Michael Glover: Let’s hope the Turner Prize judges can stop giggling


Shall we agree to agree that art’s pretty lightweight when all’s said and done? That it’s jokey fluff and flummery for the most part? Life’s certainly a fun house over at the Turner Prize this year.

At the moment of writing it’s odds on for that madcap cartoonist David Shrigley. “Isn’t the poker-faced pretentiousness of contemporary art ripe for a send-up,” you can almost hear the judges thinking.

And then there is that tricksy contender, Tino Sehgal. Like Jeremy Deller, another Turner Prize nominee, Sehgal doesn’t create objects. He involves us in confrontational situations over at the gallery. People run at you and begin questioning your motives, your aspirations. They pursue you up stairs. They treat you as the object of seriously unserious critical attention. 

And then we have Laure Prouvost, who has constructed a shed in which a table is laid with food and crazy crockery. A noisy film plays. It feels like an anarchic madhouse.

So is there no one on the shortlist this year who might suggest that art is other than a knees-up on a street corner? Yes, there is a fine portrait painter of Ghanaian descent called Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who creates soberingly haunting images that seem to border on racial stereotyping, then veer off again. Let’s hope the judges notice her talent.