A struggle for the very soul of art can be found in my in-box today, both involve the name "Turner."
- The Turner Prize, derided by critics as a farce, has been won in the past by pickled sheep and elephant dung. This year it could be the turn of pornography.
The works submitted by the shortlist of four provoked a protest outside the Tate Britain museum by traditional artists.
"The Turner Prize is a national joke. It is the Emperor's new clothes," complained Charles Thomson of the "pro-painting, anti-conceptual art" Stuckist movement.
Among the leading contenders for Turner 2002 is Fiona Banner who graphically wrote out the plot of porn movie "Arsewoman in Wonderland" in lurid pink words on a giant canvas.
"My response to the film was very emotional. It was intimate yet distant, seductive, yet sometimes repulsive," the artist said of the painting that comes with a health warning.
Exhibition creator Katharine Stout, showing reporters round the exhibition Tuesday, said: "Visitors will be warned there is explicit language. If they don't want to read it, they don't have to."
Fiercely defending the shortlist against accusations that the exhibits were pretentious and mediocre, she said: "I think contemporary art in Britain is among the best in the world."
The exhibition is invariably an enormous success, attracting up 70,000 visitors a year. This year's prize will be presented on December 8.
....Pop superstar Madonna swore live on television last year when presenting the prize to conceptual artist Martin Creed who won with his creation of a bare room with a light that switches on and off.
Tracey Emin won fame in 1999 with her unmade bed surrounded by soiled underpants, condoms and champagne corks.
In 1998, avant-garde artist Chris Ofili won with a Virgin Mary made from elephant dung.
In 1995, Damien Hirst won with a sheep pickled in formaldehyde. Artist Tony Kaye once tried to submit a homeless steel worker as his entry for the competition.
The Turner is about art that is startling, provocative, starkly mental in its appeal - art that is clever above all.