Turner Prize: UK's best-known art award comes to Derry
Published 22/10/2013 | 19:50
A blank gallery where people engage in conversations about the economy and a huge naked humanoid figure are to battle it out for the UK's best-known art award, the Turner Prize.
They line up against a film about an elderly man who tried to dig a tunnel from Cumbria to Africa and a series of large scale portraits of fictional figures as the strange mix of artworks by the shortlisted artists were unveiled in an exhibition to showcase their expertise.
The exhibition, which has travelled outside England for the first time, is being staged on the site of a former military barracks in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
Housed inside a newly converted soldiers' dormitory once hidden behind miles of bullet proof corrugated iron and barbed wire, the Ebrington show will run until January 5.
Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain, said: "We are delighted to be staging Turner Prize 2013 at Derry/Londonderry. This year's shortlist showcases artists whose work spans live encounters, film, sculpture, drawing and painting.
"Visitors to the exhibition at Ebrington will gain a good sense of the diversity of British art. The Prize provides a vital part of Tate's aim to encourage a wider understanding and enjoyment of visual art."
The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Derry on December 2.
Among the best known artists in the running for the £25,000 prize money is Berlin-based Tino Sehgal, 37, whose work This Is Exchange consists of live "encounters" between interpreters dressed in black T-shirts and the audience. There are no actual objects or displays on show.
Visitors enter the white gallery and can earn £2 if they choose to engage in a meaningful conversation about the market economy.
"They can't just say it's good or awful, they have to give their opinion and discuss it a bit. I will then give them a password and they can pick up £2 from the reception," said Derry born interpreter known only as, Conor.
Sehgal's nomination is the first time a live, partially structured exhibition has been included in the Turner Prize shortlist.
The bookmaker's favourite to win is Glasgow-based artist David Shrigley whose piece Life Model features a larger than life naked male robot. Show-goers are encouraged to take part by drawing the model and their efforts are displayed around the gallery.
Mr Shrigley said: "The drawings are part of the artwork. The idea is that people can take a bit of the artwork away. I hope they enjoy trying to figure out what it's about.
"All the drawings seem to have merit regardless of whether they are really objectively well rendered or whether they are crude and quite primitive or sarcastic."
Life Model was shown in Manchester last year.
He added: "It's interesting because most people seem to have signed their drawing rather conspicuously. That didn't happen when I showed it in Manchester."
The 45-year-old also said he was delighted to have been shortlisted.
He added: "It has been really nice to explore Derry and to hang out because people embrace the Turner Prize here far more than they do in London where it is just something that happens every year.
"In terms of how it feels to be nominated it has to be a nice thing - it can't be a bad thing. My mum and dad are really excited."
Ghanaian, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is the first black woman to be in contention for the Turner Prize award.
Her portraits of six imaginary people use invented pre-histories and are aimed at generating questions about how pictures are read in general.
A video installation by French-born, London-based Laure Prouvost is also vying for the award.
The short film, Wantee, is a response to the the artist Kurt Schwitters and is viewed in a mocked up tea party setting.
Established in 1984, the Turner Prize is awarded to a contemporary artist under 50, living, working or born in Britain, who is judged to have put on the best exhibition of the last 12 months. Previous winners include Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
Shortlisted nominees receive £5,000 prize money.
This year's judges were Ralph Rugoff, the director of the Hayward Gallery, London, Declan Long from the National College of Art, Dublin, Annie Fletcher, from the Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum, and Susanne Gaensheimer from the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt.
Shona McCarthy, chief executive of Culture Company 2013, which is running the UK City of Culture in Derry, said: "We are proud to be presenting the Turner Prize as one of the highlights of the our programme, reflecting the powerful cultural relationships that have been built around this vital year.
"2013 is the first time that the Turner Prize has been located outside of England. The shortlist of artists is wonderful, and with the exhibition's exceptional location, a former military barracks now transformed into a world class exhibition and concert space, the stage is set for the unique experience of Turner Prize 2013."