An Antidote To The Ghastly Turner Prize

The Stuckists
View Two gallery, Mathew Street (6th-29th November 2008, Thu & Fri 12-4pm, Sat 12-5pm)

As artists throughout the centuries have discovered, expressing what you think and feel about the world can be a dangerous business. Istanbul-based Stuckist Michael Dickinson found this out to his cost, when he was arrested, detained for ten days, and charged with insulting the Turkish Prime Minister’s dignity. His Best In Show collage (left) portrays Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a dog, and George Bush awarding him a rosette for his Iraq war support.

Postmodern conceptual artists don’t have to worry about that sort of thing. They inhabit a world where nothing means anything; there are no opinions, only sensationalism and shock value. People such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are often controversial, but in only in the sense of ‘pushing the boundaries’ – a substitute for holding a mirror up to the world, or even looking themselves in the mirror. The establishment courts them and handsomely rewards them for their efforts.

The Stuckists define themselves in opposition to the multi-million pound industry art has become, and they fight for ‘remodernism’ – the “quest for authenticity”, as the original Stuckists Billy Childish and Charles Thomson described it in their 1999 manifesto.

Having said all that, I found this selection the least impressive of the three Stuckist shows I have seen in Liverpool. By the standards of many exhibitions in the city, it is a delight, and it certainly one of the most interesting shows at this year’s Biennial. But that isn’t saying very much.

Perhaps I can put this feeling down to the enormity of the unfolding economic collapse. In the current context, it seems that what’s on show at View Two – frank depictions of sex acts and more denunciations of celebrity culture – doesn’t quite cut it. Even Michael Dickinson’s politically praiseworthy work appears slightly dated, considering faction fights within the Turkish state, and new emperor Obama’s plans for an intensification of the Afghanistan bloodbath.

By definition, culture lags behind the society it represents. But history seems to be speeding up, so even dedicated artists like the Stuckists will be forced to take a long, hard look at themselves and how they relate to the global situation if they want to be authentic, and ‘edgy’ in a good way. At least they’re not afraid of being just that.


5 thoughts on “An Antidote To The Ghastly Turner Prize

  1. yabanji

    Hey Adam,Michael Dickinson here. Thanks for the mention in your review of the Stuckist exhibition in Liverpool. I’m in Istanbul.I like your site. We seem to be on the same wavelength. I wonder if you like the following idea? If you do, please pass it on – WORLD STRIKE 2012 If you agree that the abolition of money would be a fine solution to most of our problems, and that we could create a much better system where EVERYTHING – food and drink, clothing and housing, water, heating, education, health-care and entertainment – shall be FREE for EVERYONE – why not join the World-Wide Strike on the opening day of the Olympic Games in 2012? The Strike will begin the moment the symbolic Olympic flame is lit – the signal for all who support the abolition of money to stop work and demand a new fair world of true freedom and justice. WE WANT A MONEYLESS WORLD


  2. Anonymous

    Hi Adam,I enjoyed reading your report on the Stuckist Show at ViewTwo.However,as an exhibiting artist, I must take issue with you on the relevance of work in the show. I can only speak for myself, but if you check out my tryptych “Tea Party in a Parallel Universe 1,2,& 3” you will find much relevanceto the world around, not least domestic abuse and neglect.A full text commentary for this work can be found on my Saatchi On-line site, which is accessible through the hyperlink on the Stuckist site signposting for the Saatchi Online site.I would then welcome your feedbackand whether you may then reconsider your opinion.RegardsLeo Goatley


  3. Adam Ford

    Merhaba Michael and hi LeoMichael: I will certainly pass that idea on, though hopefully we won’t have to wait that long! And from what I can make out by Googling, the way you stood up to that oppression was great, so solidarity and best wishes to you.Leo: I did not mean to imply that much of the collection was <>ir<>relevant, just that I went with particularly high expectations following my previous encounters with the Stuckists, and they weren’t quite met. I then thought it would be more useful to offer some thoughts on why that might be, rather than describe more artwork, as I would normally do. I hope no offence is taken, because certainly none was meant. And I hope to see some Naive John next time!


  4. Anonymous

    Actually Adam,On the theme of relevance, I feel that the BBC’s inability to deal with Trevor Phillips observation that a comparable Barack Obama could never aspire to the constitutional heights in the UK has brought into sharp focus the need for the cessation of the role of monarchy in the constitution.The media concentrated on Barack Obama as the head of the executive and speculated on whether we could have a black PM. What they totally and deliberately overlooked was that Barack Obama is also the head of state and, as you know, the consanguinitous gene pool of the old Hapsburg Empire does not do black! This inherently racist elitism that determines appointment by lineage and birth is a truly abominable anachronism, that I suspect the royals themselves must feel embarassed about.If you share these sentiments then please use your site to prompt constructive debate on the Mersey and further afield.RegardsLeo


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