Awaiting the Critics’ Bashing that May Never Come, Turner Prize Shortlist Announced

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Back in the good old days, it used to be that the release of shortlist for the Tate Britain‘s Turner Prize meant it was the start of the season for the British press to start tearing it apart. But then the last two Turner winners, Richard Wright and most recently, Susan Philipsz won the prize, both of whom the press generally liked and heralded as quality, interesting artists. Now that the 2011 shortlist has just been released (it includes Karla Black, Martin Boyce, Hilary Lloyd, and George Shaw), we’re frankly a bit worried that we won’t get to read angry (and often funny) pieces from critics like the Telegraph‘s Richard Dorment, who called 2008’s shortlist, “a certain kind of technically competent, bland, and ultimately empty art made specifically for international biennales.” The Guardian‘s Adrian Searle has already filed his critical look, but by and large he’s always usually fairly even handed and not prone to dramatics, even when he doesn’t particularly care for something. The Daily Mail is a bit more cutting, with the snarky headline referring to Karla Black’s work, “It Could Only Be Turner: Suspended Ball of Plastic is Favourite to Win Prize.” But other than that, thus far everything’s been fairly tame. But we’ll give it time, once all the particularly acid-tongued critics get a chance to see all the pieces in person. However, unlike previous years, those critics, and all other interesting parties, won’t be able to see the shortlisted picks at the Tate. Instead, they’re being hosted at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, a city just shy of 300 miles from its usual home in London. We knew that the Turner Prize shortlist would be shown next year in Northern Ireland, as an effort to spread the art around outside of London, but we supposed they liked the idea so much that they decided to make a year earlier as well. So 2011 will mark “the first time in the show’s 27-year history it has been held outside a Tate gallery and only the second time it has been held outside London.” If we’ve now lost the angry critics and it does seem like a nobel thing to move the art so the rest of the country can see it, we ask at the very least there’s another kerfuffle with press photographers this year. Please?