ATurner prize nominee famous for blowing up a shed and putting Tilda Swinton in a glass cabinet for days has been chosen as the official artist of the General Election.
Cornelia Parker, who will be paid £17,000 of taxpayers’ money, plus expenses, is the first woman to be chosen.
The terms of the commission require her to “produce a unique work of art in response to her experience of the campaign”, which will be added to the Parliamentary Art Collection when complete.
Given her track record, however, finding a place to display her work in Parliament could prove tricky.
For one of her best-known works, Cold Dark Matter, she called in the Army to blow up a shed, then suspended the fragments and contents around a light source to recreate the explosion.
For another work, called Breathless, she flattened 54 brass band instruments using part of the mechanism of Tower Bridge, and for The Maybe in 1995 she set up a glass cabinet in which the actress Tilda Swinton slept for eight hours per day.
The 60-year-old, who is half German, also has a taste for the risque: when she appeared on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, she chose a “solar-powered vibrator” as her luxury item, and in 1997 she displayed a work called Pornographic Drawings, using ink she made from dissolving pornographic video tapes seized by HM Customs.
Commenting on her appointment, she said: “We live in scary but exhilarating times. The whole world order seems to be changing. As an artist, I feel honoured to have been invited to respond to such an important election.”
Parker was selected by a cross-party group of MPs on the parliamentary works of art committee, chaired by Alison McGovern, who said: “I am delighted that my Committee has chosen Cornelia Parker...she's the first woman artist to take on this role and it'll be really exciting to see how her ideas for this artwork develop over the campaign period.”