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Turner Prize 2012 @ Tate Britain

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by Helen Crane (subscribe)
Freelance writer living in South London. Read my no-nonsense art and culture blog here:
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The controversial art prize returns - who are you backing?
Love it or hate it, the controversial art competition is back for another year - and although critics have said that the work is less conceptual this time around (read: no unmade beds or lights switching on and off) opinions remain divided as ever.

On show until the winner is announced in December, the exhibition showcases the work of the four shortlisted artists, all of whom are under 50 years old and living and working in Britain. This year's nominated works are many things: funny, absurd, skilful and moving to name but a few.

Bookies' favourite Paul Noble has made his name with a series of painstakingly detailed pencil drawings, many of which depict buildings and landscapes in his fictional universe, 'Nobson Newtown'. One of the cruder features of these drawing is the perfectly formed turds which crop up every now and again, and which Noble is so fond of that he has even immortalised them in marble statues, also featured in the Tate show. However, the humour shouldn't detract from the technical skill involved in the work - the intense attention to detail and the elements of architectural drawing used by the artist mean that Noble's pieces can be viewed again and again, with the viewer noticing something different each time.

There are two film makers shortlisted for this year's prize; the first of which is Scottish artist Luke Fowler. His film, 'All Divided Selves', is based upon the life and work of controversial psychologist RD Laing. With a runtime of 93 minutes this requires some commitment, but its exploration of schizophrenia and diagnosing mental illness is both moving in its subject matter and beautifully edited. The film has a journalistic element, and features historical archive footage and soundbites from Janet Street Porter amongst others.

The second film piece comes from Elizabeth Price, who focuses upon a fire in a branch of Woolworths in 1979. Borrowing its sequence from the conventions of drama, the result is haunting, with excerpts from music videos used to great effect.

Perhaps the most absurd entry is that of Spartacus Chetwynd, a performance artist who lives and works in a nudist colony. Her lively shows, involving colourful collaged sets, a giant blow-up slide and costumed actors who usher the audience around, are performed from 12 - 5pm every day, are definitely something to be experienced.

The comments written on the opinions wall are a testament to the show's unique ability to generate debate and discussion. "I HEART PAUL NOBLE," exclaims one, whilst another professes "If you don't give it to Spartacus, you are stupid". As always, a must-see for anyone who's serious about modern art.
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Why? A must-see for all modern art fans
When: 10.00-18.00 daily
Phone: 020 7887 8888
Where: Tate Britain
Cost: 10, 8.50 concessions
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