Protesting Streaker Disrupts Turner Prize




The streaker, Mark Roberts, who disrupted last night’s Turner Prize announcement and was arrested by police has turned out to be a 46 year old grandfather from Liverpool. Roberts had scrawled the cryptic slogan, ‘Study This’ on his belly and was escorted away before he could disrupt the awards ceremony by doing a dance. In a statement today Roberts said; “The Turner Prize is about controversy, contemporary art, pushing yourself in an artistic sense, and that’s what I do every time I perform. I am an artiste”. He has apparently streaked 505 times including at The Winter Olympics, two World Cups and at several rugby and football matches. Celebrated fashion photographer Mario Testino was mid-announcement. He was swiftly dragged away by two security guards. Testino laughed off the incident, saying ‘Art is everywhere’.
 
Testino had already let the cat out of the bag, making the ‘M’ sound before the streaker shouted out and stopped him. This made the incident doubly confusing, with many guests assuming that the commotion was Boyce’s family and friends celebrating. Others thought that Testino might have failed to follow script, and the interruption was Baltic/Tate/Ch4 officials calling out to stop him revealing the winner too soon.
 
After the incident, as the after-party kicked off, police officers were called to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, and arrested a 46-year-old from Liverpool ‘on suspicion of disorderly conduct’. He has since been released on bail.
 
The precise purpose of the protest is unknown, but the words ‘study this’ suggest that it may have something to do with art education cuts. If so, there is a certain irony in the protest happening the year that Marin Boyce won, with the artist taking the opportunity to voice his concern over reforms in higher education and the vast increase in tuition fees: ‘As education is put through the wringer, I want to acknowledge the importance of accessible education,’ he said.
 
At last year’s prize, some 30 students invaded the ceremony at Tate Britain, in protest against the British government’s savage funding cuts for arts schools. Once in, they proceeded to chant so as to make the ceremony inaudible. They wore dunce caps and shouted slogans such as ‘The Tate would be empty without art schools’, and ‘Education should be free for all, not a product for purchase’.
 
Streaking is the act of running nude through a public place. Since its heyday in the 1970s, being caught streaking now involves the risk of being charged with indecent exposure, and consequently the title of ‘sex offender’ upon conviction. The Turner Prize streaker took no such risks, hence the pink tutu. As a result, ‘disorderly conduct’ was the only charge available to police.

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