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.
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, working around the central themes of authorship, authenticity and identity, 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. The reference to Warhol is again apparent in his Faces (2004) portfolio. Turk unashamedly copies the techniques of the American artist who, in the 1980s, created a similar print of his rival, German artist Joseph Beuys, as a way to mock his credibility. The set of six images, shown here, appear to be that of Elvis Presley, Che Guevera and Joseph Beuys but upon closer inspection (and with clues such as the play on words in the titles such as Gavara Reversed) it is actually Turk himself made up to look like the iconic images, again questioning the notion of identity.
Turk’s work was included in the influential Sensation exhibition in 1997 at the Royal Academy of Arts London. His work has been included in many group and solo exhibitions including the White .
Made in Britain Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection 1980-2010,China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing Corporation 2010. ISBN 978-7-5059-7014-4.