Helen Marten: an artist who thinks differently from the rest of us

By Adrian Searle

Marten’s playful and inventive way with language and things won the Turner Prize over Andrea Hamilton’s implausible work; while Michael Dean’s installation was a pile-up of too many elements

The first time I saw Helen Marten’s work at Chisenhale Gallery in 2013, I knew I was in the presence of an artist who thinks differently from the rest of us. Out of the artists in this year’s Turner prize, she was the one I wanted to win, although the exhibition as a whole felt a great deal livelier than recent years.

The first half of Anthea Hamilton’s installation, with its giant set of buttocks, brick wallpaper and brick pattern Jacquard suit was certainly arresting, though the whole thing disintegrated a bit in its second half. I never did get to the bottom of her implausible chastity belts (though I got the bottom itself, soon enough). I felt a bit of a mismatch between Josephine Pryde’s photographs and the model train stalled on its tracks in the middle of the gallery. This wasn’t going anywhere. This, I believe, was a symbol for a stalled, post-Brexit Britain, sidelined and run out of steam, while people in her photographs kept their cool and checked their phones for news from elsewhere.

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