Turner Prize honours art collectives who 'inspire change'

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image copyrightLaura O'Connor/Project Art works
image captionThe Array Collective at Pride 2019 (left) and Project Art Works' Siddharth Gadiyar at the Phoenix Art Space

The 2021 Turner Prize nominees are, for the first time, made up of collectives who have helped to "inspire social change through art", organisers say.

Exhibitions have been largely closed over the past year due to the pandemic.

With that in mind, Friday's shortlist contained the names of five groups who continued to work in the community.

Prize chair and Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson said it is intended to capture and reflect the mood of the moment in contemporary British art.

'Even more relevant'

"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.

The efforts - by Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.), Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical and Project Arts Works - have included artwork in support of law changes 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 didn't happen at all due to the effects of coronavirus and it was instead replaced by a fund for struggling artists.

In 2019, the prize pot was split four ways at the nominees' request.

Eventual 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 was "already so much that divides and isolates people and communities" - a nod to the fall-out from the Brexit referendum.

This year is the first time a Turner Prize jury has selected a shortlist comprising entirely of artist collectives, who the judges say have all showed "solidarity" with various communities across the UK during a difficult 12 months.

This year's nominees

image copyrightAlessia Cargenelli
image captionArray Collective on International Women's Day in 2019

Array Collective are a group of Belfast-based artists whose work tackles issues affecting Northern Ireland.

Their work encompasses performances, protests, exhibitions and events.

The jury commended the way it "fuses seriousness with humour, and addresses contemporary issues using ancient folk imagery".

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.

image copyrightTheodorah Ndovlu
image captionA portrait of B.O.S.S. artists

The English capital is where Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) are based, and they work across art, sound and radical activism.

Formed by and for QTIBPOC (queer, trans and intersex black and people of colour), the group aims to challenge the perceived norms of sound-system culture across African communities In London - through club nights, art installations, technical workshops and a film documenting QTIBPOC nightlife.

Judges praised their live performances - they've put on events at Somerset House - and "their commitment to community", including an online 24-hour fundraising rave.

image copyrightRuth Clark
image captionA portrait of the Cooking Sections artists

Cooking Sections are the other London-based nominees and they examine the systems that organise the world through food.

Using installation, performance and video, they explore the overlapping boundaries between art, architecture, ecology and geopolitics.

Turner Prize officials applauded the ingenuity of their long-term CLIMAVORE project, which asks questions about how our diet can respond to the climate emergency.

The duo put on a sound, light and sculpture installation at Tate Britain last year, reflecting on salmon farming, as well as an ongoing installation-performance on the Isle of Skye which sees an underwater oyster table turn into a community dining space at low tide.

image copyrightGentle/Radical
image captionGentle/Radical's Doorstep Revolution

Over in the Cardiff, Gentle/Radical - made up of artists, community workers, performers, faith practitioners, writers and others - are advocating for art as a tool for social change.

They create real and virtual spaces for communities in Wales to engage with culture, such as the creation a pop-up cinema space showing independent films.

Their ongoing Doorstep Revolution helped people to share neighbourhood stories during lockdown.

The jury admired their "deep commitment" to the hyper-local community of their native Riverside.

image copyrightProject Art Works
image captionIlluminating the Wilderness found Project Art Works on location in Glen Affric, Scotland

Last but not least, Project Art Works are a collective of neurodiverse artists and makers based in Hastings.

Neurodiversity is defined as autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behaviour.

They explore art through collaborative practice with, for and by neurominorities - and their work appears in exhibitions, events, films and online.

Their recent film, Illuminating the Wilderness, followed members of the collective and their families and carers exploring a remote Scottish glen.

The jury praised their continuing work at Hastings Contemporary, where passers-by could continue to view work in lockdown by looking through the windows of the closed gallery.

An exhibition of all five Turner Prize nominees work will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry from 29 September until 12 January 2022, as part of the UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations.

The winner will be announced on 1 December.

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