Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Postby AngelaReid » Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:28 pm

Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Two exhibitions worth visiting in Northern Ireland, both running until Sunday 5 January 2014: The TURNER PRIZE at Ebrington Barracks in Derry and SUGAR METROPOLIS at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

TURNER PRIZE:

Beginning with the Turner Prize, a visit to Ebrington Barracks is a little different from Tate Britain; we immediately lose the scale of the London spaces and are instead offered much more intimate galleries to wander through.

Gallery 1 features David Shrigley’s sculpture of an ill-proportioned naked man peeing into a metal bucket (periodically throughout the day). Easels with drawing paper envelop the figure and the audience is encouraged to participate. The walls are filled floor to ceiling with contributions from gallery visitors. The quirkiness of the character’s form, combined with the act of urination, harks back to the late 1990s and would not look out of place in a Saatchi Gallery exhibition from that era. It definitely has the YBA aesthetic. Irreverent. Comical. Anti-high-art.

In Gallery 2 Laure Prouvost offers an indulgence of the senses through video works enclosed within a dark room of tables, chairs and ceramic tea-pots. The domestic ambience works to strong effect and the sub-divisions within the gallery makes for an enjoyable navigation through the different spaces.

Gallery 3 sees a room of paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Arranged in a conservatively-safe hang, akin to the styles adopted by many of the art museums around the world, the large-scale works hold the dimensions of the room perfectly. The viewing pleasure is found in the fact that each portrait is of a black figure, an historical rarity in the art world, leaving us without question that a new history is being alluded to in these works. Only in the last 50 years have we begun to acknowledge that multiple histories exist, this is perhaps the greatest gift of post-modernist thinking. The world can no longer be solely written from the point of view of a ‘white middle-class heterosexual male’. We can now enjoy the equal validity of history as told from the perspectives of black identity, female gender and homosexual orientation. However, just to confuse the issue, the actual narratives in Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings are purely fictional. They are painted in a rapid style that appears raw and immediate.

Gallery 4 is empty. The attendant approaches to introduce the concept behind Tino Sehgal’s ‘The is Exchange’. Naturally, my reaction was ‘This is Disappointing’! Not because Sehgal is not an exceptional artist, but simply because I had already participated in this exact same work in January 2009 at Tate Liverpool. Back then, the attendant, just like today, asked me to discuss the market economy. It was wonderful in 2009 but to repeat it again was not enjoyable. It only works the once. Last year’s Tate Modern commission by Sehgal was extremely impressive, as was his 2013 show at IMMA which left me completely absorbed. Up to this point, I was one of his biggest admirers and tipped him to pick up the Turner Prize based on originality and intelligence, but the lack of a fresh idea for the Turner Prize show has made me seriously reassess his practice. And so the day at Ebrington Barracks ended with an anti-climax. But the strength of Seghal’s other recent exhibitions will probably be enough to secure him the win!

SUGAR METROPOLIS:

A collaborative sculpture installation at the Ulster Museum with half a million sugar cubes has, in some ways, eclipsed the Turner Prize in terms of popularity within Northern Ireland. Over the past 5 weeks, something extraordinary has been created by sculptors Brendan Jamison, Mary McCaffrey, David Turner, Lydia Holmes and Mark Revels. Located in a large room by itself as part of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts Annual Exhibition, the project invited members of the public to help build an imaginary city of the future (from scratch!).

Beginning with a meandering river of sugar and giant mountains of sugar cubes, the landscape became transformed over the past month as a cityscape was born. Over 5,000 people have taken part in its construction, all guided by the team of artists working on the project. The result is one of the most democratic works of art ever created. We witness a bedazzling array of architectural styles through all the varying contributions by members of the public. Some of the most exciting structures are hybrid designs, started by one person, completed by another. Other pieces have been joined together, whilst some have collapsed over to reveal fascinating internal structures.

The white cube is certainly something all artists have embedded in their subconscious since art college days. It’s often considered the idealised white space to exhibit in. An artist either thinks inside the white cube or in reaction against it. Some successfully circumnavigate its constraints, such as those who pursue performance art and outdoor sculptures, or those who deliberately exhibit in non-gallery contexts. Either way, we can never escape the cube’s structure. And so, on one level, Sugar Metropolis becomes a celebration of the model ‘gallery cube’ as seen all around the world!

On another level, it references the symbiotic relationship between art and sugar in 19th Century Victorian England. Following a lifelong passion for collecting art, it was in 1897 when sugar merchant Sir Henry Tate donated his art collection and funds to build the first Tate Gallery, a public space designed to be free for the entire nation to enjoy viewing art.

And then there’s the slave trade too, proving sugar is a material with so many associations and cultural references. In summary, ‘Sugar Metropolis’ offers the gallery visitor an historical, architectural and conceptual richness whilst also touching the audience with a multi-sensory experience. How many of us can resist imagining the sugar dissolve on our tongue? Fresh. Absorbing. Interactive. Post-modernist. Playful. Magical.
Attachments
Image18SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb1.jpg
Lydia Holmes completing a curving wall in SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Image18SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb1.jpg (100.26 KiB) Viewed 4396 times
Image31SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg
Mary McCaffrey building an organic structure in SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Image31SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg (106.88 KiB) Viewed 4396 times
Image27SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg
David Turner completing the Infinity Tower in SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Image27SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg (96.23 KiB) Viewed 4396 times
Last edited by AngelaReid on Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:21 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Postby AngelaReid » Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:30 pm

Inter-generational teamwork at SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Attachments
Image30SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg
Inter-generational teamwork at SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Image30SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg (104.9 KiB) Viewed 4395 times
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Re: Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Postby AngelaReid » Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:33 pm

Mary McCaffrey completing a section of SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Attachments
Image9SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg
Mary McCaffrey completing a section of SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Image9SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg (117.63 KiB) Viewed 4394 times
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Re: Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Postby AngelaReid » Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:35 pm

Children on the last day of construction at SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Attachments
Image10SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg
Children on the last day of construction at SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Image10SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb.jpg (115.69 KiB) Viewed 4393 times
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Re: Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Postby AngelaReid » Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:37 pm

Ulster Museum visitors constructing parts of SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Attachments
Image16SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb1.jpg
Ulster Museum visitors constructing parts of SUGAR METROPOLIS (2013) Sugar cubes. Installation dimensions: 180 x 900 x 700 cms. Photography courtesy of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts
Image16SugarMetropolis2013atUlsterMuseumBelfastweb1.jpg (86.99 KiB) Viewed 4392 times
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Re: Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Postby Jim » Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:06 pm

How sweet!
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Re: Turner Prize and Sugar Metropolis

Postby CAP » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:14 pm

Mary definitely looks like she's got a bit of a sugar buzz going... ;)
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