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Turner Prize gets Political

turner prizeThis year’s Turner Prize has been won by British artist Mark Wallinger for his politicised installation State Britain, a recreation of Parliament Square peace campaigner Brian Haw’s Anti-Iraq protest that was destroyed by police in 2006.

Anyone who travelled past London’s Houses of Parliament between 2001 and 2006 could not fail to notice the one-man protest that Haw led continuously from his tent on the square, and in fact continues today, though now carefully within the new protest laws created especially to remove him! Wallinger painstakingly recreated all 40 meters of the the destroyed protest camp in incredible detail, down to the messages of support left by the public, and controversially displayed his replica at a gallery lying half inside the 1km radius of the Palace of Westminster within which these new laws forbid political protest.

So, can you put a price on years of protest? Well Wallinger’s recreation in the Tate Britain earlier this year cost a pricely £90,000 to put together, a fact that meant for the Tate show itself the artist had to present an earlier work, Sleeper, his 2004 film of himself dressed in a bear suit wandering the halls of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, in reference to the Cold War spies.

The jury praised State Britain for “its immediacy, visceral intensity and historic importance” and how it “combines a bold political statement with art’s ability to articulate fundamental human truths” however critics are divided on the result, with some agreeing Wallinger is making an important statement, whilst others see a reproduction of lifeless propaganda and a protest lacking in understanding.

Some opposing views worth reading from the Telegraph and the Guardian.

See the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Liverpool until 13 Jan 2008

Filed under: arts & culture

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