THE BOY dung good
IF ANYTHING is to be said for these pictures it is only that all the damned dots and spots are mind-numbing triumphs of idiot industry, and their concentrated tedium is in no way relieved by the random application of pachydermal turds. These lumps of elephant shit are, the writer of the catalogue earnestly informs us, "objects of desire, irresistible jewels [and] sites of energy". How can curators, critics and directors write such rubbish and uphold it with straight faces? How can the Arts Council subsidise such thinking? How can even the Serota Tendency, notorious for its driving fascism in current art politics, compel its members to laud such shit and commend it for the Turner Prize? I am sick of shit in art: has no one in authority the courage to resist it and the infantilism that promotes it?
- Evening Standard
"IT'S AMAZING how the smell seems to follow you around the room."
- cartoon, Times
TURNER PRIZE judges praised the originality, energy and complexity of Chris Ofili's painting. His paintings, which veer from the figurative to the abstract, often star a mythical black superhero called Captain Shit, inspired by the Marvel comics. Captain Shit is surrounded in many pictures by cut-outs of figures from black popular culture, from James Brown to Muhammad Ali. But his work is not exclusively about black experience. "My project is not a PC project," [he] has said. "It allows you to laugh about issues that are potentially serious. There are no rules, and even the ones you set for yourself can be temporary." Ofili is unafraid to incorporate contemporary politics into his work.
THE JURY'S brief is inherently preposterous. Every British artist under 50 is eligible, for work exhibited anywhere in the world, at any time during the previous year; from June 1997 to May 1998. It would be impossible to get the judges to even a fraction of it. There's no Booker-style long- list. So, presumably, they do what most of us in the art world do: rely heavily on hearsay, slides, catalogues and art magazines. This is partly why - unlike this year's Booker, for instance - the list never includes a candidate out of nowhere. While [the Turner] pretends to be a general award (with jury, open submission etc), its true and narrower purpose is to publicise the work of four upcoming artists. But the pretend competition stuff can't be junked, because without it, no big publicity, and that's the bottom line.
- Tom Lubbock, Independent
OFILI, who picked up the dung in Zimbabwe but now gets his supplies from London Zoo, was unrepentant about his unorthodox choice of art materials. "It is pretty straightforward, it comes out of the elephant's arse, it dries up and is ready to go," he said.
- Washington Globe and Mail
Compiled by Sophie HarrisonReuse content