of Lagos when he was three, and trained at Byam Shaw School of Art and Goldsmiths College. His work has almost exclusively focused on racial and cultural identity.

What? Many artists have a signature emblem; Shonibare's is the use of highly patterned and coloured batik fabric long associated with West Africa but actually introduced to Africa by British manufacturers via Dutch colonisers in the 19th century. It stands as a visual metaphor to question ideas of origins and authenticity.

Typically he dresses Western figures in batik costumes for his sculptural installations, whether astronauts or, as in the Turner Prize Show, the girl from Jean-Honore Fragonard's painting The Swing, and a group of ballet dancers in his first film, Un Ballo in Maschera. This supposedly disrupts our assumptions about the dominance of Western culture and history.

Verdict Though generally colourful and inoffensively decorative, Shonibare's focus on cultural identity is laboured, repetitive and a little last decade.

The departure into film is visually interesting but intellectual feebleminded. Though not the best artist on the list, Shonibare's personal popularity and worthy concerns should play well with the judges, making him a serious possibility for the prize. …

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