Gavin Turk was born in 1967 in Guildford, England. He attended the Royal College of Art between 1989 and 1991 and currently lives and works in London. Turk has exhibited widely both in Britain and internationally, with recent solo exhibitions including: Freud Museum, London, 2015; New Art Centre Sculpture Park & Gallery Roche Court, 2014; Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul, 2010 and Tate Britain, London 2002. Turk’s work was included in the influential Sensation exhibition in 1997 at the Royal Academy of Arts London.
Gavin Turk (1967 – )
Turk’s installations and sculptures deal with issues of authorship, authenticity and identity. They are often concerned with the ‘myth’ of the artist and the ‘authorship’ of a work and frequently use ready-made items referring to a tradition stretching back Marcel Duchamp.
Cave (1995) is a reworked replication of a piece that caused Turk to fail his Masters at the Royal College of Art. As part of his degree show presentation, he simply presented an empty studio space with just a blue imitation English Heritage plaque hanging on the wall. The plaque bore the words ‘Borough of Kensington GAVIN TURK Sculptor Worked Here 1989-1991’. These plaques are usually found on the exteriors of buildings to commemorate once famous inhabitants. Conditions of being awarded this plaque are, amongst other criteria, that you must have been dead for at least twenty years and “have made an important contribution to human welfare or happiness.” By presenting the plaque, Turk attempted to validate his future importance to society before his career had even begun. By turning his studio into an installation space he also changed the way that the space was perceived, the plaque giving it an apparent air of significance. The Final Examination Board decided that Turk had 'displayed insufficient work of the standard required for Final Examination' and so, following re-examination, refused to award him an MA certificate.
Upon leaving college Turk continued his career in a similar vein often casting himself as the main subject of his work. An example of this can be found in one of Turk’s most well-known works Pop (1993), where the artist adopts the identity of young punk icon Sid Vicious as a life-size waxwork singing 'My Way' in the pose of Elvis Presley, as once depicted by Andy Warhol.