In the end, true art emerged from this year’s Turner Prize which, at this point, could be called without any hesitation, a pile of nihilistic shit. The Prize as we all know, has been awarded to sculptor and painter Helen Martin. The true art that I am referring to has to do with something true and authentic that allows us to rethink the place of institutions in today’s world. That’s why, it didn’t come as a surprise that if art is a source of knowledge, we could learn not from Helen Martin but from British former Cabinet minister Michael Gove’s comments on the Turner Prize which he labelled ‘modish crap’.
In spite of the fact that in a presentation, broadcast live by the BBC at London’s Tate Britain on Monday, Martin was praised for her ‘exceptional contribution’ to ‘contemporary visual art’, Gove, a member of the political establishment who, by the way, has formerly been the Education Secretary, offered repeated criticism of the award –appearing to suggest it had nothing in common with the 19th century English painter JMW Turner, from whom the award takes it name. The 16ft, golden bum by Anthony Hamilton being held open by two huge hands, a brick-printed suit and sculpture consisting of £20,435.99 in pennies which were also in the running take us closer to Gove’s point that the memory of Turner instead of being honoured is actually desecrated.
Some of you might know that, in spite of living in the UK, I am a well known art critic in my home country, Argentina. In a few days, I will be interviewed by social architect Mauricio Corbalan who sustains that my anti-institutional art criticism (which has been happening for the past four years) is symptomatic of the societal changes that Trump anti-establishment rethoric, for example, have pushed to the centre of the global stage. Institutions are failing us and proof of this is how former culture minister, Ed Vazey, tried to slap down Conservative Gove by saying: that Turner Prize has a lot to do with JMW Turner’s genius because it celebrates brilliant contemporary artists. But what does that mean? Gove seems to be using logical thinking while Vazey deploys some sort of discoursive correction which is empty and meaningless. But Gove went for it, upped his criticism and tweeted: ‘No, it doesn’t – it celebrates ugliness, nihilism and narcissism – the tragic emptiness of now’ and he is damn right. It was at that point that Award winning artist Conor Collins asked Gove not to ‘ruin art’ like he ‘wrecked the EU’ after which the most interesting accusation was uttered when Harry Yorke said that by criticising the Turner Prize, Gove had released his ‘inner Trump’. I think that it was there and then that the failure of institutions unconsciously came to the fore and it was then and only then that Gove’s words on the Turner Prize brought about something real and authentic and that is something that art should do. J A T