Thursday, October 21, 2010


In addition to gorging on the performing arts in London last week, we also partook of the visual kind.  Here's how we spent one afternoon, at the Turner Prize exhibition:
Turner Prize 2010
Since 1984, the Turner Prize has been Britain's most prestigious arts competition.  The prize is awarded to an artist under 50, born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition in the year through April.  Beginning in October, the finalists, as picked by a jury, have their work exhibited at Tate Britain. (That's the Tate with neither the smokestack nor the 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds.) Then, in December -- drumroll -- a winner will be picked.

It's a big deal in Britain. Like the Whitney Biennial, the reviewers usually have a field day with their criticism. But also like the Biennial, the Turner Prize gets press coverage and is fiercely argued about in art circles.  Even Ladbrokes and William Hill, the British betting shops, post odds on the Turner Prize contestants.

In earlier years, some of the prizewinners have gone on to fame, fortune, and, in some cases, notoriety, including Howard Hodgkin (1985), Gilbert & George (1986), Anish Kapoor  (1991), Rachel Whiteread (1993), Antony Gormley  (1994), and Damien Hirst (1995).

Four artists were short-listed this year and have their work on display now at Tate Britain.  That is, three rooms have art on display; one room is totally empty. There is absolutely nothing to see in this room, because it's exhibiting an aural piece of art.  Yes, you can actually look at this artwork with your eyes closed. Or you can stare at the bare walls and listen to recordings of the "artist," Susan Philipsz, singing folk songs over loudspeakers.  The program describes these songs as "aural interventions."  Well, as Samuel Goldwyn said, include me out. Susan is on my really really short list. Yet, weirdly enough, The Guardian lists Philipsz in second place in the betting. Go figure.

Dexter Dalwood: Burroughs in Tangiers
Dexter Dalwood: Death of David Kelly
Leading the betting is the painter Dexter Dalwood, former member of a punk rock band. Well, maybe not an oil-on-canvas painter, but a painter-collagist.  In any event, and this is radical among Turner Prize finalists, there are images in frames that can be hung on a wall. How radical!  Not only that, but I actually liked some of them.

More evocative of my perception of a leading-edge art contestant is The Otolith Group. Their entries are long, pretentious videos that are explained in the catalog, but both the videos and the explanations left me struggling.  It was here that I started to appreciate aural interventions. Otolith is in last place among the oddsmakers.
Angela de la Cruz: Clutter I

Finally, there is Angela de la Cruz.  What she is doing is worth discussing. Her point of departure, according to the program notes, is that she 

"breaks the stretchers of her canvases...she becomes occupied with liberating painting from the sacred boundaries of its support, allowing it to expand from the flat picture plane into a third dimension."

Angela de la Cruz: Deflated IV
As is so frequent in the arts today, what seems innovative has often been done before.  In literature, in its most blatant form, this is called plagiarism. (Tom Lehrer: Let no one else's work evade your eyes, plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize.)

In the visual arts, it's considered less as copying and more as flattering:  building, if you will, on the shoulders on giants. Appropriation, it's called.  And what Angela de la Cruz has done is to build on, to emulate, to pay tribute to, or to appropriate what American artist Sam Gilliam did more than a generation earlier. In the 1960s, Gilliam became the first painter to introduce the idea of an unsupported canvas. From his WikiPedia entry:
Sam Gilliam: Double Fashion

He works on stretched, draped, and wrapped canvas, and adds sculptural 3D elements. He is recognized as the first artist to introduce the idea of a painted canvas hanging without stretcher bars ...Around 1965 Gilliam became the first painter to introduce the idea of the unsupported canvas. He was inspired to do this by observing laundry hanging outside his Washington studio. This was the first of its kind and was of huge influence throughout the art world. His drape paintings were suspended from ceilings, arranged on walls or floors, and they represent a sculptural, third dimension in painting.
Sam Gilliam

The two italicized passages are remarkably similar. In both: removing the canvas from the stretcher and adding a third dimension.

Angela is doing something imaginative, and does it OK.  But Sam imagined it first, and does it brilliantly.

There you have it.  In December we'll know who wins -- the aural artist, the painter-collagist, the videographer, or the emulator.  Here's the betting from Oct. 7 poll in The Guardian:

And you thought the Super Bowl was big.


  1. Hi Ben,
    My name is Mandali from London, UK. Great to hear you enjoyed a trip to our beautiful country without a drop of rain in sight!
    I am contacting you to find out how best to contact your brother Harold Rosen to see if he'd be interested in rekindling his Lunar X Prize team. I know he and his team quit back in 2008 for a number of reasons, but my team would be interested in picking up from where he left off if he is open to the idea. Even if he doesn't think there's any life left in the mission - we do!
    I realise this suggestion may be a little forward, but could you pass on this idea to him on the off-chance he may accept?
    Some background on me: I am an expert in space-based location systems and develop GPS systems primarily into the consumer electronics and telco sectors. I run my consultancy practice MKInnovation out of London (UK) since 2008, as an extension of earlier mobile phone systems work I pioneered in Japan in 2004/5.
    My "lunar x" team is based primarily out of the UK, with a number of international partners providing critical parts of the mission capability. My email is at space @ or you also contact me via my website's standard web-based contact form.
    Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Kind regards,
    Mandali Khalesi

  2. PS. A 20 min interview just last week by the Lunar X Prize-focused blogger is available at, detailing the reasons for joining the prize and how we plan on being different to the other teams. Hope this proves useful/shows that we're serious.

  3. These include lawyer fees, application fees, credit reports,
    title search fees, notary fees, insurance fees, property appraisal fees, loan document
    preparation fees, as well as other closing expenses quick loans
    common fees that you will notice and in all probability must pay for when switching
    loans is often a 'switching fee', an 'early termination fee',
    an 'early discharge fee' as well as a 'deferred set up fee'.
    my site - quick loans

  4. Your advance loan company expedite the procedure for
    attaining cash flow and will obtain it completed inside a fraction of
    the time Payday Loans however, the
    last option is more reliable compared on the initial two,
    because total funds are available in the traditional bank throughout the clock.
    My web page > Payday Loans

  5. Hello, I think your blog could possibly be having browser compatibility problems.
    When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping
    issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Besides that, great blog!

    Check out my site: solar teichpumpe mit akku

  6. Bernarԁ Maoff was unmasƙed a year аgo, underscoring the value of your aсcumսlated
    aѕsets, if posѕible, you want to ѕee the array of inѵestmeոt
    opportunities that didn't smell гight to you. The above
    stеps fіnancial neеd analƴsis would hepp to maintain the momentum.

    My web blog :: financial planner software

  7. fangyanting20150930
    nike outlet store,
    chanel handbags,
    nike huarache,
    nike air max shoes,
    louis vuitton handbags,
    pandora jewelry,
    oakley outlet,
    air jordan 4,
    oakley sunglasses,
    michael kors factory outlet,
    ugg boots,
    nike mercurial,
    replica watches,
    mcm outlet,
    louis vuitton handbags,
    louis vuitton outlet,
    soccer jerseys,
    prada shoes,
    chanel handbags,
    cheap snapbacks,
    gucci handbags,
    michael kors outlet,
    oakley sunglasses,
    michael kors handbags,
    ugg boots,
    louis vuitton,
    kobe bryant shoes,
    coach outlet,
    north face jackets,


  8. شركة نقل عفش بالدمام الشرق الاوسط متحصصه فى نقل عفش واثاث بالدمام ونقل العفش بالخبر كما انها توفر شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل والخبر وشركة نقل عفش بالقطيف والاحساء وجميع خدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة الشرقية بارخص اسعار نقل عفش بالدمام وتقدم ايضا شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام والخبر
    نقل عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
    شركة نقل عفش بالقطيف
    شركة نقل اثاث بالاحساء


  9. شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة وشقق بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل خزانات ومكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة انها الاولى فى مكافحة ورش الحشرات بالمدينة المنورة رش البق رش الصراصير مكافحة النمل الابيض بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة

  10. إذا كنت في أي مكان بالرياض من شمال الرياض أو شرق الرياض أو غرب الرياض أو جنوب الرياض وتسعى للوصول إلى أفضل النتائج في أعمال الفك والتعبئةشركة نقل عفش
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الى قطر
    شركة نقل عفش من الرياض الى قطر
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة