Former 1980s pop musician Elizabeth Price was tonight awarded the Turner Prize for her “seductive and immersive” video trilogy, the first video artist to win for over a decade.
Jude Law presented Price with the £25,000 prize. The event returned to Tate Britain, after last year’s ceremony was held at the Baltic in Gateshead, the first time outside a Tate venue.
Price’s work merges archive footage of architecture, news clips, advertising and videos of pop musicians performing. While winners such as Mark Leckey have used elements of video in their work, Steve McQueen was the most recent “pure” video artist to win the prize in 1999.
The Woolworths Choir of 1979 had been described as a “tour de force” in the build-up to the ceremony. It takes viewers from a slow treatise on churches, which is shaken up by 1960s band the Shangri-Las before moving onto news items covering the 1979 fire in a Manchester department store that left 10 dead.
The jury “admired the seductive and immersive qualities of Price’s video trilogy, which reflects the ambition that has characterised her work in recent years”.
“They were impressed by the way Price creates a rhythmic and ritualistic experience through her film installations combining different materials and technical vocabularies from archival footage and popular music videos to advertising.”
London-based Price, 45, who was a member of the pop group Talulah Gosh, said: “I use digital video to try and explore the divergent forces that are at play when you bring so many different technological histories together.”
“We can move between genres and forms from something that looks like a power point lecture to something that looks like an infomercial to something that feels like a cinematic melodrama,” she said, adding: “I’m working intentionally to try and make dense, complex things.”
She said a film takes her a year to make, then she continues to rework it. “I’m interested in the medium of video as something you experience sensually as well as something you might recognise.”
Paul Hobson, director of the Contemporary Art Society, said earlier this year that the work was “immediately absorbing” adding that Price was “an important artist of the current generation.”
Price beat the bookie’s favourite Paul Noble, whose intricate drawings of a fictional town called Nobson Newton, spanned 16 years of his career.
Another nominee to use video was Luke Fowler, whose 93-minute work about psychiatrist RD Laing All Divided Selves, left viewers themselves divided.
The most flamboyant nominee was Spartacus Chetwynd, a performance artist who lives in a nudist colony. One of her works was a puppet show of the Jesus and Barabbas stories, while in the other visitors were invited to lie down and have their future read by a so-called Oracle.
The Turner Prize has been running since 1984 and helped boost the careers of Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, although she never won. Last year sculptor Martin Boyce picked up the award.