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Duncan Campbell Wins the 2014 Turner Prize

Duncan Campbell. LISA RASTL/COURTESY MUMOK

Duncan Campbell.

LISA RASTL/COURTESY MUMOK

This year’s Turner Prize, the United Kingdom’s most highly esteemed and controversial art award, has been given to Duncan Campbell for his film It for Others. The 42-year-old Irish artist now joins the ranks of such past winners as Damien Hirst, Douglas Gordon, Steve McQueen, and Martin Creed. The prize comes with £25,000 (about $39,000) prize.

Shot on 16 millimeter film and transferred to digital video, It for Others takes its cues from Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, and Ghislain Cloquet’s 1953 film essay Statues Also Die. Campbell’s 54-minute film looks at cultural imperialism, specifically in the way that museums snatch up artifacts and remove them from their original context. Divided into sections, the film includes images of African masks, bottles, jars, packets, and Das Kapital-inspired Michael Clark choreography. The Guardian’s Laura Cumming, who called Campbell the “obvious winner” in her review of the show of nominees’ work held at the Tate Modern, also noted the political subtext of the 2013 film—it also refers to the way images of IRA martyrs are exploited for emotional and political reasons.

The 2014 edition of the Turner Prize was unusual because none of its nominees—Campbell, James Richards, Tris Vonna-Michell, and Ciara Phillips—generated any scandals through or around their work. All of the work had a strong conceptual component, which has become the norm for the Turner Prize, and none of it involved painting or sculpture.

More work by Campbell can be seen at his first major museum show, on view through the end of March at Dublin’s Irish Museum of Modern Art.

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