Turner Prize 2014: award goes to 'ambitious yet baffling' film

Irish artist Duncan Campbell wins with his powerful and complex film – but not all critics are convinced

 Woman views a video by Duncan Campbell entitled Sigmar 2008 during 2014 Turner Prize press preview
(Image credit: CARL COURT/AFP/Getty)

Dublin-born artist Duncan Campbell has won this year's Turner Prize for his "topical and compelling" film that combines African art, Marxist theory and iconic photographs from the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The 42-year old artist was the most well-known out of the four shortlisted artists and the bookies favourite, so his win was "by no means a surprise", writes The Guardian's art correspondent Mark Brown.

His 54 minutes film, "It for Others", was described by the judges as "an ambitious and complex film which rewards repeated viewing". He was commended for his mix of archive footage and new material which "challenges the documentary form".

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The Daily Telegraph's arts editor Anita Singh described his film "a montage of Marxist economics, contemporary dance, comedy ketchup bottles, African tribal masks and images of the IRA member Joe McCann".

Penelope Curtis, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the jury admitted she did not entirely understand his work, describing it as "a bit baffling".

"It's a mysterious work, I think, and he uses lots of devices to keep you watching and to make your wonder, 'what does it mean?' It has clarity and also quite a lot of ambiguity and that's quite odd," she said.

Campbell said he would use the £25,000 prize money for modest day-to-day necessities such as rent, food and studio space. "This money will make a huge difference," he said.

Not everyone was as impressed with his work, with the Guardian's chief art critic Adrian Searle calling the film "more like a lecture than artwork". Although he acknowledges that Campbell has produced the "most consistently interesting" body of work out of the shortlisted artists, the film "is overlong, over-complicated and with a voice-over so didactic in tone it easily alienates viewers," writes Searle.

Overall, this year's Turner shortlist has underwhelmed much of the art world, with The Spectator's Digby Warde-Aldam describing it as "the worst shortlist in the award's history".

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