Monitor: Jewels or dung? The Turner Prize winner, as seen by the newspapers

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The Independent Culture
THE CONTROVERSY over [Ofili's] choice of material - not to mention titles such as Afrodizzia and glued-on cut-outs from pornographic magazines - pales against the outcry over Damien Hurst's pickled and sliced cows in 1995. The idea of using dung - which he sprinkles with glitter and studs with map pins - came to him after a trip to Zimbabwe, where there was a lot of it about. According to Michaela Parkin of the Tate Gallery, he had been frustrated with his work: "One day, he thought, 'I'm going to chuck this stuff at the paintings'. That's how it started."

- Times

THE BOY dung good

- Guardian

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.

- Guardian

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 Harrison

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