Actor Dennis Hopper (left) laughs with artist Mark Wallinger after he won the Turner Prize 2007 at the Tate Liverpool Gallery in Liverpool
Vicky Anderson watched the triumphant artist reinforce his work’s anti-war stance
ANTI-WAR artist Mark Wallinger was named winner of the 2007 Turner Prize during a televised ceremony at the Tate Liverpool last night.
Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper awarded the prize to Wallinger, who was nominated for his political work State Britain and put forward for exhibition his two-hour film Sleeper, featuring the artist dressed as a bear.
Wallinger, who had been the favourite for the prize since nominations were announced, used his acceptance speech to appeal to the Governement: “Bring back the troops, give us back our rights, and trust the people.”
Previous winners and nominees including Grayson Perry and Jake and Dinos Chapman were in attendance at the reception at the Tate, which was held outside of London for the first time in its 23-year history.
Dennis Hopper, star of Easy Rider and Apocalypse Now and an established artist, photographer and art collector, said he was “honoured and excited” to be in Liverpool.
He said: “In my wildest dreams I could have never imagined coming up with a scenario like this, presenting the most prestigious award in the art world.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
Director of Tate Liverpool, Christoph Grunenberg, said it had been “incredibly difficult” for the jury to make its decision.
He said: “The Turner is our kick-off celebration for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year.”
Accepting the award, Wallinger, who was previously nominated for the Turner Prize in 1995, praised peace protester Brian Haw, whose seven-year protest outside Parliament Square he recreated for State Britain.
Mr Haw attended the ceremony and said Wallinger’s win was a “magical moment”.
Also nominated for the £25,000 award – given to British-based artist under 50 – were photographer Zarina Bhimji, Nathan Coley and Mike Nelson.
Exhibitions from each of the artists are on display at the Tate until January.
Speaking to reporters in a press conference after the win, Wallinger said: “I’ve managed to defer this moment for quite a while – I practiced losing.”
State Britain, he said, was “the best thing shown anywhere this year – I don’t feel any modesty about that.”
Earlier yesterday in an interview with the Daily Post, Hopper had praised all the shortlisted artists after seeing the exhibition ahead of the announcement.
“The exhibition is wonderful. I have no favourite and I think the panel are going to have a really hard time.
“[Mark] Wallinger I had heard of, as CNN broadcast the bear outfit, talking about the Turner Prize, but I wasn’t familiar with the others.
“I think that movie of Zarina Bhimji’s is very moving – for something without people in it, it was very interesting. [Nathan Coley’s] There Are No Miracles Here is pretty strong, as is the fantasy biker trip [Mike Nelson’s Amnesiac Shrine]... it’s all interesting, each of them. It’s going to be hard.”
But it was not all high praise for the high art. Last night members of the Stuckist movement, who usually stage a demonstration outside the Turner Prize, spoke out against the “lameness of this year’s show”.
Co-founder Charles Thomson said: “It is Turner Prize as usual: pretentious, futile and boring.”
Mark Wallinger’s film “has all the excitement of watching a pensioner do the shopping at Asda”; Nathan Coley’s installation “looks like something assembled by some dustmen as a joke”, Zarina Bhimji “looks as if she sorted her holiday snaps into two piles and threw away the good ones by mistake”, and Mike Nelson “deserves a Blue Peter badge, but not the Turner Prize”.
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