Beck's pushes boundaries with 'Bums Breakfast' and smelly shoes
Wednesday 29 March 2006
Worn trainers, an obsolete bus stop and a peculiar rewriting of James Joyce's Ulysses are among the works competing for this year's Beck's Futures Prize for Britain's best young modern artists.
The big-footed Welsh comic Bedwyr Williams, with whom it is often difficult to determine where the jokes end and the art begins, is one of 13 competing for the £20,000 first prize. He offers Walk A Mile In My Shoes - a wall rack of 41 pairs of size 13s, among them tattered trainers, green wellies and worn-down sandals, which gallery visitors can try on. A shoehorn and mirrors are on hand for the discerning critic.
"This work is about an aspect of my life that has ruined walking trips, beach holidays, weddings and football games," said Williams. "I have size 13 feet. Since I was 18, I have struggled with shoe availability. You see a shoe that you like and when the mini-foot shop assistant brings it out in a size 13 it is a strange stretched version." He said the installation was "an invitation to share a little of my ongoing shoe struggle", and added: "Hopefully, I'm poking fun at myself."
The artists' work goes on show to the public from Friday at London's Institute of Contemporary Art on The Mall. For the first time, exhibitions will also run outside London at the Arnolfini, Bristol, and Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts.
The six-strong judging panel, including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Martin Creed and Cornelia Parker, shortlisted Simon Popper for Borromean - a pile of 1,000 reprinted copies of Ulysses, with every word of the original text reordered alphabetically. A toy train on a track, Sinthome, circles the books.
Richard Hughes, from Birmingham, made the cut with recycled rubbish: a repainted old bus stop and a floor-based installation called Bums Breakfast. He said he preferred "the more undesirable, discarded and worthless objects" such as broken furniture, old tyres and used bedding because, as "previously expired remnants of half-forgotten subcultures", they offered a window in to the past. German-born Daniel Sinsel created a canvas of tortellini pasta shapes, stitched out of linen.
The Brazilian Flavia Muller Medeiros, who explores how language influences our perceptions, rerecorded George Bush's inauguration speech using an actor, who reads it in the style of a fast-paced salesman. "I feel cynical of American conservatism and Bush today, whose politics I see as racist and regressive," she said, adding: "However cynical I am ... I am also interested in how powerful and effective they can be."
The prize was launched by Beck's and the ICA in 1999 to support and exhibit emerging UK-based artists at a critical point in their careers. This year, for the first time, the public gets a say in who wins by voting online. The artist who wins that poll receives a vote equal to that of each of the judges. The winner will be announced on 2 May, with the dozen other shortlisted artists sharing £18,000.
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