The Turner Prize 2004, Channel 4

by | Dec 6, 2004 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A reverential genuflection to the profound tidal forces who shape the art world and, through logical extension, the world around us.

What to say if you didn’t like it

An incoherent shambles that had equal value in modern culture to a pack of unkempt tramps competing in a who can do the funniest shaped shit competition.

What was good about it?

• The clip of winner Jeremy Deller’s Memory Bucket film, where thousands of bats flew across the screen, was very striking.

• Jon Snow made a welcome and understated appearance when he presented Jeremy Deller with the prize.

What was bad about it?

• Matthew Collins’ awful presentation that was reminiscent of Avid Merrion’s Davina McCall, in which he constantly held the microphone away from his mouth while interviewing that meant we couldn’t hear his questions.

• Matthew Collins’ interview technique, when we could actually hear the questions he asked. He concluded a chat with last year’s Turner Prize winner, pottery artist Grayson Perry, by referring to him as “Hairy Potter”. And, worse still, he greeted winner Jeremy

Deller with: “You must be feeling a weird mixture of weird and very good.” Cat Deeley would have asked more taxing posers.

• The high toll of words you usually only ever find in shows about art: kitsch; ambiguous; poetic; one level and the other level; theatrically; abstracted; context; profundity; catalyst; aesthetic; subtext.

• The level of analysis by Channel 4’s “shadow” jury was very superficial and didn’t communicate why the four nominated artists were deserving of the prize.

• The corporate ambience of the whole affair from the glistening champagne glasses that were herded on a table like high class Eastern European prostitutes waiting to be picked up in a hotel lobby by fat Western businessmen to Tate Gallery chairman Nicholas Serota thanking sponsors Gordon’s Gin to confirm Turner’s place suckling in the bosom of commercial thrall.

• The very brief review of the arts year contained nothing about the creation of new art but instead concentrated on the theft or destruction of old art, the gimmick of chimpanzees painting and works fetching record prices at auction.

• When Matthew Collins was deliberating who the winner might be he brought up the bookies’ predictions. It’s bad enough that bookies’ guesswork is brought up in football, but it’s now spreading to other areas that will ultimately lead to a neo-religious conflict where factions based on the avaricious, pseudo-prophetic scripture of Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and William Hill will engage in bloody warfare the length and breadth of high streets across the land.

• Nicholas Serota’s absurd analogy between the tabloid press gloating over the fire at Saatchi’s warehouse that destroyed some British art and the Nazis burning books in the 30s. If artists are ever forbidden to work and forced to wear a derogatory symbol on their clothes to mark them out as pariahs he may have a point, however until that time, his remark appears disgraceful.

• We were never told in clear terms why the film of the trial of Afghan warlord was pulled from the exhibition at the last minute except for nebulous murmurings of “legal reasons” and it being “prejudicial”.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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