The winner of the Turner prize has just been announced, and it certainly wasn’t my favourite of the four artists. As mentioned in a previous post, the work that I appreciated the most was by Michael Dean. His work said more to me, with a political message, than any of the other exhibitors.
However the winner was Helen Marten. So I thought I would try to find out a bit more about her work so that I could understand better why it was that she had won. First of all I read the blog by Will Gompertz at the BBC. He says “her hybrid sculptures, made out of materials both found and fabricated, form complex tableau of ideas and associations. They are poetic puzzles that question meaning and assumption, and require an almost archaeological mindset to solve”.
Perhaps my problem when first viewing this work was that I didn’t spend enough time trying to analyse it but simply looked at it. Gompertz says “things are not quite what they seem, objects don’t conform to expectations, awkwardness abounds. At least, it does to begin with. But once you tune into her way of thinking, and start to understand that the artist is not trying to fool you, but take you by the hand and show you something new, you begin to see the beauty of her work”.
Perhaps this was my issue in that I didn’t spend the time to look and assimilate the work and what the artist was trying to say through the work simply regarding it as a visual object.
Maybe I need to learn to think in a different way when regarding pieces of work such as this, to think more about the artist’s intention and not just its physical appearance.
It would seem that my doubts about the work may have been shared by by others, I have just come across a review of the Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern. The reviewer (Karen Wright in The Independent) says “All the young earnest artists receiving accolades such as Helen Marten, (shortlisted this year for the Turner Prize) now combining abject materials should visit this show and learn how it can be when done with humour and power. It has all been done before and much better! ”