French artist Laure Provost shockingly won the Turner Prize and I must admit that I am pleased that Tino Sehgal did not. This confirms two things. Firstly, that that multi-situational remote controlled performance art is finally starting to recede after two or three years of the world of art being fascinated with it. As I stated in many articles in this blog, a German group of very well placed curators were pushing this sort of ‘Do it Yourself’ art to the point of exhaustion and ridiculousness. I am referring, of course, to the Germano-Wagnerian Falange of Hans Obrist Ulrich and Klaus Biesembach who have systematically emptied the Serpentine Gallery and the MOMA PS1 from any real artistic meaning. So there I go. I am happy about the award being given to Provost, strictly from the point of view that performance art has to put its act together before claiming more positions.
Having said that, I don’t think Provost has or will have the relevance that an artist requires to be at that level. Provost is the typical multi-media post conceptual artist who inscribes allegorical meaning into all sorts of objects and it is up for the viewer to decode the poetics of the distribution of objects around space. Winner of the Max Mara Prize at Whitechapel Art Gallery, Provost makes non sensical discussions about experience, as such, with the sound of gasping and heavy breathing and with the visual rhetorics of advertising, she films a fish eating a raspberry and…that’s it. She plays with funny ideas, on one side, and on the other side, she explores the idea of perception per se. Her work allegedly entails irony, allegory and the way art deconstruct itself as art.
In my opinion, her work puts too much pressure on the viewer who has to put all the pieces together through a body of knowledge that cannot be expected from him or to have and which is not even provided to him. In other words, there is a sense that her work touches all these topics but actually she discusses none of them. After finishing seeing her video, I did not have any revelation about artistic perception or anything like that. Besides, the way she giggles and speaks English with that French accent is so annoying that I just wanted to leave before it finished.
I guess the problem with the Turner Prize at this point is the lack of real shock material which is, at the end of the day, what they are looking for. The judges were smart enough to realise that the dematerialisation of the work of art through performance is a one way ticket to its irrelevance and functions more as a ‘human social project’ where rich patrons crack a smile and lonely gay guys participate as volunteers in order to find someone to go out with that same weekend. However, it is this role of post conceptual installationism that concerns me because anything can be done and explained as art. The boundaries are just too fluid and they should’t be. As Laure Provost put a fish with a raspberry, I could throw a bit of water in the middle of the room and claim that I am questioning representation as such, couldn’t I? Just a thought.
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