I won’t blow my own trumpet too much, since it was fairly obvious that Duncan Campbell was going to win this year’s Turner Prize when I reviewed the Tate’s annual art prize exhibition when it opened in October. Still, it’s nice to be right, even though I always forget to make a bet on the winner. (Campbell was a 7-4 favorite with the bookmakers, in case you’re wondering.) The 42-year-old Dublin-born filmmaker has long been a big favorite of mine, for his hypnotic, densely-researched videos, which delve into the shadowy corners of British political history, resurrecting figures long forgotten, such as the American car entrepreneur John DeLorean, or the Irish republican activist Bernadette Devlin – individuals whose unusual passage through key moments in time are unearthed by Campbell’s deft reassembly of the traces they leave behind in the often crumbling audiovisual archives of the broadcast media.
So, for me, Campbell deserves his win. Which isn’t to say that his massive, 54-minute-long video presented at the Turner Prize exhibition, It for Others (2013), is the easiest piece of work to take on board.