The Turner Prize 2023, one of the world’s most prestigious arts awards, was won by British queer artist Jesse Darling.
The £25,000 cheque, which was presented by rap artist Tinie Tempah, was awarded to Darling for his installation during a ceremony on Tuesday, December 5, in Towner Eastbourne.
The provocative mixed media artwork was made using a collection of crowd barriers with distorted elongated legs, barbed wire, red and white hazard tape, a stack of office folders and torn Union Jack flags, all combined to articulate a strong political statement about class and austerity.
Judges for this year’s Turner Prize described the work by the queer artist as “invoking societal breakdown”, which “unsettles perceived notions of labour, class, Britishness and power.”
In a politically charged acceptance speech, the Oxford-born artist, who currently resides in Berlin, said, “Margaret Thatcher… sort of paved the way for the greatest trick that the Tories ever pulled, which was to convince the working people of Britain that study, self-expression, and what the broadsheet supplements describe as culture, is only for particular kinds of people from particular socioeconomic backgrounds.”
He continued, “And I just want to say don’t buy in, I’m talking to the public, I’m talking to the British public, don’t buy in, it’s for everyone.”
During the subsequent applause, he reached into his jacket, pulled out a Palestinian flag and waved it above his head in a sign of solidarity with those affected by the ongoing conflict.
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The Guardian reports that he later explained, “There’s a genocide going on, and I wanted to say something about it on the BBC.”
After his prestigious win, he spoke to the BBC, who broadcasted the awards ceremony and explained, “You have to love something to be able to critique it. I was born in this country and I’m looking at what’s going on here.
“I wanted to make a work that reflected that, and I wanted to make work about Britain for the British public. Whether they like it or don’t like it, it was a great honour and privilege to be able to do something so public for the British public.”
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