Mark Wallinger wins the Turner Prize

December 3, 2007

Congratulations to Mark Wallinger for winning the Turner Prize. He probably deserves the gong, given his often potent contribution to British art over the last twenty years. I loved his Fourth Plinth statue; certainly a lot better than bloody Alison Lapper.

Wallinger won for a piece called State Britain. At the time, his reassemblage of poor old Brian Haw’s Parliament Square protest was declared a supremely political act. “How rich this work is, and how saddening our state,” burbled the Guardian.

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Interviewed after winning, Wallinger maintained this political line. “By happenstance I was able to make a work that had some relevance to what’s going on in Britain and in the world”, he said, He also paid tribute to Haw: “A remarkable man, who has waged a tireless campaign against the folly and hubris of our government’s foreign policy.”

Haw may well be a special man, although not necessarily in the most complementary sense of that word. His protest, however, is not political, or even campaigning. Much like the anti-war movement itself, it was (and remains) a rag-bag of often competing slogans, all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Spiked had it bang to rights: “you cannot call it a protest, because it is a wail, not an argument”.

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Gordon’s got a brand new tie

November 12, 2007

Gordon Brown is wearing white tie at the Lord Mayor’s banquet tonight.

He has previously been notorious for his refusal to wear formal clothing, even for great public events like the Mansion House speech.

What can this turnaround mean?

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Brown’s tailoring has improved markedly since he became Prime Minister. But the alteration has only served to make him look like everyone else. Take his adoption of the ubiquitous blue tie, a trend imported from America. It is meant to make him look “more decisive, but in a human sort of way”, according to Democratic consultant Donna Brazile. In reality, it just makes him look like David Cameron.

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