Turner Prize Ceremony Detourned


Students protesting against government cuts invaded Tate Britain gallery today as staff were preparing for the televised Turner prize awards ceremony.

Dozens of demonstrators made their way into the building on the north bank of the Thames in the run-up to event which was broadcast on Channel 4. Susan Philipsz won the £25,000 prize for her work Lowlands.

The protesters, numbering between 200 and 400 according to estimates, rendered the winner’s announcement almost inaudible with their chants.

The students, some wearing dunce caps, refused to leave and organised a series of life drawing classes near the entrance to the central London gallery…

(iPhone video recording of the teach-in here.)

Two hundred students from Goldsmiths, the Slade, St Martin’s, Camberwell and other world-famous art and fashion colleges are intoning their demands in solemn unison, their voices amplified by the heavenly acoustics of the stone hallway into which they have been shepherded by the police. They mobilised via Facebook and Twitter to disrupt the Turner award ceremony in protest against upcoming government cuts to arts and humanities funding, higher education and public sector jobs. “We are not just here to fight fees!” they yell. “We are here to fight philistinism!”


Suddenly, we’re through the looking glass. On one side of this screen, sullen middle-aged people have been made rich beyond their wildest dreams by exploiting popular nihilism; on the other, the age of apathy has ended as the trendy wing of Britain’s disenfranchised youth reminds the wealthy that there’s more to radicalism than pickling half a sheep in some preserving fluid. They are crammed into an alcove conducting what one dreamy-eyed young hipster solemnly informs me is a “noise protest”, shouting down Miuccia Prada as she awards the prize to a more gentle and considered sound installation. (Laurie Penny, “Protesting the Turner Prize: Is This the Death of Irony?”)

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Filed under activism, alternative education, contemporary art, film and video, student movements

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