Visiting the Turner Prize is a bit of a ritual for art lovers, a ritual that opens a window into the examination of the needs of society, the thoughts of the judges and the evolution of art.
I decided to do as one of the nominees, Paul Noble suggested, start with the ‘name’ and look into the content in respect to the context in which it has been presented.
We have four big names, Paul Noble, Spartacus Chetwynd, Luke Fowler and Elizabeth Price. Most power names are able to keep the branding of their presentation as ‘artist’ buoyant, in times of a challenging economic flux. To many artists these are difficult times, when attempting to create a profile. However these artists are not really into branding or trend setting as a rite of passage, they are seen in this exhibition baring glimpses of their position with a struggling society, a society that as Spartacus quotes (Michael Daniek saying), ‘The fundamental problem to our planet is ‘consciousness’.
It is from this stance that I decided to evaluate the work and the artists, in how their perspective and consciousness gives value to themselves and the world at large. By experiencing Elizabeth Price’s work, we are given a very trendy look in to a topical subject, the architecture of information, the evolution of transmitting information, the death of the old, morality and the possibilities of experience in the receiving of information as a basic value to educate.
‘Etymologically, the word ‘education’ is derived from the Latin ēducātiō (“A breeding, a bringing up, a rearing”) from ēdūcō (“I educate, I train”) which is related to the homonym ēdūcō (“I lead forth, I take out; I raise up, I erect”) from ē- (“from, out of”) and dūcō (“I lead, I conduct”) – (Wikepedia)
A true ‘educator’ raises awareness and consciousness in enabling development from a person centered perspective. This is how I see the usage of information technology, the design of technology and communications evolving.
Price’s work touched on three areas of interest, the components of the ‘choir’ or ‘quire’, the ‘chorus’, and the peoples experience of the destruction of the Woolworths building in Manchester 1979. She used a way of presentation that allowed us to ‘access’ the information in a way that was natural to human learning and development.
‘We’ as a community are in a position to hear and to learn about her transmissions because of the difficulties we face as a society. We have become close to understanding death through, fire, bombing and rioting due to the hyper communication systems we are now all involved with, in which it is possible to go to www.facebook.com or www.youtube.com etc, to experience peoples death in the moment, through the recordings of information technology and communications.
Elizabeth Price doesn’t analyse death in the moment, we have all already done that, we also all know the judges have, which makes us all close as a community. Price brings an underlying spirituality to her work in ‘ascension’, through the transmission of communication and education of the architecture of the ‘choir’, through the catastrophe of accidental fire, that led to the death of 10 persons and then through the chorus motioning upward movement. Through a rising in to something else something abstract, that makes a lighter experience in understanding and encourages trust, community and en-lightened living.
Many of the artists present with a rhetoric to do with accessibility. Paul Noble references ‘accessiblity’ in his work, through his personal sense of ‘placement’, although he allows the consciousness of our own individual experience to inform how much we take away from his work. He speaks to the people that need to see high level draughtsmanship, he allows consciousness to unfold through his journey of pencil line. Giving voice to the names of his drawings, Paul’s Palace 1996, Trev 1997, Villa Joe etc. He allows the names to find their destiny and then creates a destination or location through the drawings and the experience of being involved in the works. His work is a relief in many ways as it adds a back bone of experience in evaluating art practice, in saying yes its possible to simply ‘be’ as an artist.
There is such a strong pressure to be professional beyond professionalism, a quality that led me on to find interest in the work of Spartacus Chetwynd. This work demands attention, as if a parent looking at a teenager getting involved in Rock Music and wondering if its safe for them to do so. In fact I found getting to know Spartacus’ work at the Tate, to become a journey of understanding adult innocence in a complex world, in which one is robbed of that simple right. She has educated herself highly in to the ways of the world and the historical development of the world, being clear in her statements that our morality is still pretty un-evolved, relating performances, to Chaucer, Tesla, Plato and Kepler amongst others. I found a compassion for her using an analogy to the misunderstanding of a person who could have been named a ‘barbarian’. I wanted to reach out and express my understanding of her, I wanted to empathise and validate her.
Here we see someone standing up to the world in full knowledge of the foolish way ‘professionals’ and those in ‘authority’ run the world.
Spartacus on first glance, appears to play the fool, through flamboyant, child like performances. As if acting as when a child, quickly making props and costumes, giving herself a similar set of circumstances in allowing play, as if gathering her school friends around sharing ideas and means of creative outlets. In doing so as an adult she sets free the inner child of herself and others, in full knowledge of how so called ‘professionals’ or those in position of ‘power’ have entrapped us all.
Here we see an intelligence and a consciousness around all she does, shut out from being a teacher type of leader and educator, she shares stories, entertains, seeming to play the archetype of fool, yet it is her that is the wise one. The fool often emerges to be the enlightened.
Luke Fowler’s work looks back to Dr Laing’s work with psychiatry from 1959-1991, we hear from both the patients and the Dr’s journey. I felt a strong emotional engagement with the process, as I found respect for the patients, I enquired in to their journey’s and found value in their perspective, giving me further reason to evaluate and question, the words ‘professional’, ‘authority’ and ‘psychiatrist’. Dr Laing talks openly about his struggles as a professional and we see the limits of psychiatry, bar prescribing drugs, referencing medicines as forms of creating more tranquil states of consciousness but with no real understanding of evolution or healing.
So here again we have to disarm, we have to say, this is so, the world is struggling to evolve, to get it, psychiatry and psychology is still at a place generally speaking close to the 1959-91. People are in pain, how can we transform attitudes in enabling people to feel connected that they are ‘accessible’?
The answers are out in the world its just ‘professionals’ and ‘authorities’ often are not walking down a ‘path’ in which access is given, where the answers present easily. Dr Laing talks about ‘poverty of content in speech’, maybe he is also referencing that there is poverty in content in status of authority.
Energy psychology and the the process of enlightenment allows people to let go of their heavy emotions, to bring together their fragmented soul, to deal with ‘voices’, yet there are many people in power that do not take psychotherapy practices beyond the ambitions of the mind seriously, so we are stuck in a loop. One has to go beyond the ‘governmental’ aspirations of society to find the answers.
So my suggestion to all of the artists, judges and audience members who are reviewing and analysing the Turner Prize is, look for the light; in death, in evolution and in survival, our planet depends on it. Try not to judge, but to feel and empathise with the nature of human experience. In reference to who should win the Turner Prize, I would suggest asking yourself, who here shines the light? who leads us in to a state of lightness? Who gives us access to a lighter experience of living?
Words: Amanda McGregor Artist/Curator M.A. Goldsmiths College
Photos: P C Robinson © ArtLyst 2012
Watch Turner Prize 2012 Exhibition Video Here