In a year when the shortlist was incredibly strong (not to mention avant garde), the 2012 Turner Prize has just been awarded to Elizabeth Price for her solo exhibition at BALTIC, Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, in which she presented The Woolworths Choir of 1979, her powerful, 20-minute video work about a department store fire in Manchester that killed 10 people. What you can’t tell from looking at the still above is that it’s incongruously set to the music of the Shangri-Las.
Price is the first video artist to take home the Turner in over a decade. As Adrian Searle writes at the Guardian : “The focus and drive of Price’s work, the cutting and the atmosphere, mark her out. There are silences, bursts of music, a terrific play of words and images, and switches in tempo that take us from an analysis of church architecture to a reconstruction of the fire itself by the Manchester authorities. Her use of footage from the fire itself never feels voyeuristic or meritricious. She does a great deal in 20 minutes. Its complexity has stayed with me.”
Click through to watch a video of Price discussing her work, which she describes as moving “from something that looks like a PowerPoint lecture, to something that looks like an infomercial to something that feels like a cinematic melodrama.”