Recent stories of note:
“The Turner Prize Exhibition Promises to Tell Us Something About the Art of Our Time. In 2023, It’s Complicated”
Jo Lawson-Tancred, Artnet News
“The only artist who wouldn’t be in danger of winning The Turner Prize is Turner.” That impish statement comes from the “Stuckist Manifesto Against the Turner Prize,” written in 2000 by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson. The Stuckists, a plucky group of painters fed up with the art world’s lurch toward the conceptual, also declared that The Turner Prize had become “an ongoing national joke, because of its pathetic and pretentious exhibits,” and that “to call The Turner Prize The Turner Prize is like calling bubble-gum caviar.” Their twenty-three-year-old criticism remains evergreen. Metal pipes to nowhere, an hour-long film garnished with cliches, and a room full of haphazardly placed, deformed fences populate the galleries showing off this year’s finalists. Jo Lawson-Tancred of Artnet News writes that these pieces are difficult: some of them are entirely impenetrable, and others are simply unremarkable. This, she says, is the reason why The Turner Prize Exhibition is now “complicated.” But is it really? Or did the Stuckists have it pinned twenty-three years ago when they wrote: “The Turner Prize should be re-named The Duchamp Award for the destruction of artistic integrity”?
“Rage” is the first word of the Iliad. Or is it? Modern translations have long rendered the epic’s inaugural word, “mēnin,” as “rage” or “wrath.” But a new attempt by Emily Wilson diverges from this tradition, beginning instead: “Goddess, sing of the cataclysmic wrath/ of great Achilles, son of Peleus.” Those jaded by the frequent post-mortem operations on ancient texts for modern political ends will immediately be suspicious of this decision. But Joshua T. Katz—no stranger to the topic of first words and first lines—is more optimistic. He writes that this decision brings to the fore an underappreciated potential aspect of the text: its role as a prayer or hymnal. Thus, opening with “Goddess” implies a “sort of call to prayer” that encompasses the art that follows. Such a shift in tone and focus will no doubt alter how many longtime readers of the great poem approach it—no small feat to accomplish when working with a millennia-old text.
“Our Shakespeare, rise”
Peter Holland, Times Literary Supplement
This year marks the four-hundredth anniversary of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s work. The First Folio, F1, is treated by some with a religious, almost cultic reverence, so its quadricentennial celebration has been understandably large. But controversy remains around the actual history of the text, from its accuracy to its relevance. In the Times Literary Supplement, Peter Holland digs through several new books on the Folio and its legacy, separating the myth from the reality and pointing the way to further sources for Shakespeare study. He considers whether we would have ever received all of Shakespeare’s texts if not for F1 (answer: yes, probably) and whether F1 ought to be considered a collection with primarily political aims (answer: no, probably not). For those with something to learn from Shakespeare—which is everyone—there is a great deal of scholarship here to be excited about.