Turner Prize announces its 2012 shortlist

This year's shortlist encompasses a mixture of art forms.

It's that time of year again: the shortlist for the Turner Prize has been announced. Spartacus Chetwynd, Luke Fowler, Paul Noble and Elizabeth Price have all been shortlisted for the award.

The Turner Prize was founded in 1984. The winner, chosen from a group of British artists under the age of 50 who has contributed significantly to the British contemporary art scene, is awarded £25,000, while the other three shortlisted each receive £5,000. 

Last year, the award was won by the Scottish sculptor Martin Boyce for his installation Do words have voices. The award ceremony, held at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, was interrupted by the international streaker Mark Roberts who was hired by the artist Benedikt Dichgans. 

So what of the artists on this year's shortlist?

Spartacus Chetwynd

Lali Chetwynd was born and bred in London and changed her name to Spartacus - in a tribute to the Roman gladiator - in 2006. The 38-year-old is best known for her work as a performance artist, having created theatre which blurs the boundaries between performer and spectator. She encompasses a variety of art forms into her work and designs and makes the costumes and sets for her theatre. 

Chetwynd is nominated for her solo "exhibition" Odd Man Out which was at Sadie Coles HQ in London last year. Her work consisted of a five-hour theatre performance using puppetry and exploring the themes of democracy, political disengagement and the right and responsibility of voting. 

Luke Fowler

Glaswegian Luke Fowler focuses on film making. The 34-year-old has made a series of films looking at public figures who he is particularly fascinated by. He made a trilogy of films about the life of psychiatrist RD Laing, the third of which, All Divided Selves, premiered at Inverleith House in Edinburgh last year. In 2006 he released the film Pilgrimage from Scattered Points about the Scottish composer Cornelius Cardew. Both men are seen to be on the fringes of society.

Fowler is nominated for his work exhibited at Inverleith House, including the film All Divided Selves, 50 new photographs in his Two Frames photo series, and the installation Ridges on a Horizontal Plane.

Paul Noble

Paul Noble, who was born in Northumberland, now lives and works in London and is one of the five founding members of the influential artists' space, City Racing. The 38-year-old is best known for his depictions of the fictional dystopian metropolis Nobson Newton, which he has worked on for the past 16 years.

Noble is nominated for the continuation of his Nobson Newton drawings, exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery in London. The exhibition included his centrepiece, a seven-metre wide drawing across 20 sheets of paper which took him four years to create. The settlements he depicts are famous for resembling human turds.

Elizabeth Price

45-year-old Elizabeth Price encorporates moving image, text and music in her work. Her films focus on still objects and explore our relationsip with materialism. Price, who is originally from Bradford but now lives in London, is famous for her film West Hinder 2012, which was inspired by the sinking of a cargo ship in 2002 with nearly 3,000 luxury cars on board. The soundtrack to the film consisted of technical vocabulary from the cars' instruction manuals and marketing information.

Price, who used to be in the 1980s pop group Talulah Gosh, is nominated for her trilogy of installations at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

The winner of the Turner Prize 2012 will be announced on 3 December 2012 at Tate Britain.

A still from Luke Fowler's film All Divided Selves. Photo by The Modern Institute/Tony Webster Ltd
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Netflix's Ozark is overstuffed – not to mention tonally weird

Could the channel use a hit? Every time my subscription leaves my bank account, I think again that it could.

The main reason why Ozark, the new Netflix series, feels so underpowered has to do with its star, Jason Bateman (who also directs): a good actor who badly wants for charisma, he simply can’t carry it alone. Watching the first few episodes, I kept thinking of Jon Hamm in Mad Men and (a better example here) Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, both of whom played, as does Bateman, characters around which the plots of their respective series turned. When they were on screen, which was often, it was all but impossible to tear your eyes from them; when they were off it, you felt like you were only biding your time until they returned. But when Bateman disappears from view, you hardly notice. In fact, it feels like a plus: at least now you might get to see a bit more of the deft and adorable Laura Linney.

In Ozark, Bateman is Marty, an outwardly square guy whose big secret is that he is a money launderer for the second biggest drugs cartel in Mexico. When the series opens, he and his wife Wendy (Linney) and their two children are living in Chicago, where he nominally works as a financial advisor.

By the end of the first episode, however, they’re on their way to the Lake of the Ozarks in rural Missouri. Marty’s partner, Bruce, has been on the fiddle, and the cartel, having summarily executed him, now wants Marty both to pay back the cash, and to establish a few new businesses in which future income may be cleaned far from the prying eyes of the law enforcement agencies. If this sounds derivative, it is. We’re in the realm of Breaking Bad, only where that show gave us out-of-control Bunsen burners and flesh-eating chemicals, this one is more preoccupied with percentages and margins.

Where’s the friction? Well, not only is the FBI on Marty’s tail, his wife has been cheating on him, with the result that their marriage is now just another of his business arrangements. The locals (think Trump supporters with beards as big as pine trees) have proved thus far to be on the unfriendly side, and having paid off their debts, the only house Marty can afford has a cliché – sorry, crotchety old guy – living in the basement. On paper, admittedly, this all sounds moderately promising. But hilarity does not ensue. As dull as the Lake of the Ozarks when the tourist season is over, not even Linney can make Bill Dubuque’s dialogue come alive. Her character should be traumatised: before they left Chicago, the cartel, for reasons I do not completely understand, pushed her podgy lover – splat! – off his balcony. Instead, she’s fussing about the crotchety old guy’s sexism.

Ozark is overstuffed and tonally weird, so I won’t be binge-watching this one. This completes rather a bad run for me and Netflix; after the lame new series of House of Cards and the egregious Gypsy, this is the third of its shows on the trot to bore me rigid. Could the channel use a hit? Every time my subscription leaves my bank account, I think again that it could.

And now to The Sweet Makers: A Tudor Treat (19 July, 8pm), in which we hear the sound of the “living history” barrel being scraped so loudly, those attending the meeting at which it was commissioned must surely have worn ear defenders. Basically, this is a series in which four confectioners “go back in time” to discover how their forebears used sugar (first, the Tudors; next week, the Georgians).

What it means in practice is lots of Generation Game-style faffing with candied roses and coriander comfits by people in long skirts and silly hats – a hey-nonny-nonny fiesta of pointlessness that is itself a sugar coating for those nasty things called facts (ie a bit of tokenism about slavery and our ancestors’ trouble with their teeth).

Resident expert, food historian Dr Annie Gray, strained to give the proceedings urgency, sternly reminding the confectioners that the sugar house they’d spent hours building did not yet have a roof. But who cared if it didn’t? Destined to be eaten by fake Tudor guests at a fake Tudor banquet, it wasn’t as if anyone was going to lose their head for it – not even, alas, at Broadcasting House. 

Rachel Cooke trained as a reporter on The Sunday Times. She is now a writer at The Observer. In the 2006 British Press Awards, she was named Interviewer of the Year.

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder

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