Queer artist Jesse Darling awarded prestigious Turner Prize 2023

Judges for the 2023 Turner Prize described Jesse Darling's politically-charged winning installation as "invoking societal breakdown".

The image shows trans artist Jesse Darling who won the 2023 Turner Prize. In the photo, he is standing in front of metal barriers with fallen bunting of the Union Jack flag. He is wearing a navy sports jacket over a grey waistcoat with a pink and blue checked shirt underneath. He has a slight moustache and is biting his index finger.
Image: @townergallery via Instagram

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.


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.”

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.