5 Dec 2011

Turner Prize 2011: Karla Black

Fascinated with psychological vulnerability, Karla Black’s innovative sculptural installations are rooted in feminism and combine traditional art-making with modern materials, writes Matthew Cain.

Turner Prize 2011: Karla Black

Karla Black was born in Alexandria, Scotland, in 1972. She studied at Glasgow School of Art and continues to live and work in Glasgow.

She’s been nominated for the Turner Prize 2011 for her solo show at Galerie Capitain Petzel, Berlin, and for contributions to various group exhibitions.

Black creates large-scale installations from a combination of traditional art-making materials and others drawn from the everyday environment such as make-up and toiletries.

The result is that you feel drawn in to touch the work, yet at the same time have to contain this impulse as the work is so obviously breakable.

There is also an interesting tension between the fragility of the work and its often mammoth scale – the main piece in this show is so huge it looks like it has been squeezed into the room.

Even on the evidence of the few pieces of work here alone, Black is a unique creative voice whose work intrigues and is instantly recognisable.

George Shaw Hilary Lloyd Martin Boyce Karla Black

She has talked about how heavily her work is rooted in feminism and its impact on the visual arts, primarily in its questioning of conventions of practice and interpretation.

Black has also been influenced by psychoanalysis. She said: “While there are ideas about psychological and emotional developmental processes held within the sculptures I make, the things themselves are actual physical explorations into thinking, feeling, communicating and relating'”.

Her stated aim is to thwart any possibility of formal resolution. Although paradoxically, her work is essentially sculptural – and its spatial command is undeniably authoritative.