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The Woolworths Choir of 1979
December 4, 2012 11:46 AM   Subscribe

The 2012 Turner Prize for modern art has been awarded to video artist Elizabeth Price for her work The Woolworths Choir of 1979 (excerpt). Price beat a number of contenders, including visual artist Paul Noble (nominated for a series of pencil drawings of a fantastic metropolis named Nobson Newtown), Luke Fowler (with a film titled All Divided Selves, about the controversial Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing) and the splendidly named performance artist Spartacus Chetwynd. Before winning the Turner Prize, Price was best known as a member of 1980s indiepop band Talulah Gosh, though is by no means the only former member to have a notable post-band career.
posted by acb (14 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 


Oh, I remember Tallulah Gosh. I think I knew one of them vaguely. The guitarist was a Mitteleurpean Baron, wasn't he? And wasn't Simon Reynolds involved somehow? And didn't one of them die recently?
posted by unSane at 12:02 PM on December 4, 2012


And you realise one of Kenickie presented the prize ...
posted by stuartmm at 12:05 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's an odd change of pace that the Turner winner elicited surprise and slow agreement, instead of the common outcries.
posted by Theta States at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I remember Tallulah Gosh. I think I knew one of them vaguely. The guitarist was a Mitteleurpean Baron, wasn't he? And wasn't Simon Reynolds involved somehow? And didn't one of them die recently?

The drummer, Matthew Fletcher, took his own life some time in the 1990s. I think all other members are still alive.

Amelia still takes time out from overseeing mergers and acquisitions at the Office of Fair Trading to don a summer dress, pick up a tambourine and sing songs about boyfriends' record collections in front of her current band, Tender Trap.
posted by acb at 12:12 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw Amelia Fletcher when she made a guest appearance with the Magnetic Fields at the Barbican in 2010. She also finds time to make thoughtful comments about feminism and counterculture and the shortage of female role models in indie music.
posted by verstegan at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2012


I still think exhibitions are a terrible way to show films.

I think the majority of video art doesn't belong in a gallery, and ought to be in cinemas, TV or online. Most of it would be shown up as boring and poorly executed if it had to compete in those contexts.

I went to the Turner Prize show and I liked The Woolworths Choir of 1979. It isn't so different from an Adam Curtis documentary though. And that's a good thing! It could be on BBC Four or something! It's not like it's some non-linear site-specific experience. It has a beginning, a middle and an end!

That said, at 20 minutes it wasn't such a big deal to wait for it to start again. Luke Fowler's film is 90 minutes.

I turned up just after the start of All Divided Selves and I hadn't planned on waiting around for an hour and a half for the next one and then an hour and a half watching it. So I left. I wonder how many people actually watched the whole thing beginning to end.
posted by PJMcPrettypants at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still think exhibitions are a terrible way to show films.

I think the majority of video art doesn't belong in a gallery, and ought to be in cinemas, TV or online. Most of it would be shown up as boring and poorly executed if it had to compete in those contexts.


I would agree. Other than Pipilotti Rist's work, I haven't seen any video that would be ruined by being shown outside of a specific installation.
posted by acb at 3:55 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Elizabeth Price was also in The Carousel.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:58 PM on December 4, 2012


Great to see someone's done a long film (93m) about R.D. Laing. The books were (and remain) remarkable, and (like Reich) certainly stirred up enough antipathy to provoke ad hominem attacks -- and thus to make it certain that he'd revealed inconvenient truths.

Laing asserted that inmates smearing shit on asylum walls was a sane response. It wasn't that many years before madhouses had quietly disappeared throughout the west. Score one "family" tie unknotted.
posted by Twang at 5:17 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the majority of video art doesn't belong in a gallery, and ought to be in cinemas, TV or online. Most of it would be shown up as boring and poorly executed if it had to compete in those contexts.

A key aspect of video art in a gallery is that of a loop - rarely are installations or videos keyed to specific times, or for a specific number of people to assemble (in contrast to the venues you mention). You walk in, typically in the midst of the video, and you wait till it loops back till where you started.

Cinema, for most of its life, has remained tied in to a highly manipulative and problematic dialectic of authority and audience. Site-specific or installation-specific video/film is one way of dealing with these shackles.

Online, of course, anything goes.
posted by beshtya at 5:56 AM on December 5, 2012


I still think exhibitions are a terrible way to show films.

I agree with this so so so much. I have so many problems with the curation of video art these days.

NOTES FOR CURATORS:
Don't just say "25 minute film, on loop" on the sign outside. Show us the time remaining in in the current loop so we can start at the start.
Most video art is experienced in the gallery as someone glancing for 30 seconds and moving on. If someone is interested, inevitably they see the end before the beginning.

COMFY CHAIRS PLEASE. I loved Christian Marclay that much more when I heard he specified his Clock piece required an army of IKEA sofas for the installation.

The magical air of authenticity offered by having your video in a gallery setting should not be essential to its esteem. Upload that shit to UBUweb and let's all get in to it. Or if it requires the specificity of the installation, at the very least work to encourage fullest engagement with it (timers if applicable, proper seating...)
posted by Theta States at 8:14 AM on December 5, 2012


A key aspect of video art in a gallery is that of a loop - rarely are installations or videos keyed to specific times, or for a specific number of people to assemble (in contrast to the venues you mention). You walk in, typically in the midst of the video, and you wait till it loops back till where you started.

While that is fair, I'd argue that much of what is presented in galleries is not optimized as a loop, but a presentation with a narrative structure and/or an temporal aesthetic development.
I think much of what just loops would be best seen from start to finish, thus my desire for a timer.
posted by Theta States at 8:24 AM on December 5, 2012


Curation does not equal presentation. Presenting video is more than simply "COMFY CHAIRS PLEASE". Gallery spaces, for better or for worse, rarely work as a one-time viewing.

Upload that shit to UBUweb and let's all get in to it.

Except, of course, if you cannot, being it 16mm, or VHS, or its atmospheric qualities, or its temporal properties, or the unique melange of sound and motion in a white cube, or the artist's wish for exclusivity. While it vexes me as a child of the internet to not be able to view Paul Sietsema's lovely films on Youtube, I understand his need for medium specificity.

There is a little more nuance to it than "TIMERS AND COMFORT PLEASE!"
posted by beshtya at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


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