The face of modern art (drawn on a banana)

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The Independent Online

Voodoo drawings on bananas, real-life security guards and animal sculptures crafted from carpet fluff, it can only be the Beck's Futures modern art prize.

Voodoo drawings on bananas, real-life security guards and animal sculptures crafted from carpet fluff, it can only be the Beck's Futures modern art prize.

Five years after the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London launched an award to find the up-and-coming talent who might win the Turner prize in the future, the Beck's Futures has established itself as the home of the avant-garde.

Yesterday's preview of the shortlist, which opens to the public on Friday, confirmed the prize's reputation for provocation and eccentricity.

Take the carpet fluff. Tonico Lemos Auad, 36, a Brazilian sculpture who has worked in London for the past five years, was so bemused by how the British carpeted their homes and offices, he used shag pile to construct his new work. He was also responsible for inscribing voodoo drawings on bananas using pin-pricks. Nicoline van Harskamp, 29, a Dutch artist in London, was so intrigued that Britain had more security cameras than anywhere else in Europe that she made surveillance her theme.

She has employed a range of security guards, from the "beadle" in the Burlington Arcade to Camden borough street wardens, who will patrol the show just as they would carry out their duties normally. The beadle does not allow whistling, singing or running in his arcade and such acts will be similarly banned at the ICA during his "rounds". The Camden street wardens, by comparison, are expected to be friendlier. "We do a lot of community work so it ties in," Michael Blair, the senior street warden, said yesterday.

Although some of the art may be seen as sensationalist, Philip Dodd, the director of the ICA, said he thought that the artists were not out to shock. "There is a sense of sensuousness about this work. It is the first time the Beck's Futures prize has offered that."

Whereas last year's exhibition had an air of do-it-yourself, this year's is more carefully crafted.

Several artists have produced beautiful video works. Haluk Akakce presents screen projections that resemble abstract paintings, Ergin Cavusoglu shows a film of cargo ships in the Bosphorus and Saskia Olde Wolbers tells the story of a car crash victim.

Andrew Cross, inspired by his trainspotting passion, has produced a trilogy of films set on American railways. He has calculated that the winner's cheque of £24,000 would buy six-and-a-half miles of model railway track. "But I want to buy a Saab [car]," he admitted.

Two artists use music. Imogen Stidworthy presents a film of two Cilla Black impersonators singing "Anyone Who Had a Heart", while Susan Philipsz presents a recording of her singing an Irish love song.

The other artists on the shortlist of 10 are Hayley Tompkins, who paints small and delicate abstract watercolours, and Simon Bedwell, who customises old posters.

The exhibition runs until 16 May. Each artist receives £4,000, with the winner - who will be announced on 27 April - collecting an extra £20,000.

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