Tate Britain has announced another update to its esteemed Turner Prize, which has undergone changes over the past two years and is considered the most prestigious art award in the United Kingdom.
Typically, the museum shortlists four individual artists. This year, it has instead shortlisted five artist collectives: Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical, and Project Art Works.
As part of the Turner Prize, each nominated collective will present work in a joint exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry from September 29 , 2021, to January 12, 2022. The winning collective, which will be named on December 1, will receive £25,000 (about $35,000), and the other shortlisted groups will each get £10,000 ($14,000).
“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,” Alex Farquharson, Tate Britain’s director and Turner Prize jury chair, said 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.”
Array Collective is a Belfast-based group whose practice extends from exhibitions to performance and protests dealing with issues affecting Northern Ireland. London-based Black Obsidian Sound System creates club nights, art installations, workshops, and more to explore “sound-system culture across the African diaspora,” according to a release. Cooking Sections, also based in London, looks at the intersections of art with food, ecology, geopolitics, and architecture.
Gentle/Radical is a coalition made up artists, community workers, performers, faith practitioners, writers, and others who look to create space for community in Cardiff and throughout Wales. Project Art Works, based in Hastings, is made up of neurodiverse artists whose art is made with, for, and by neurominorities.
In addition to Farquharson, the jury for the 2021 Turner Prize includes Aaron Cezar, director of the Delfina Foundation in London; Kim McAleese, program director at Grand Union in Birmingham; actor Russell Tovey; and Chisenhale Gallery director Zoé Whitley.
Since the Turner Prize’s inception in 1984, just a handful of collectives have been nominated. They include Art & Language in 1986, the Otolith Group in 2010, Forensic Architecture in 2018, and Assemble in 2015, which is, to date, the only collective to have won the Turner Prize.
In 2019, the four shortlisted artists—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani—sent the jury members a letter asking them not to select a single winner. “We feel strongly motivated to use the occasion of the Prize to make a collective statement in the name of commonality, multiplicity and solidarity—in art as in society,” they wrote at the time. The jury accepted their wishes. The 2020 prize was canceled because of the pandemic; instead, Tate distributed “one-off bursaries” of £10,000 ($12,500 at the time) to ten artists.