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Tate Turner Prize competition controversial, for a change

Monday the Tate Museum was host to another controversy on top of the standard controversy that always attends the museum’s Turner Prize competition.  This one involved a face-off between the museum’s organizers and journalists who came to cover the first showing of this year’s entries.  Members of the press were asked to sign a ‘standard’ document saying that they wouldn’t print anything that might result in bad publicity for the Tate or the exhibition.

It’s a tad ironic, since the Turner Prize was established (in 1984) as a way to get the British public involved in contemporary art by promoting the works of new and non-traditional British artists.  It would seem that the whole idea was to create more publicity, not less.  Since its conception, the Turner competition has certainly aroused its share of controversy, with reactions varying from delight to disgust, and everyone is free to form his or her own opinion.  Past winners have generated both praise and outrage, but that’s human nature in action; you can’t please all of the folks all of the time.

This year’s shortlist of entries includes a painting by Dexter Dalwood, a film by the Otolith Group, a sculpture/installation by Angela de la Cruz and a sound-only presentation by Susan Phillipsz.  None of them are ‘traditional’ in the accepted sense of the word, but they will certainly inspire plenty of comment from critics both amateur and professional.

Museum officials backed down after a couple of hours, journalists got their pictures and presumably the accompanying copy will be uncensored.  The winner of the £25,000 Turner Prize will be announced December 6, and whoever gets it can look forward to a lot of ‘feedback’, probably more of it because of the effort to stifle any negative reviews.


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