Shop checkouts, falling cup film vie for art prize

Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:02am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A messy supermarket checkout flanked by a mannequin doll on a toilet will vie with a video of a teacup and saucer smashing on the floor for Britain's Turner Prize, one of the contemporary art world's top awards.

The annual event traditionally sparks debate about what art is, and 2008 is likely to be no exception with one critic calling works by the four nominees "a very inscrutable bunch."

Grabbing most attention at the press preview on Monday of a Tate Britain exhibition featuring the four shortlisted artists was Belfast-born Cathy Wilkes' "I Give You All My Money."

The installation features two supermarket checkouts covered in dirty dishes and surrounded by a ladder, tiles, a mannequin sitting on a toilet and another with its head in a bird cage.

"It's incredibly carefully composed and precisely placed and formed from ready-made objects we find in the everyday world ... as well as incredibly personal objects -- bowls that she's fed her family and her children from," said curator Carolyn Kerr.

"They are drawn together to form a story, but not a story that's specific or defined," she added.

Art critic Rachel Campbell-Johnston said Wilkes' work, though defying easy interpretation, may be the most approachable of all the four shortlisted artists.

"If you are going to come along and say 'What does it mean?', you're not going to get ... an answer in this piece. It's a long surrealist journey," she told the BBC.   Continued...

<p>A film work by Turner prize nominee Runa Islam entitled 'Be The First To See What You See As You See It' is seen on display at Tate Britain in London September 29, 2008. The winner of the annual 25,000 pound ($45,000) prize will be announced on December 1. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>