Animals, it seems, are the key to success. Last time round, a man in a bear suit walked off with Britain's premier art prize. This year, the Turner Prize, announced last night, was awarded to a man who took inspiration from Felix the Cat.
The prize has stirred controversy for nearly a quarter of a century with winning works ranging from empty rooms to elephant dung sculptures. This year was no different, with critics complaining about the calibre of the shortlisted entries, with some calling the offerings the "worst on record".
Mark Leckey, a 43-year-old artist from London who received the £25,000 prize from the musican Nick Cave at a ceremony in Tate Britain, submitted videos and sculptures of animals. A key part of his entry was a lecture, entitled Cinema-in-the-Round, which featured a voiceover by Leckey and an episode of The Simpsons in which the character, Homer, registers his horror as he turns into a three-dimensional being. Leckey, who had been the critics' favourite, was shortlisted alongside Runa Islam, whose video shows women smashing crockery, Cathy Wilkes, whose sculpture features a mannequin on a lavatory and Goshka Macuga's installations of "found" objects.
The jury, which included the architect David Adjaye, the director of Frankfurt's Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste; Daniel Birnbaum, deputy director of Modern Art Oxford; the editor of Frieze, Jennifer Higgie and the director of Tate Britain, Stephen Deuchar, said it admired the "outstanding presentations" produced by all four artists.
Known mainly for producing films and sound installations, his breakthrough work was Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, a film made in 1999 on the history of underground dance culture in Britain, a collage of footage found on fan sites and television archives mixed on a home computer.
The Turner Prize is awarded to a British artist under 50 for an exhibition in the past year. Previous winners have included Gilbert & George, Antony Gormley and Damien Hirst.
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