tate-comment-idiot.jpgAnnual trip to the Turner Prize (and hence Annual Trip to the Morpeth Arms too) threw up the usual half hearted, interesting and dull experiences. Whilst the field is pretty unexciting this year, there were at least two I quite liked, whilst themselves being flawed. After deliberation I’d give it to Phil Collins, though I would much rather see an English language version of his show*. I like the Mark Titchner but the bits I like are a bit Ed Ruscha and frankly he has missed his boat when you consider that the Athena Poster shop would have sold some of this stuff by the bucket-load**.

As ever the Turner is a quick walk through a few rooms (very quick through the Rebecca Warren unfortunately). Until you get to the comment room – which does bleed from Collins’ office too easily – he gets a free extra showing. And the comments room is always a nice wind-down from the exhibition, a moment to digest what you have seen, perhaps discuss with friends and read other peoples comments. Which are a nice wind-up.

Of course you get the “This is shit” stuff, which is par for the course. This is the democratisation of art criticism, and yes: some of it was shitty. They you get the funnies, Phil Collins clearly being the butt of many a Genesis based joke. But interspersed between the hanging cards there is a recurring meme, which I have recreated with my own comments card. The comments cards are the best art in the exhibition.

Geezaesthetics rule one: we are all critics. Rule Two: that there is nothing better than discussion about art. So you would think that I would be sympathetic to this view, that the room where art is discussed IS THE BEST ART. I am sympathetic up to a point, and a point which is as blunt as most of the pencils in comments room. The discussion of art requires the art in the first place. The discussion of the discussion can be interesting, but reductive. And in the end any discussion which takes place on tiny postcards, which are tidied away every day, filled with lame jokes and barely enough room to string together more than a one liner, barely resembles a discussion at all. Let alone decent art. Still I hope that the people who liked this room have considered replicating it in their own living room. With people scrawling “Bathroom was a bit crap” on it.

*What I liked about the Phil Collins
a) Long form interviews. It was just nice to see a talking head for a long time. Oddly this is one of the few gallery film pieces which has worked for me because of the simplicity.
b) Seeing the interviewer. This was great but suffered from the interview being in Turkish. I had to look at who was speaking to read the subtitles, whereas I found the reaction of the interviewer fascinating to the stories.
c) A great topic.
d) He is called Phil Collins!

**There is still a bereft Athena Poster shop in the basement of the Trocadero, closed down for well over ten years now. You can still see the stridently eighties logo, and if you peek through the window an squint you can see a tennis-lady scratching her arse.