Carpenter wins Turner Prize

This year’s prestigious Turner Prize for artistic achievement was awarded to Simon Starling, who successfully dismantled a rotten old wood boat shed he found located on a river bank, constructed its pieces into a boat in which he sailed down the river - and then reconstructed the boat back into a shed. Starling, who fancies himself an “Installation artist,” claims his Shedboatshed is “the physical manifestation of a thought process.” On Monday January 5th, 2006, the London Tate Britain acknowledged the artistic genius and his masterpiece, presenting Starling with its highest prize - and a check for $43,000.

This might indicate progress for the Tate, who last year awarded their 2004 prize to Jeremy Deller, an “artist” who admits not being able to draw or paint. Deller won the Turner Prize for a video he made documenting his travels in Texas - while at least Starling actually crafted something with his hands. Since the Tate judges have mistaken an amateur video film maker and a hobbyist carpenter for professional artists, it makes me wonder if perhaps the judges have been indulging a bit too much in the product manufactured by the official sponsors of the Turner Prize - Gordon’s Gin.

Writing for The Guardian, Stuart Jeffries asked Starling, “Is what you make art?” The Turner Prize winner responded with, “Maybe it isn’t… it’s art because I trained as an artist.” So then, the only difference between Starling and the men who recently re-roofed my house is the lack of formal arts training possessed by the construction workers? If they only had such training they could couple it with a sense of visionary hucksterism, submit their Roof Re-roof construction job to the besotted judges at the Tate, and then enjoy new careers as installation artists. Apparently it doesn’t take much to impress the gaggle of gin-soaked postmodernists at the Tate, who praised Starling for his “unique ability to create poetic narratives which draw together a wide range of cultural, political and historical narratives.”

Meanwhile, in the reality based arts community, the Stuckists held a demonstration outside the award proceedings to protest the sham. The Times of London quoted Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckist movement, as saying; “There are plenty of hobbyists happily occupying themselves in the garden shed doing equally ingenious but ultimately futile enterprises, building Canterbury Cathedral out of matchsticks for example. It’s the sort of thing I had to do when I was in the Scouts. Starling should get his Craft Badge, first class, but not the Turner Prize.”

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