Jesse Darling Turner 2023

by Alain Chivilò


The Turner Prize 2023 went to the artist Jesse Darling.

For the jury, Darling’s recent practice encompasses sculpture, installation, text and drawing. The jury commended his use of materials and commonplace objects like concrete, welded barriers, hazard tape, office files and net curtains, to convey a familiar yet delirious world. Invoking societal breakdown, his presentation unsettles perceived notions of labour, class, Britishness and power. The members of the Turner Prize 2023 jury are: Martin Clark, Director, Camden Art Centre, Cédric Fauq, Chief Curator, Capc musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, Melanie Keen, Director of Wellcome Collection and Helen Nisbet, CEO and Artistic Director, Cromwell Place. The jury is chaired by Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain.

The winner in his statements: “This was the most public gig I’m ever going to do in Britain. I mean, the British public reasonably don’t care about contemporary art, because they’ve got plenty of bad things to deal with, especially at the moment. But the Turner prize does feel a bit like public property and rightly so. So the whole British thing in this show is quite on the nose. I won’t do it again”. Moreover, Darling said: “I was in sculpture and had no idea what the hell was going on. I looked at all these amazingly dressed kids just making work. I was like, Wow, someone really believed in you, didn’t they’ And I just had nothing going for me except that I’d had a life – but I was very defensive and tricky”. About the pounds, better the £25,000: “I don’t think I was really put on this Earth to make luxury objects for a class of people who have nothing in common with me and mine and who, frankly, have contempt for everything I love. And so I’m like. How can I use my limited skill set, my unemployable psychotic logic, to do something else?”.

The finalist artists for the Turner Prize 2023 are on show at Towner Eastbourne, from 28 September 2023 to 14 April 2024: Jesse Darling, Rory Pilgrim, Barbara Walker and Ghislaine Leung.

The winners in the history of the Turner Prize: 1984 Malcolm Morley; 1985 Howard Hodgkin; 1986 Gilbert & George; 1987 Richard Deacon; 1988 Tony Cragg; 1989 Richard Long; 1991 Anish Kapoor; 1992 Grenville Davey; 1993 Rachel Whiteread; 1994 Antony Gormley; 1995 Damien Hirst; 1996 Douglas Gordon; 1997 Gillian Wearing; 1998 Chris Ofili; 1999 Steve McQueen; 2000 Wolfgang Tillmans; 2001 Martin Creed; 2002 Keith Tyson; 2003 Grayson Perry; 2004 Jeremy Deller; 2005 Simon Starling; 2006 Tomma Abts; 2007 Mark Wallinger; 2008 Mark Leckey; 2009 Richard Wright; 2010 Susan Philipsz; 2011 Martin Boyce; 2012 Elizabeth Price; 2013 Laure Prouvost; 2014 Duncan Campbell; 2015 Assemble; 2016 Helen Marten; 2017 Lubaina Himid; 2018 Charlotte Prodger; 2019 Hamdan/Cammock/Murillo/Shani; 2021 Array Collective; 2022 Veronica Ryan.

The story of the Turner Prize: established in 1984, the Turner Prize is named after the radical British painter JMW Turner (1775-1851). Originating at Tate Britain, every other year the Turner Prize travels to a non-Tate venue in the UK, widening access to contemporary art by bringing it to a local leading arts venue. £25,000 is awarded to the winner, with £10,000 awarded to the other shortlisted artists. 

About the winner: Jesse Darling was born in Oxford in 1981. Darling studied at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and completed an MFA at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London in 2014. In 2021, he released his first collection of poetry, Virgins, Monitor Books (Salford, UK). Jesse Darling is 41 and lives and works in Berlin. Darling works in sculpture, installation, video, drawing, sound, text and performance, using a ‘materialist poetics’ to explore and reimagine the everyday technologies that represent how we live. Darling has often combined industrial materials such as sheet metal and welded steel with everyday objects to explore ideas of the domestic and the institutional, home and state, stability and instability, function and dysfunction, growth and collapse. The acknowledgment of a shared vulnerability inherent in both the individual and the collective body are important considerations in Darling’s practice. Darling was nominated for his solo exhibitions No Medals, No Ribbons at Modern Art Oxford and Enclosures at Camden Art Centre. No Medals, No Ribbons was the largest presentation of the artist’s work to date, in which a freewheeling series of consumer goods, liturgical devices, construction materials, fictional characters and mythical symbols – detached from their own taxonomies and standing in for bodies – proposed alternative ways of thinking and being. A rickety full-sized roller coaster, bent into the skeletal form of a woolly mammoth, evoked parallel histories of extraction, leisure and the museum; an army of plastic bags for cheap chain stores marched in place on steel legs like soldiers; mobility aids, bent into strange shapes, slump and crawl across the floor. These works and others, spanning ten years of his practice, highlighted how systems of power such as government, religion, ideology, technology and empire, can be as fragile and contingent as living things. Darling was the fourth recipient of the Camden Art Centre Freelands Lomax Ceramics Fellowship and the resulting exhibition Enclosures was the culmination of research developed over two years. The exhibition title references the historic Inclosures Act, by which the common lands of Britain were made private property by a ruling class. Darling used his fellowship to explore the histories of extraction, exhumation, property and territory, and to consider clay as a material formed from the architectural, ancestral, cultural, and corporeal bodies of our material world. Other solo exhibitions include: Miserere, St James’s Piccadilly, London (2022); Gravity Road, Kunsteverein Freiburg, Germany (2020); Crevé, Triangle France – Astérides, Marseille, France (2019) and The Ballad of Saint Jerome, Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2018). Group exhibitions include: Exposed, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2023); Trickster Figures: Sculpture and the Body, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (2023); Barbe à Papa, CAPC Bordeaux, France (2022); Drawing in the Continuous Present, The Drawing Center, New York, US (2022); WALK!, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany (2022); Crip Time, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2021); Transcorporealities, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (2019) and May You Live in Interesting Times, 58th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2019); A Fine Line, Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany (2020).

As announced, the 40th anniversary of the Prize, on 2024, will return to Tate Britain for the first time since 2018.


©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo

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