Socially-engaged artist collectives fill out this year’s Turner Prize shortlist


Socially-engaged artist collectives fill out this year’s Turner Prize shortlist

The five artist collectives shortlisted for the 2021 Turner Prize will participate in an exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. Seen in the background is the spire of Coventry Cathedral, where the December prize ceremony will be held. (Courtesy Tate)

The shortlist for the 2021 Tate-organized Turner Prize, the most prestigious and widely publicized (often not without considerable controversy) visual art award in the United Kingdom, has been announced. For the first time in the 37-year history of the prize, the shortlist is comprised entirely of artist collectives. Per the Tate, each of the five collaborative practices “work closely and continuously with communities across the breadth of the UK to inspire social change through art” while also reflecting “the solidarity and community demonstrated in response to the pandemic.”

Each finalist will receive an approximately $14,100 (£10,000) prize with the eventual winner, set to be announced December 1 during a televised ceremony held at Coventry Cathedral, awarded with $35,350 (£25,000).

Of the fiveTurner Prize-shortlisted collectives, one hails from Northern Ireland, one from Wales, and three from England: The Belfast-based Array Collective, London’s Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.), Cardiff’s Gentle/Radical project, Hastings-based Project Art Works, and Cooking Sections, a London-based duo co-founded by 2020 Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize winner, Daniel Fernández Pascual.

Work by the shortlisted collectives will be exhibited at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry, the West Midland region of England’s Lady Godiva-famous second-largest city. The exhibition will run from September 29 through January 12, 2022, as part of the UK City of Culture festivities. Coventry won the title in 2017 for the quadrennial UK City of Culture award, beating out Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, and Sunderland.

“One of the great joys of the Turner Prize is the way it captures and reflects the mood of the moment in contemporary British art,” said Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson in a statement. “After a year of lockdowns when very few artists have been able to exhibit publicly, the jury has selected five outstanding collectives whose work has not only continued through the pandemic but become even more relevant as a result.”

Members of this year’s Turner Prize jury are: Aaron Cezar, director of the Delfina Foundation; Kim McAleese, program director at Grand Union; Zoé Whitley, director of Chisenhale Gallery, and actor Russell Tovey. Serving as jury chair is Farquharson.

Last year, the Turner Prize scrapped its normal format due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and instead dispensed monetary awards to a total of ten artists-in-need: Oreet Ashery, Liz Johnson Artur, Shawanda Corbett, Jamie Crewe, Sean Edwards, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Ima-Abasi Okon, Imran Perretta, and Alberta Whittle. The 2019 Turner Prize also lacked a “winner,” as the four shortlisted artists—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani—requested to be considered by the jury as a single group and split the £40,000 ($56,500 in today’s funds) in total prize money. The year before that, the prize went to artist and filmmaker Charlotte Prodger, who was selected from a finalist pool of Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Luke Willis Thompson.

Earlier today, Tate announced that it will reopen all four of its galleries—Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives—to the public on May 17 with COVID-era safety precautions in place.