Simon Wilson, curator of interpretation at the Tate Gallery, puts the case for three of this year's Turner Prize shortlist and Brian Sewell, art critic for the 'Evening Standard', argues against

Damien Hirst's

Away From The Flock

The case for: "It works at lots of different levels. The first level to think about is that it's an image of a sheep - not painted, or sculpted, but presented as art so what you have there is a new way of bringing reality into the art gallery. Many people's reaction is: 'So what, it's just a dead sheep in a tank.' But it's not any old sheep. It's actually a lamb in a particular pose. It looks frightened: it's got its head tilted back and its ears are laid flat. It looks incredibly cute at first, but it's in a tank similar to those used in laboratories. Hirst's work is partly a comment on the way we study the natural world by killing and preserving it. The title also has sinister connotations: this lamb has strayed from the flock and bam, it's dead. It suggests notions of sin and Christ as the good shepherd."

The case against: "I don't think of it as art. I don't think pickling something and putting it into a glass case makes it a work of art. You might as well try it with a tea-cosy or milk bottle. It is no more interesting than a stuffed pike over a pub door. Indeed there may well be more art in a stuffed pike than a dead sheep. I really cannot accept the idiocy that 'the thing is the thing is the thing', which is really the best argument they can produce. It's contemptible."

Mona Hatoum's

Corps Etranger

The case for: "Mona Hatoum's work is about finding new ways of dealing with reality in art. In Corps Etranger she's using video and modern medical technology to present reality in a new way. The work consists of a minimalist piece of architecture with two narrow entrances opposite each other. In the middle there is a circular image on the floor showing what at first one sees as a beautiful pattern of colours. Then you realise it's the inside of a human body. At the same time you're hearing these extraordinary sounds, of blood rushing through veins and air whistling in and out of lungs. It reveals the inside of the body, whereas mostly art has concentrated until now on the outside. It also has a social agenda to do with the way the female body is viewed. For men, it can be a prurient or threatening experience. When the endoscope plunges into the orifices, one feels drawn in as well."

The case against: "I think stuffing medical instruments up your backside and fanny and down your throat, then taking photographs and saying this is art is a manifest absurdity, and the Tate ought to be thoroughly ashamed of itself. I would like an articulate defence of that as a work of art from Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, himself. I don't want to hear from any of his minions. If he's going to stuff that new building on the South Bank [the proposed Bankside Tate] with that kind of thing, then the project should be stopped at once."

Mark Wallinger's

A Real Work of Art

The case for: "This is to do with a similar issue: the relationship between art and reality. Mark Wallinger is fascinated by the idea of creating a work of art which is no different from the reality it represents. A great deal of his work is about horse racing because he sees that world as an amazing microcosm of British society, with class, money and power writ large. It also raises the issue of bloodlines and breeding seen in both racehorses and the English class system."

The case against: "That's just absurd. If anything is a real work of art, it's the wild fox I saw in the street this morning. That was beautiful. That gave a lift to my spirit such as I've not had in donkey's years. These people are encouraged by the Serotas of this world to believe they are artists. Somebody should slap them down. There's quite clearly a conspiracy. I don't mean that in a sinister sense, but there's no doubt that all major exhibition spaces in London are in unison over this and most art critics are on the bandwagon."

Interviews by

Marianne Macdonald

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all