Turner Prize: Douglas Gordon is first video artist to win

£20,000 for thirty-year old Scotsman


London. Britain’s most popular visual art event took place to its usual coverage by Channel 4 TV on 28 November. The £20,000 Turner Prize was awarded to thirty-year old Glaswegian Douglas Gordon at a black-tie dinner in the Tate that gathered together anyone who was anyone in the more intellectual media and arty set.

For this prize, the artist has to be under fifty and is judged on the work produced in the preceding year. Gordon’s rivals were Gary Hume, who paints large, simplified representational works, but in pastel enamel colours; Simon Patterson, who plays almost as cleverly as an ad man with words and devices, changing the names of the stations on a London Underground map into those of film stars, and Craigie Horsfeld who showed a room double hung with black and white photos of groups and individuals in Barcelona, with only their abnormally large size to show that these were photos with aspirations.

One of the judges, the critic Mel Gooding, informed bystanders that Douglas Gordon had been chosen because he expressed our dark side: one work consisted of two TVs, the first showing a smooth and a hairy arm wrestling on crumpled sheet, the second TV, the other pair of arms. This was a conceit for the “divided self”. The other work—which was more gripping to watch—was a slowed down film of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, one screen showing the face in agonised close-up, the second, the same image in negative.

Less than a fortnight later, the Hugo Boss Prize of $50,000 was awarded in New York to Mathew Barney. This is an international prize and it had a correspondingly international board, including Marie-Claude Beaud, former curator of the American Centre in Paris and the art critic Fumio Janjo.