Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

Turner Prize 2008

Posted in Reviews by mingjiuntsai on October 23, 2008

Spending over one hour for the exhibition of the shortlisted artists of the Tuner Prize 2008, I left the Tate Britain with a frown. I can’t really figure out which part going wrong with this exhibition; do I have too much expectation, or is the exhibition literally problematic?

There is the first chamber for Goshka Macuga, who is nominated for her solo exhibition Objects in Relation, Art Now at Tate Britain and her contribution to the 5th Berlin Biennial, which is installed three sculptures and several photographic works. Macuga shows a strong intention through her sculptures to explore the relationship between the viewers, the work and the space by combining different characters of the materials – glass, metal and fabric. Her photographic works are hung in a line around the room. In some of the works, she juxtaposes drawings with photographs by a very rough technique, which seems to protrude the collage in these works. Walking through a door and here comes the second room for Cathy Wilkes. She is nominated for her solo exhibition at Milton Keynes Gallery. In the central of the huge square room, a mass of complex installation, which gathers various everyday-life readymades from supermarket cashers to mugs and some paintings, constructs a scene of disorder. As approaching more details of the work, the audience keeps walking ‘in’ the work without being aware until they are hold back by the guard.

Runa Islam, who is nominated for her solo exhibition Centre of Gravity at Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen and National Museum of Art, Oslo. Her three video-works are showed in three separated rooms, which present huge varieties of video art, and make her the highlight artist in the shortlist to me. Be The First To see What you see As You see It (2004) creates an uneasy atmosphere via the woman who acts extremely restful and shatters the elegant tea set in the video. In the second work Production still from CINEMATOGRAPHY (2007), she shows a different visual experience through the images that are captured by the camera. Generating a totally different sensation, First Day of spring (2005) manipulates simple shooting angles to create a rather poetic documentary-like film. The last section exhibits Mark Leckey’s work that has a distinct formation from the others. He is nominated for his solo exhibitions Industrial Light & Magic at Le Consortium, Dijon, and Resident at Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne. He uses wide-range of practices, such as video, sculpture and performance, to illustrate his concept. The main structure of his work is the film in which he holds a lecture about the formula for transition and evaluation, and other installations in the exhibition site – sculptures and videos – are mostly being one part of the film.

I was surprised that it’s hard for me to distinguish whether the works or the exhibition are unattractive when I left the exhibition. According to the Turner Prize Q & A on the Tate Britain website, the aim of the prize is to focus attention on new developments in the visual art. However, the curatorial strategy for this shortlist’s exhibition seems to show nothing particular of these artists except Islam, whose works are projected videos. Moreover, it also mentions on the website that ‘the exhibition lets the public see and discuss the work of the shortlisted artists.’ (, 10/2008.) In this aspect, can the exhibition merely achieve the form like a catalogue of the Turner Prize to the audience? Even thought the artists aren’t judged on this exhibition, it should still be an exhibition that can well present the artists’ works rather than simply set their works into four sections, in which the works are not ideally organized as a solo exhibition (the way it should have been) but more like a check list.

Since I haven’t seen any of the nominated exhibitions, I would not harshly criticise that some of the works are really un-impressive. Although, it is difficult for me to know that if the judges select a good shortlist for the Prize from this shortlist exhibition. The show is pretty much as I was happily looking forward a delicious and charming dish but end up with having a big pot of stew, a farrago of the Turner Prize 2008.


Turner Prize 2008

The Tate Britain Museum

30th/ September/ 2008 – 18th/January/ 2009


Reference, 2008, Turner Prize Q & A,, accessed on 16/ 10/ 2008. 


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