Duncan Campbell wins Turner Prize 2014
Duncan Campbell is this year’s Turner Prize winner, securing a cheque for £25,000 and, for now at least, the attention of the art world. The 42-year-old conceptual artist, Dublin-born, Glasgow-based, was the bookies favourite.
His award-winning work, It for Others, was described by the jury as “an ambitious and complex film which rewards repeated viewing”. They added that they “admired his exceptional dedication to making a work which speaks about the construction of value and meaning in ways that are topical and compelling”.
The 54-minute piece was made partly in response to a film made in 1953 by Chris Marker and Alain Resnais. Called Statues Also Die, it examined the effects of colonialism and the way in which the meaning of African artefacts changes by being displayed in western museums.
Of his artistic reaction to Statues Also Die, which was made for Scotland’s pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale, Campbell said it concerns “how you can understand certain histories through objects”.
“This money will make a huge difference,” he said artist said as he accepted the prestigious prize from the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor at Tate Britain. “Even being nominated for the prize has given me great heart.”
In an interview with the Observer in October, he explained how he himself has been left divided by the issue of repatriation, saying “there are some arguments I don’t agree with on both sides”.
“But,” he added, “there are very compelling arguments about the ownership of these objects, to do with how they are used and with who gets to draw the limits on the sort of knowledge that is drawn from them.”
Campbell’s film also contains new elements, such as a new piece of choreography from the renowned Scottish dancer Michael Clark, which is said to have been based on equations that feature in Karl Marx’s excellent critique Das Kapital.
Furthermore, it also explores the complex nature of martyrdom – it features images of the oft-described “Che Guevara of the IRA” Joe McCann – and how, quite often, powerful images of controversial figures can become empty commodities that lose any kind of symbolic importance.
“He always takes serious questions … but then what he does is treat them in quite an unusual way and this film is even more unusual than some of his earlier works,” said Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain and chair of this year’s jury. “It’s a work that really does repay sustained attention.”
The runners up include Ciara Phillips, a collaborative artist; James Richards, whose work saw him film close-ups of art books in a Tokyo library; and Tris Vonna-Michell, a talented performance artist. They each pick up £5,000.
Last year’s winner was Laura Prouvost, who picked up 2013’s Turner Prize for her intriguing video about a fictional grandfather that was inspired by the German artists Kurt Schwitters.
“Laure Prouvost being given the award shows that the Turner Prize still has the capacity to be unpredictable,” the BBC’s arts editor Will Gompertz said at the time.
“There is no question that her work is extremely atmospheric. You could describe her installation as a cross between a Santa’s grotto and an old junkshop, but that is not to say it doesn’t have its own merits and provocations.”
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