The 2021 Turner Award nominees, for the first time, are made up of groups that have helped “promote social change through art”, organizers said.
Exhibitions were closed heavily last year due to the pandemic.
The chairman of the award and director of Tate Britain Alex Farquharson said it was intended to capture and reflect the sentiments of the time in contemporary British art.
Art Collectives In Lockdown
“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,” he said in a statement.
Efforts – by Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS), Cooking Sections, Gentle / Radical and Project Arts Works – have included a work of art supporting legal change in Northern Ireland, a 24-hour fundraising rave for queer, trans and intersex black and people of colour, and the use of food to help understand the workings of the world. As well as a lockdown doorstep neighbourhood story-telling campaign and work by a group of neurodiverse artists.
Last year’s Turner Prize award was not made at all due to the effects of coronavirus and was replaced by a bag of money for struggling artists.
In 2019, the award was divided into four categories at the request of nominees.
The final joint winners, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Tai Shani and Oscar Murillo, said they wanted to make a “collective statement” at a time when “there is already a lot of divisions and isolation between people and communities” – a nod to the fall-out from the Brexit referendum.
This year is the first time that a Turner Prize judge has selected a shortlist that fully includes the artists included, with the judges saying they have all shown “solidarity” with various communities in the UK during the difficult 12 months.
Array Collective is a group of Belfast-based artists whose work deals with issues affecting Northern Ireland.
Their work includes performances, protests, exhibitions and events.
Assistant judges praised the way in which “it combines seriousness with humor, and it also addresses modern issues using the old image of people”.
Recent projects have included public artworks in support of the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland, challenging legislative discrimination of the queer community, and participation in the group exhibition Jerwood Collaborate! in London.
Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S)
The capital of England is where the Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS) is based, and it operates in a wide range of arts, sounds and radical activism works.
Designed for QTIBPOC, the group aims to challenge the visual culture of audio programming in all African communities in London – via club night, art installation, technical workshops and film recording nightlife QTIBPOC.
The judges praised their live performances – performing at Somerset House – and their “community dedication”, including a 24-hour online fundraising event.
Over in Cardiff, Gentle / Radical – made up of artists, community workers, musicians, religious artists, writers and others – praised art as a tool for social change.
They create real and digital spaces for Wales communities to engage with the culture, such as creating an emerging cinema space featuring independent films.
Their ongoing Doorstep Revolution has helped people share their neighborhood stories during the lockout.
Assistant judges praised their “deep commitment” to the local Riverside community.
Project Art Works
Finally, Project Art Works has assembled artists and neurodiverse artists based in Hastings.
The exhibition for all five nominees for the Turner Prize will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry from 29 September to 12 January 2022, as part of the UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations.
The winner will be announced on December 1st.