While Rachel Whiteread’s Embankment was unimpressive at Tate Modern, the next day we were at Tate Britain and delighted to discover that Turner Prize 2005 is well worth a look. I think this year’s contest is the best there’s been for quite some time as for once all the artists seem to have something to say that goes beyond, ‘whatever’.
I suspect the winner will be Gillian Carnegie, even though the film you’ll find here sounds like the narrator’s a pretentious student (its Carnegie reading someone else’s commentary: ‘whatever’). The thing is she’s painting, creating pieces you can put on your wall (so she ticks the boxes for some people’s idea of art), but the work is unmistakably contemporary and draws you in to other worlds.
That said, the most touching work on show here (and it’s not on these works that the artists are judged, but the last year’s output) is Darren Almond’s If I Had You. The kind of installation you associate with the Turner Prize, it really does seem to allow you to share a melancholy moment in his grandmother’s head. The problem with Simon Starling’s Shedboatshed and Tabernus Desert Run is that, as Katharine said, they’re more feats of recycling than art. Yeah, it’s impressive to see how this shed was turned into a boat and back. But I liked the watercolour cactus, a by-product of Tabernus Desert Run best. And it depends on your knowing the history of piece and its manufacture. This leaves Jim Lambie. He was okay, but you’ve seen found pieces and discarded tat turned into art before.
Update 6 December 2005: The winner is Simon Starling.