The hyper-competitive circuit of awards and prizes in the visual arts is creating winners and losers, and fuelling inequalities. It's time for a rethink says Louise Benson.
We’re taught to be competitive from the day we’re born. Whether it’s a coveted place at the local nursery or plain old sibling rivalry, the pressure starts early. It’s not just pushy parents driving the incessant race to the top. The very basis of our society is rooted in the principle of competition, whereby market forces determine the value and success of almost everything around us.
From school exams to job interviews, time and time again we are pitted against our peers and graded accordingly. Looking back on my school days, I can see the many unspoken hierarchies and feuds that animated our interactions in lessons and in the playground. It’s hardly surprising that popular culture is riddled with competitions, from gameshows to award ceremonies, and these inevitably shape the ways in which we assess both others and ourselves.
A competitive nature is often confused with ambition, but the two couldn’t be more different... Keep reading on Elephant