Satire on Turner Prize backfires- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: Satire on Turner Prize backfires
Date: 24 November, 1993
Journal: Daily Telegraph
Author: Susannah Herbert
Type of resource: News items
Status: original
No. views: 1514

Satire on Turner Prize backfires

By Susannah Herbert (24 November, 1993, Daily Telegraph)

The artist Rachel Whiteread was voted the best - and worst - artist of the year yesterday in two contrasting ceremonies whose convergence at the Tate Gallery last night bordered on farce, writes Susannah Herbert, Arts Correspondent.

The jury of the Turner Prize awarded Ms Whiteread u20,000 for making "a very positive contribution to the debate about the place of art in society". But its praise was upstaged by the antics of the K Foundation, which named her the worst artist on the Turner Prize shortlist of four.

The K Foundation award - if its advertising is to be believed - is worth u40,000. The K Foundation, a mysterious orginisation set up by pop group KLF to satirise the Turner Prize asked members of the public to vote on its award. "We got 3,563 votes and Rachel Whiteread won with a clear majority," a spokeswoman said yesterday. The Foundation, which announced its winner in a advertising break on Channel Four last night, seemed to hope that Ms Whiteread would be too offended to accept the prize.

It underestimated her, however. Ms Whiteread, whose work with casts of everyday objects - mattresses, bathtubs, even an entire house - has been praised for questioning art's relationship to reality, was ready to "take the money and run" said Mr Karsten Schubert, whose gallery represents her.*

The gallery issued a statement which said: "As it is not a prize with whose aims Rachel Whiteread is prepared to associate herself, she has decided that, in the event of her actually being paid the u40,000, it will be distributed to 10 individual artists in financial need."

Ms. Whiteread, 30, is the first woman to win the Turner Prize, which was established in 1984. The judges praised her work for "exploring such themes as memory, death, community, isolation, homelessness".

Since its inception the prize been attacked for promoting abstract and avant garde at the expense of more traditional art.

Last night's alternative award started with a convoy of limousines outside a Kensington hotel and culminated with a presentation on the steps of the Tate.

[ *Radio 4 midnight news bulletin reported this slightly differently: that the K.Foundation said in a confrontation on the steps of the Tate that if Ms.Whiteread didn't take the money they would burn it, thus she was forced to take the money. ]


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