The British newspaper opines that year’s quartet is “the most obscure shortlist in the history of the prize,”established in 1984 by the Tate Britain. If that’s so, perhaps rather than merely affirming talent, the museum is trying to gain credibility as one who makes it – not unlike one notable British innovation that spawned a phenomenally successful American franchise.
The four artists are Goshka Macuga, Cathy Wilkes, Mark Leckey, and Runa Islam (one of whose works’ title was recycled as the title for this post), and the Guardian includes brief bios as part of its extensive coverage of the prize, which is taken very seriously in the UK, with bookies getting in on the action (apparently, the lone male of the group is currently favored).
Looking back at a list of previous winners and nominees, it does seem that many Turner artists were better known when they won the Prize (and many have work that’s in the Walker’s collection or has been seen in its galleries: Gilbert and George, Derek Jarman (subject of a special tribute during our Expanding the Frame cinema series in January/February – keep an eye on our Film/Video page for details), Yinka Shonibare, Tony Cragg, Rachel Whiteread, Christ Ofili, etc.)
However, it’s also worth noting that this year’s shortlist artists are not so obscure as to be confined by the boundaries of the UK. Islam, Leckey, Wilkes, and Macuga have each had shows Stateside, if that means anything in a now-thoroughly-globalized art world.
The 2008 Turner winner will be announced December 1, and it’s tempting to wonder if viewer input from the Tate exhibition has any bearing on this decision. In any case, we should probably write a whole other blog post on on the American counterpart to the Turner Prize and speculate on why it doesn’t garner nearly the attention – its 2008 winner was announced last week.