The picture

Glasgow artist CHRISTINE BORLAND is out to demolish a few myths in the wake of Damien Hirst. And if she wins the Turner Prize along the way, fine. Words: Susanna Beaumont

ODD AS IT might sound. Christine Borland has been likened to a Victorian pathologist. Not that it has particularly bothered her. Shortlisted for Britain‘s most rumour-stalked and media-flirtatious annual art award. the Turner Prize. Borland is wise to journalists‘ penchant for labelling.

That said. the 32-year-old Glasgow artist. who lives a stone‘s throw from her training ground Glasgow School of Art. wishes to make one thing clear. She doesn’t spend her days confined to a garret or even a lab. Borland wants to put the myth-makers right. Artists of the DH. generation (Damien Hirst that is) may have secured a hip profile. bttt Borland for one feels misconceptions about artists have a limpet-like tendency with the nation's collective imagination.

One hard fact is that Borland‘s nomination for the {220.000 Turner Prize reinforces Glasgow‘s status as home to some of Britain‘s hottest contemporary artists. Last year. Douglas Gordon. who lives around the corner from Borland. scooped the award.

Yet if anything marks out this year’s Turner Prize. it's the lack of high-decibel controversy.

Christine Borland: ‘Certainly the Turner hasn't done me any harm'

10 THE LIST 21 Nov—4 Dec 1997

Mutterings have come only from resisters of girl power. who have questioned the all- woman line up of Angela Bulloch. Cornelia Parker. Gillian Wearing and Borland.

‘lt gets a bit boring. the female thing. when the whole discussion is about that and not the work.‘ says Borland. ‘There is so much trivialisation. If it wasn't that. it would be something else.‘ But what's with the Victorian pathologist label? ‘lt plays the science card too heavily.‘ says Borland of Time Our‘s sobriquet. ‘I make art and make up the rules as I am going along.‘

Borland‘s conceptual work delicately probes the way moral codes. often endorsed by revered institutions. govern attitudes to the body and human life. Last year Borland vis- ited Edinburgh‘s Royal College of Physicians where she came across some 18th century

‘I make art and make up the rules as I am going along.’ Christine Borland

medical aids: two leather dolls structured by foetal skeletons. For her. they were incredible objects.

"l‘he intriguing thing for me was the horror and moral dilemma that they were kind of real foetuses.’ says Borland. who made replicas of the dolls for the Turner show at l..ondon‘s Tate Gallery.

It is this tension between the march of science and ethics that interests Borland: people ‘playing God‘ at the expense of others' dignity. In a limited edition CD commissioned to launch the Modern Institute Scotland‘s new art agency to promote work by contemporary artists Borland makes art meet .'I Bonk Ar Ber/1mm. She has recorded a pre- pubescent boy reading a passage from Mary Shelley's classic tale l’ran/t'wrsrein in which the monster rcmonstratcs about his man-made ugliness to his maker.

‘II is very much to do with the awakening of the monster. the moral dilemmas of dealing with the meaning of betrayal. hurt and anger.’ says Borland.

If all this like sounds earnest wanderings in the moral maze. Borland makes no apologies. She deals in subjects that come pre-wrapped with emotivity. and don't require visual or oral soundbites. Shock tactics that deal in knee- jerk reactions are not her style.

‘My work has a very personal starting point and that is the only way it can be.‘ says Borland. But what of the glam. glitzy Turner Prize which will be announced live on Channel l’our by Minister Of Culture. (‘hris Smith'.’

‘Ccrtainly the Turner hasn‘t done me any harm.‘ admits Borland. ‘but ultimately it is dangerous to associate yourself with anything too much.‘

Whatever way the vote goes on the big night. she has already etched her name on the international art scene.

The Turner Prize is announced live on Channel 4, 9pm, Tue 2 Dec. The Turner Prize exhibition is at the Tate Gallery, London until 18 Jan. The Transmission Gallery, Glasgow is showing Channel 4's film about the shortlisted artists from Tue 18—Sat 22 Nov. The gallery hosts a discussion on the Turner Prize, Sat 22 Nov, 3pm. For details call Transmission on 0141 552 4813. See Art listings.