“Plaster is sieved perfectly on to the floor, is disrupted, and is repaired, all the time leaving behind traces of what happened before. Once encountered it is impossible to avoid the appeal of such a sensual feast to our bodily desires.”
Katherine Walsh, describing Karla Black’s art in the Turner Prize brochure.
The 2011 Turner Prize exhibition doesn’t disappoint – it’s just as daft as last year’s. The purpose of the Turner Prize is to expand the boundaries of contemporary art. This year’s contenders, which can be seen at the Baltic Gallery in Newcastle have little to do with art, but do manage to push the boundaries of contemporary humour. There is the sculptress Karla Black, whose favourite materials include topsoil, eye shadow and petroleum jelly. There’s George Shaw, a painter who has expanded the boundaries of modern art by using Humbrol enamel, a paint normally used by model makers. His exhibits are aptly titled “The Age of Bullshit” and “The Same Old Crap”. He seems certain to win.
In a city which is known for its friendliness, the gallery staff are deeply unpleasant – scowling, growling, controlling. I’m not sure if they’re upset by the impending public spending cuts (when are they going to happen?) or by having to deal with a public who are contemptuous of what’s on show.
The photo below is of a section of Martin Boyce’s sculpture – the objects displayed are a few dead leaves, which in the contemporary art world are reverently known as “found objects”.