Films and funny puppets vie for Turner art prize

Mon Oct 1, 2012 10:03pm EDT
 
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters) - What do a nudist, an inflatable slide, an oracle and Barabbas have in common? They're all part of just one finalist's exhibition in the running for Britain's most controversial annual art prize.

Turner Prize finalist Spartacus Chetwynd's "Odd Man Out" show comprises two theatrical performances using poorly constructed homemade costumes and puppets with paper backdrops in a deliberate effort to shy away from "professional" art.

Chetwynd, who lives in a nudist colony and wore a false beard during her interview with the press, is one of four finalists given an exhibition at the Tate Britain museum in London and the chance to win the 25,000 pound ($40,600) Turner Prize live on Britain's Channel 4 television network on December 3.

Her installations will vie with film from Elizabeth Price, Paul Noble's painstaking graphite on paper drawings of the imaginary metropolis of "Nobson Newtown" and Luke Fowler's combination of mundane photographs and a 93-minute film on the life of a maverick Scottish psychiatrist.

Chetwynd's carnivalesque performances and sculptural installations are said to create an "atmosphere of joyful improvisation" in the notes describing the installation.

One show is in a makeshift room covered in giant sheets of paper decorated with pictures of parrots, snakes and people, where audience members are invited to individually prostrate themselves before a rag puppet "oracle" in the shape of a mandrake root held reverentially by men dressed in green.

Once prostrate, the oracle delivers its message saying things like "84 percent of people have more sense than you" or "you will lose your mobile phone" or "watch out for Dave".

"The show is meant to be celebrating political ineptitude, so it's not complaining about misrepresentation or the two-party voting system," Chetwynd told reporters after performing. "It's just saying 'Oh my God look at this, have a laugh at this or what about how about having a deity for a while.'"   Continued...

 
Performers present a puppet show as part of 'Odd Man Out 2011' by artist Spartacus Chetwynd at Tate Britain in London October 1, 2012. REUTERS/Toby Melville