In this session we visited the Tate Britain, Millbank, to view the turner prize a prestigious art show held every year, showcasing the work of four chosen artists. This year, the four artists shortlisted were Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten and Josephine Pryde. All totally different styles and work. Upon entering the exhibition, we were immediately greeted with the work of Helen Marten. Marten uses screen print, sculpture and writing within her installations. She includes references to historical and everyday in her work. Fo the work submitted for the prize, she collected both found and handmade objects to create a ‘poetic visual puzzle’ with a playful aspect, encouraging the viewer to figure out the riddle in the installations.
The work shown in this particular part of the gallery showed Marten to divide her space into three representational ‘workstations’ where “unknown human activity can be seen to be interrupted” – an interesting concept for group of objects we may be familiar with. Helen Marten demonstrated these mysterious scenes by making them something to be investigated by the public, we were encouraged to look deeply at the items almost to the extent where we are able to reconsider the purpose of these objects in the modern day world.
To me the ‘workstation’ aspect of the work was demonstrated clearly as it had an industrial feel to each piece with dull materials and colour. The placement of the random items did make you question why they were there but personally i was unable to solve the riddle of interference. All of Martens work was visually interesting but complicated and hard to understand. I feel that the voice of this artist was serious yet playful as you were made to feel like an investigator on a crime scene, a playful thought when realising the reality of the work. I feel that the values of the work remain with they mystery element of the pieces. I feel that the bottom line of this artist and her work was to encourage curiosity and promoting the importance of question, clearly shown in the riddles of each installation.
The next artist in the collection was Anthea Hamilton, a London based artist who used sculpture and scale to create highly impressionable pieces. When walking into Hamiltons gallery, you was faced with a giant sculpture of a backside; a humous yet memorable installation. Due to its sheer scale and nature, it was clear that the piece was a main talking point amongst the visitors. It was here that it became clear how Hamilton uses humour in her work to make it playful and engaging. Anthea Hamilton claims that she is highly influenced by french writer and dramatist ‘Antonin Artaud’ and his call for the “physical knowledge of images”.
I feel that Hamiltons message throughout all of her pieces is to not take things too seriously, the immature visuals in her work are very lighthearted and playful which makes you enjoy the whole gallery experience, demonstrating clearly a huge contrast to the typical gallery set up. I also feel that Anthea Hamilton is trying to make a statement with the loud, contrasting floor to ceiling wallpaper, huge scale of her pieces and the unusual placement of each installation. The values of this artwork are clearly shown to be a lighthearted fun type of work, encouraging the viewer to enjoy the whole experience and to not take the whole thing too seriously, the bottom line being humorous, harmless fun.
From Anthea Hamiltons large scale sculptures to a series of photographic and sculptural pieces, we then moved to Josephine Pryde’s section of the prize. Pryde’s gallery was a more sophisticated, serious collection that explored the nature of image making and display. The first thing you were greeted with upon entering this particular gallery was a series of kitchen worktops. Pryde exposed these worktops in three major cities, London, Berlin and Athens. The final result was very similar to that of a photogram. Personally, as I am interested in photographic techniques, I found this installation very aesthetically pleasing and particularly interesting as it made you wonder what objects had been exposed.
Another piece in Josephine Prydes collection was a scale model of what seemed to be some sort of freight train. Each carriage had been tagged by different graffiti artists from the cities that the train had visited previously during its time of being exhibited. I like this concept as it showed how the piece changes from gallery to gallery, creating the idea of it being a constantly changing piece.
The third and final series in this collection was a series of photographs (also ongoing), show a resemblance to fashion advertising photography. Prydes concept was to focus on the models upper body and hands, the purpose of this was to show where the body and the object of which they are holding meet. Many of the photographs showed a model holding some sort of modern technology such as smartphones or tablets. I think that the artist did this to show the means of interaction we have with these objects in everyday life, also, the fact that smart technology has become such a huge part of our lifestyles, i believe that by just focusing on the hands, Pryde is demonstrating purely the gestures and haptic connection we have with this type of technology.
Overall, I believe that the work is trying to show the processes of image making and ongoing art. It shows a sort of self improvement in the fact that the pieces are able to evolve and be added to for each gallery.
The final gallery in the turner prize belonged to Michael Dean. Dean has a particular process to his work of which I find very intriguing. He starts his work by writing and then refines the text by turning it into a physical form. The human scale shapes each represent letters and words which have been distorted and changed. He likes to use recognisable materials such as corrugated metal and concrete, which demonstrates an industrial nature to his artwork. On first impression there seemed to be a theme running through the gallery with small recogniseable stickers lining the entrance, placed on the artwork and also on the walls of the gallery itself. The scale of the artwork was also extremely overwhelming as you were almost exploring the artwork and climbing over obstacles to move around. The structures were meant to resemble language but not necessarily as legible words or characters. In the artwork, was moulds of human body parts, almost giving the idea of destruction and maybe accident.
The main talking point of this particular gallery was a extortionate amount of pennies, adding up to a total of £20,436, piled and scattered all over the floor. The concept behind his was to represent the poverty line for two adults and two children living in the UK, visually show the amount of money that the government states is the minimum amount of money for this amount of people to survive for a year in the UK. Explained in the gallery was that when Dean installed this piece, he took just one of the pennies away to give the impression that this was one penny below the poverty line. I thought that this was the most effective piece in Michael Deans gallery as it shows you just how much money it would tae for someone to be classed as living in poverty.
Michael Dean took a much more serious, factual approach to his work which was all about the message and making people think. I believe that the artist wanted to leave an impression on people and done this through the scale and concept of his design.
The purpose of visiting and deconstructing each gallery in the Turner Prize was to try and contemplate the ‘brand’ of each artist. We did this by using the same methods we used in the psychogeographical trip to Westfield Stratford, including the analysation of a brands voice, message, values and the bottom line of each business. I believe that each artist has a ‘brand’ of some sort which is clearly demonstrated in this task when comparing each artist. For example, Anthea Hamilton has clearly shown a lighthearted, fun approach to her work. If Hamilton was to create something that was the direct opposite, being serious and factual, this would almost be considered as breaking out of her usual ‘brand’.
Other artists that have a brand include Keith Hairing and Andy Warhol, two of the most recogniseable styles of the modern art world. The iconic styles of these two artists make them instantly distinguishable, a key part of branding as a whole. For artists to have this trait, it means that they carry a brand with their name. This could work in the artists favour but if they were to ever change their styles, it could be classed as unlike them and rebellious and people may not like it as much as it does not fall into that particular category of a specific kind or work.
This task just demonstrated how art as commodity can also carry a brand and that it is not just commercial businesses where branding can be useful.