The bookies were right. Martin Boyce is the winner of the 2011 Turner Prize. The Glasgow-based artist (born in Hamilton, Scotland, in 1967) has just received the £25,000 ($39,124) award from a beaming Mario Testino during a ceremony at the BALTIC The Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. It is the third time that an artist based in Scotland's largest city has won the Turner Prize - an indisputable confirmation of Glasgow's place as the UK's second art capital.
The ceremony wasn't without incident: Testino had only said the winner's first name when a chubby protester, wearing a pink tutu and with the slogan "Study This" scribbled on his bare chest, stormed in. He was immediately taken away by security.
"I didn't expect that," said Martin Boyce coolly as he reached the podium. He then recalled with emotion how much he wanted to go to art school, and thanked the "amazing support" of his peer group. About a million viewers were expected to be watching the ceremony live on Channel 4, and Boyce seized his chance to show his concern over reforms in higher education and the vast increase in tuition fees. "As education is put through the wringer, I want to acknowledge the importance of accessible education," he said.
A similar disruption in protest of arts cuts occurred at the 2010 Turner Prize announcement, and that edition's winner, Susan Philipsz, struck a similarly gracious note of solidarity.
During his spiel, Testino said that we should pay attention to the "things we don't understand" and yet this year's jury has clearly gone for the easiest on the eye. Boyce's sculptural pieces currently on show at BALTIC are inspired by modernist designers Jean Prouvé and Jöel and Jan Martel. Together they form an architectural environment, each piece echoing the next.
"At some point, I became interested in making places rather than objects," Martin Boyce said in a short film screened before the ceremony. "I guess it's about the potential of finding... potentially beauty, potentially hope."
Image: Photo by Coline Milliard, Martin Boyce accepts his Turner Prize
by Coline Milliard, ARTINFO UK, Published: December 5, 2011