Mittwoch, 29. April 2009

turner prize 2009

The shortlist for this year's Turner Prize has been announced, and if nurbn was sitting on the panel, Roger Hiorn would be a shoo-in.

Lucy Skaer's wit and daring in secretly hiding butterfly pulpae in courtrooms deserves an honorable mention. The image of a colourful plume of life erupting just as the judge brings down his hammer on some small time crook adds a fascinating dimension to the boring world of jurisdiction. In the sort of lollipop land where this idea could become mainstream I envisage a selection of flying organisms being held in storage for various different situations. Butterflies would be released if the popular verdict was met and a dangerous paedophile was locked away, making the world a happier, safer place. Doves would flock towards the ceiling after the next big war tribunal success, marking one step closer to global peace. On the flipside, a plague of rancid flies,
perhaps accompanied by evil laughter and the Imperial March from Star Wars, could mark the failure to bring down a crooked investment fraud due to some obscure legal loophole. In the event of complete chaos, rather than banging his hammer and barking "order order", the judge could release a swarm of wasps and have the courtrom cleared in seconds. The possibilities are endless.

But back to Hiorn, and his incredible 'Seizure'. The scale of the project, which involved sealing an entire South London bedsit in a steel tank and pouring in 70 000 litres of copper sulphate, is immense, and the effect is breathtaking. It is an impossible, eerily bizarre world, one where the everyday chemical reactions we witness without registering are replaced by something entirely alien.

It's like stumbling through unchartered caves in ancient ranges, squeezing through the tinyest of holes to find a chamber that is singing with crystals, set on fire by its very own substance. Except it's not, because this is a man-made world, something recognisable, even banal, just a bedsit.

It's like finding the hulking wreck of a sunken ship 100 years on, after it has rusted into the surrounding seabed and been adopted by lifeforms that had no business in doing so. Except it's not, because this happened in an instance, a short exposure. Flash! It has not gradually acclimatised to the strange world around it, but rather spasmed in to high contrast, overly saturated and blindingly bright.

It's like walking into the Chernobyl reactors and feeling the presence of something catastrophic and unimaginable. A moment laminated in time, weighing down on you, throbbing as it tries to break free and resume normality. Except it's not, because it's beautiful; a balance of control and chaos that results in refreshing harmony, not in the sickening humidity of a nuclear meltdown.

It's a bit like this. Except it's art, the vision of one person, and for the first time in years of trapped bears and retro cartoons it thoroughly deserves this prize.

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