The Pick - Hues and cries turned inside out

October 14, 2010

Turner Prize 2010

Tate Britain

Until 3 January 2011

This year's Turner Prize nominees, whose work is now on display at Tate Britain in London, are well chosen to arouse the usual mixture of enthusiasm, bafflement and outrage.

Angela de la Cruz's work is expressly designed to address the question: "When is a painting not a painting?" Many pieces start as normal canvases and are then ripped apart, distorted or stretched out into three dimensions. Clutter I consists of discarded bits of paintings from around her studio covered by a single sheet of black painted canvas, while the Deflated series features glossy sheets of canvas - usually in the bright primary colours of high fashion - twisted and hung up on the wall like coats.

Although Susan Philipsz considers herself a visual artist, she takes literally the idea that sound can "fill a room", and creates audio installations of herself singing. They are often placed in public spaces such as stairwells or supermarkets, where her voice has to cut through the everyday noise. Lowlands fragments and intertwines three versions of a 16th-century Scottish sea shanty about a drowned lover returning as a ghost. It was originally installed below a bridge on the Clyde in Philipsz's native Glasgow, with the water echoing around, but has now been reborn in an antiseptic white room in the Tate.

The Otolith Group is made up of Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar. Fascinated by science fiction and the history of cinema, they work in a variety of media from photography to book art. Otolith III, a 49-minute video, draws on an unrealised script by the Indian director Satyajit Ray, in which a boy from a remote Bengali village befriends a visiting alien. The artists have taken the central characters - the Boy, the Engineer, the Industrialist and the Journalist - and given them new voices as they wander around the changing scenes of contemporary London.

Dexter Dalwood is a painter who produces images of writers' rooms, scenes from literature or iconic moments from recent history, such as the 2003 death of scientist David Kelly. All achieve their particular eerie effect from the fact that the central characters never appear.

The pictures rely on planes of bright colours to deliver an "emotional thump" and make constant use of "sampling as a language", with clear quotations of well-known motifs from the history of art. Herman Melville, for example, portrays the cabin in Moby-Dick, with its porthole and table, set with candles, wine, glasses and plates, juxtaposed with some Cubist candles from a painting by Picasso.

This year's Turner Prize, which is given to an artist under 50 born, living or working in Britain, will be awarded at Tate Britain on 6 December.

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