Britain's Turner Prize shortlist dominated by art collectives


A view of art gallery Tate Britain in London, which organises the Turner Prize award. Photo: Handout

The 2021 Turner Prize jury has selected a shortlist made entirely from artist collectives for the first time, Tate Britain, which organises the award, announced on Friday.

The five groups all "work closely and continuously with communities across the breadth of the UK", the organisers of the prestigious but often controversial visual arts prize said.

"The collaborative practices selected for this year's shortlist also reflect the solidarity and community demonstrated in response to the pandemic," they added.

The shortlist is comprised of Array Collective, a group of Belfast-based artists; Black Obsidian Sound System, a London-based collective of radical art activists; Cooking Sections, a London duo creating food-inspired art installations; Gentle/Radical, a Welsh collective using art for social change; and Project Art Works based in the south of England.

"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, who chairs the Turner Prize jury.

"We pride ourselves on our socially engaged programme, rooted in and relevant to our local communities - something echoed by the practice of each collective."

Works by the nominees will be displayed at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry, central England, from Sept 29 to Jan 12 next year.

Coventry is currently UK City of Culture.

The winner will be announced on Dec 1 at a televised award ceremony in the city.

"We are incredibly excited to work with the five collectives to present their work at the Herbert as part of UK City of Culture 2021," said the cultural and creative director of Culture Coventry, Francis Nielsen.

"This selection of artists and the timing of this Turner Prize presents us with the opportunity to do something truly exceptional."

Established in 1984, the prize is named after the great British land and seascape painter JMW Turner and is designed to promote public interest in contemporary art.

The winner is awarded £25,000 (RM143,000) with £10,000 (RM57,000) going to each of the others shortlisted.

After last year's Turner Prize was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers split the total prize money among 10 nominees.

Over the years, it has courted headlines because of installations including an unmade bed and works made from elephant dung and human hair.

In 2019, the four shortlisted artists sent a plea to judges to award the prize to them all jointly, explaining they had formed a collective to show solidarity at a time of global "political crisis", including Brexit. - AFP

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