2015 Turner Prize show: Snap Judgement

The Turner Prize show is notoriously easy to lampoon – it’s a case of fish and barrels – but it’s a strange year at Tramway, in Glasgow.    Not easy outrage over elephant dung or unmade beds in  but a curious emptiness.  The first impression of the exhibition is of vast white spaces with ‘the work’ tucked away in side rooms.

Turner Prize 2015, Tramway, , entrance to Granby Workshop on right,

Turner Prize 2015, Tramway, , entrance to Granby Workshop on right,

The tones of  Janice Kerbel’s ‘Doug’ echoed through the rooms; it is performed every day from 1 to 4 pm but outside those hours the piece, without its performers, will look like this:

Doug, Turner Prize 2015, Tramway, Glasgow

Doug, Turner Prize 2015, Tramway, Glasgow

The whole cycle consists of nine songs for six unaccompanied voices, meant to give  ‘to give shape to a catastrophic cycle of events’.  It was previously performed in Glasgow’s Mitchell Library.    Sound artists have already arrived at the Turner and the performance plays well with TV but  even with the six singers at six music stands, visually it was all very black and white.

At the opening I overheard these mutters from three colleagues, Scottish and not, on entering the show:  “what am I going  to ask?”,  “thank God it’s free”, and “lucky this is in Glasgow not in London,” i.e. it would get an easier ride with the critics up here.     ( I tweeted I’d never seen less art in a Turner Prize exhibition.)

It will be curious to know what audiences make of it.   The content is very thin in this huge white space; though several of the participants have full resumes there are echoes of a student show; works in single rooms on  single subjects.     They may represent larger pieces or concepts but there is not much to see.    Three of the four artists did not show up for press view interviews; this is claimed as common practise but it was an entirely different story in Newcastle a few years back.

The upside is Assemble, by Granby Workshop, which must be the early favourite.   It holds its own as a piece worthy of inclusion, and there is plenty to talk about.   It comes out of a social enterprise in Granby, Liverpool, where a group of architects, artists and others came together to make over “tinned up” houses not with conventional ‘social regeneration’ but with sustainable and entertaining design.     Several of the participants were on site and they talked about it intelligently and enthusiastically.

Granby Rock, for example, is a material made of skip rubbish, cast together with sand and cement, looking like a faux marble but with much more original substance and taste.    It’s made into mantelpieces and tabletops.

  • Assemble, by the Granby Workshop: printed fabrics, banisters

There are  ‘cut out’ tiles with slight, light-touch collaged designs, drapes from wood-block prints, cabinet handles and light pulls from ‘sawdust ceramics’.   It might be home interiors, it might be art, but on it’s face it’s young, fresh, and socially laudable.

Bonnie Camplin’s Patterns fits the kind of archive work seen in certain galleries.   It may reward time, and a second or third look.   On the other hand, this is what confronts you when you walk into the room.

Bonnie Camplin Patterns Turner Prize.

Bonnie Camplin’s Patterns

Here is the fourth piece, Nicole Wermers Untiled Chair sculptures.

Turner Prize Tramway Nicole Wermer

Nicole Wermers Untiled Chair

From the wall:  “For convenience we place our coats on chairs in order to claim them, a ritual that marks out a private area in an otherwise public space like a cafe or restaurant…not only are the coats sewn around the chairs, they actually constitute part of the backrest itself…”