The artists who won this year’s Turner Prize got bad reviews of their success. Instead, praise is going to a fringe event for challenging art, the Turnip Prize, held each year in a pub at Wedmore in Somerset.
The idea for this fringe event comes from the Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte. Whenever he painted an object such as an apple, or even a turnip, he painted the fruit and then denied that the picture was not one of these things. In these “Ceci n’est pas” works, Magritte pointed out that no matter how naturalistically he depicted an object, he never caught the object itself. A similar principle was suggested by the philosopher Karl Popper to explain the way science works. Rather than confirm that something exists or is correct, he argued that science can only show that an idea is false.
Turnip prize entrants use puns when naming their work, so taking Magritte’s admission to an extreme limit. Here are some examples. The first image, below left, is of “Breast in Plant”; the others have labels.