Carpet fluff and a uniform fetish - art prize shortlist outdoes Turner

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The Independent Online

A Brazilian who sculpts animals from carpet fluff, a Dutch woman with a fetish for men in uniform and a Scot who sings cover versions in bus stations were among the 10 artists shortlisted for the annual Beck's Futures prize yesterday.

Confirming its reputation for surpassing the older and more established Turner Prize for wackiness, the fifth Beck's Futures shortlist includes a mix of nationalities from Bulgarians to Turks producing a range of installations, performance art and painting. After several years of Scotland dominating the award, most of the contenders are based in London.

The shortlisted artists, who are competing for awards of £65,000 in total, will all contribute to an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London from 26 March to 16 May.

Philip Dodd, director of the ICA, said yesterday: "The Daily Mail may believe migrants are bad for Britain, but the artists selected for next year's Beck's Futures show how migrants and the migrant experience constantly renew the creativity to be found in Britain. The Young British Artists were all from Britain, but you could not now look at the next generation of artists without noticing that many of them weren't born here."

Although he described the work of the chosen 10 as art that "above all obeys no orthodoxy", he said there was a common theme among them of movement and change.

In some cases, the theme is self-evident. Andrew Cross, 42, who is from the Cotswolds, has spent the past two decades photographing and filming trains, lorries and American highways.

With other artists, Mr Dodd said, the theme is present but less obvious. In this category are Croydon-born Simon Bedwell, 40, whose posters concern tourism; and Dutch artist Saskia Olde Wolbers, 32, who has made surreal video narratives.

The Brazilian with a penchant for carpet fluff is Tonico Lemos Auad, the uniform fetishist is Nicoline van Harskamp, who is the youngest contender at 28, and the Scot who sings is Belfast-based Susan Philipsz. The other artists are Turkish-born Haluk Akakce; Ergin Cavusoglu, who was born in Bulgaria and raised in Turkey; Imogen Stidworthy, who is based in Liverpool; and Hayley Tompkins, who was born in Leighton Buzzard but now works in Glasgow.

All contenders must be working in the UK and must not yet have achieved widespread public recognition. Each wins a cheque for £4,000, with the winner receiving an additional £20,000. Other prizes are awarded in student categories and for film and video.

Mr Dodd said the prize was intended to help artists not yet established in their careers. "We all have respect for the Turner Prize, but talk about the usual suspects...

"I think London is very frightened of contemporary art at present. Everyone is going back to mid-career retrospectives, so I think the Beck's Futures is getting more necessary in giving profile to people who aren't already names."