However, what I’ve found particularly striking is the controversy that seems to have been caused by this gradual but clear movement away from the more traditional pieces dominating entries in the 70s and 80s. While browsing several online articles, I couldn’t help but be struck by the number of reports criticising this year’s heavy representation of audio-visual media as an art form. This year, three out of the four nominated works are films. These are reasonably lengthy displays of artistic film-making and are quite unlike an average cinema movie-style production. These pieces are undoubtedly intense, oftentimes tricky to interpret, nevertheless they have succeeded in making their mark amongst this year’s entries. At the same time they have sparked the popular argument- is this really art?
These new forms undoubtedly represent a more modernist approach to the creation of art. They lack the presence of oils and pastels and introduce a new wave of media that is fresh and current, albeit quite non-conformist. However, to refuse to accept such works as art seems absurd. By definition, art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form. Surely then the use of film as an art form embodies each of these criteria? I read one particular article which stated that this new artistic approach including audio-visual media bordered too closely on entertainment. Can we not appreciate a piece of art due to its entertainment factor? Surely the boundary between art and entertainment is a blurred one. To me, art should fulfil one of two purpose, two objectives that are often intertwined; either to entertain, or to communicate a message from the artist. If the artist’s message is simply that we enjoy their work and take time to appreciate the emotional and creative endeavour behind it, then why can’t that be considered art, whether it be performance art, film or the more traditional painting?
Some may argue that the line must be drawn somewhere. Thinking back to some of artist Damien Hirst’s more recent creations including a series of dead animals preserved, often already dissected, seems slightly more like anatomy than art. And yet at the same time, if it communicates his message, and represents the expression or application of his imagination, perhaps we should be more acceptant of it?
It is a debate that is entirely subjective. Each individual defines art in a different way, judges it through a different lens. One thing is clear in this year’s Turner prize- we are being encouraged to embrace a new art form that is both modern and fresh, and why not? I am of course, only scratching the surface of this debate. However, despite our views on what makes a ‘good’ piece of art, why not try and shake some of the scepticism and accept something which, despite its move from tradition, presents its own very unique blend of both artistic value and entertainment, something which, undoubtedly, classifies it as art.