Knifehandchop Vs. The Turner Prize


Written by James Read
19 Monday 19th November 2007

Turner Prize Winner 1987
Richard Deacon, For Those Who Have Ears #2, 1983
Tate © Richard Deacon

Billy's initial reaction to this Richard Deacon piece was to ask: "Wow, is this a Hot Wheels track?" I explain that here in the UK we call it Scalectrix and that sadly I don't think the watchful attendants will allow us to test his theory out.

Turner Prize Winner 1985
Howard Hodgkin, A Small Thing But My Own, 1983 - 5
© Howard Hodgkin

Billy tells me that he feels he can respond better to art like this that doesn’t hold any kind of realist form than when there’s a distracting glimmer of recognition (such as in Malcolm Morley’s Day Fishing in Heraklion, also displayed). He says that this reminds him of album cover art designs, which he can relate to more, but reassures me that he “still [doesn’t] understand it”. We decide that it’s probably supposed to be a discarded lollipop.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 1990
© Anish Kapoor
Photocredit: J Fernandes and S Drake, Tate Photography

There is a whole room set aside for this piece. It is both very calm and also very eye-catching. It reminds Billy of something from a Canadian version of the Science Museum where beautiful installations like this usually end up coated in acrobatic children. Billy declares that this is his favourite so far. “It’s got great form and it really shows depth through colour." I ask if this is something he might have in his house, to which he says: “Stick a Nintendo there in the middle and you’d definitely have something," before worrying out loud about the possibility of the artist being present in the gallery.

Turner Prize Winner 1995
Damien Hirst, Mother and Child Divided, Exhibition copy 2000 (original 1993)
© Damien Hirst

The famously controversial bisected cow and calf instantly reminds Billy of a scene from The Cell where a live horse gets sliced up. Given that Hirst’s work came seven years earlier, and was referenced as a strong influence on the film, Billy is impressed by its brave originality. It’s impossible not to discuss the shock aspect of a piece like this, and Billy is incredulous at the degree of public outrage such a piece can generate, especially at the cost of column inches to far more important issues.

I remark that the nearby Argininosuccinic Acid is also by Hirst (from his spot paintings series). The fact that the artist displays such diverse approaches seems to please Billy, who finds comfort in the painting, remarking that it looks “like a bedsheet”.

Turner Prize Winner 2003
Grayson Perry, We’ve Found the Body of your Child, 2000
© Grayson Perry
Courtesy Victoria Miro, London

Billy sees a clear artisan skill in these pieces, and believes that it’s important this comes first, before the ideas that it represents. The ideas, however, he’s not so keen on. Billy finds the chosen topic of child abuse to be pretty stale, though admits that “It’s probably very interesting if you’ve been abused." His favourite Perry vase is Golden Ghosts, as this has no inscriptions and so “doesn’t tell you what to think about when you’re looking at it”.

We’ve got a download available for Knifehandchop’s new track, Dirty New York. Click here if you'd like to own it.

Knifehandchop concludes his European tour on 23 Nov at Maria in Berlin.

Listen to more tracks and find out what else he's up to on his website:

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