Laure Prouvost wins Turner Prize 2013
The French-born artist Laure Prouvost has been awarded this year’s Turner Prize for her irreverent and witty video installation Wantee, which sees her pay tribute to a fictionalionised version of her grandfather.
She beat off stiff competition from Tino Sehgal, David Shrigley and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye to secure the £25,000 prize and her name in the history books.
She is the 29th person to be bestowed with the controversial award that has continued to entertain, enthral and bemuse everyone inside and outside of the art world since its inception in 1984.
Overcome with emotion, as she accepted the prize from the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, she expressed her disbelief at the moment, saying that she did not believe she was ready for such an endorsement: “Four incredible artists here with me and the show. I thought ‘It can’t be me,’ – I was sure it was not me. So thank you everybody.”
Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain and chair of the jury, described Prouvost’s work – which was displayed at the gallery earlier this year as part of the Schwitters in Britain exhibition – was “unexpectedly moving” and a “complex and courageous combination of images and objects in a deeply atmospheric environment”.
Wantee is a highly personal work of art by the 36-year-old, which sees her tell a made up story about her grandfather in a room that appears to be the setting for a tea party (Alice and Wonderland naturally presents itself as a source).
In this video, her grandfather is a conceptual artist and close friend of the very real German painter Kurt Schwitters, who is attempting to dig a tunnel to Africa. It is somewhat absurd, that much is true, but as the Guardian’s art critic Adrian Searle describes it, it is nonetheless “sensuous, generous, affecting” and joyous. He still expected Sehgal to win though.
His fellow critic and colleague at the Guardian Jonathan Jones sees her as a worthy winner but nevertheless laments 2013’s shortlist, seeing it as an off-year, though one that is the latest in a number of eccentric names and bizarre works being selected for the Turner Prize.
Yet, in some ways, as kooky as these recent shortlists may appear to be, they do adhere to the philosophy of the award. It was founded under the understanding that it would showcase and celebrate new developments in contemporary art. While it can be difficult to reconcile that with works that are genuinely inane, for the most part, the individuals that are recognised have something to offer.
The only difference between them and other artists remembered by history is that they run the risk of not being forgotten but seen as fleeting bright stars who don’tshine so loud anymore.
“You can’t really be a surprise winner in a shortlist of four, but I think it’s fair to say the general feeling had been it was a two-horse race – between Tino Sehgal and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye,” commented the BBC’s arts editor Will Gompertz.
“To that extent, Laure Prouvost being given the award shows that the Turner Prize still has the capacity to be unpredictable. 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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