It was announced yesterday that the Turner Prize 2019, presented in partnership with Tate and Turner Contemporary, has been awarded to a collective bringing together the four nominated artists: Abu Hamdan/Cammock/Murillo/Shani. The prize was presented by Edward Enninful, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, at a ceremony broadcast live on the BBC from Dreamland in Margate.
The four nominees – Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani – came together to request that the jury consider awarding the Prize to them as a collective. In recognition of these artists’ shared commitment to urgent social and political causes, the jury unanimously decided to honour that request.
In a joint letter to the jury, the artists said: ‘At this time of political crisis in Britain and much of the world, when there is already so much that divides and isolates people and communities, 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.’
The jury praised the artists for their commitment to the collective power of art. They noted that this unique and timely act of solidarity encapsulates the very reasons for which these four artists were nominated in the first place, as demonstrated in the works they exhibited at Turner Contemporary.
The jury said: “At our meeting today, we were presented with the letter from the artists and unanimously took the decision to agree to their request. We are honoured to be supporting this bold statement of solidarity and collaboration in these divided times. Their symbolic act reflects the political and social poetics that we admire and value in their work.”
Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner Prize jury, said: “In coming together and presenting themselves as a group, this year’s nominated artists certainly gave the jury a lot to think about. But it is very much in the spirit of these artists’ work to challenge convention, to resist polarised world views, and to champion other voices. The jury all felt that this made the collective a worthy winner of the Turner Prize.”
One of the best-known prizes for the visual arts in the world, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. Established in 1984, the prize is named after JMW Turner (1775-1851) and is awarded to an artist born or based in the UK for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the past twelve months.
The 2019 edition of Turner Prize is the first time that the venue for the exhibition, outside of London, has had a direct connection with JMW Turner. Turner Contemporary stands on the site of the artist’s lodging house and enjoys views of the skies that Turner felt were ‘the loveliest in all Europe’.
The members of the Turner Prize 2019 jury are Alessio Antoniolli, Director, Gasworks & Triangle Network; Elvira Dyangani Ose, Director of The Showroom Gallery and Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths; Victoria Pomery, Director, Turner Contemporary, Margate and Charlie Porter, writer. The jury is chaired by Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain. Next year the prize will return to Tate Britain.
Turner Contemporary is working with partners across Kent to make Turner Prize 2019 an unforgettable moment for audiences from Margate, Kent and beyond. The exhibition of the four shortlisted artists at Turner Contemporary has already been seen by almost 100,000 visitors, making it one of the most popular Turner Prize shows outside London. The exhibition, curated by Rowan Geddis and Fiona Parry, continues until Sunday 12 January 2020. Entry is free.
Turner Contemporary is a charity, receiving public funding from Kent County Council and Arts Council England. Turner Prize 2019 is supported by AKO Foundation, Eurotunnel, BNP Paribas, Southeastern, Canterbury Christ Church University, Lord Browne of Madingley and Lance Uggla, with additional funding from Kent County Council.
The artists’ letter to the jury:
We are writing to you as the Turner Prize Nominees 2019.
After a number of discussions, we have come to a collective view that we would like to be considered together for this year’s award. We are therefore writing to request that you as the jury might consider awarding the Prize to the four of us collectively and not to any of us individually. We hope that you will both understand and honour the position we have arrived at.
This year you have selected a group of artists who, perhaps more than ever before in the Prize’s history, are all engaged in forms of social or participatory practice. More specifically, each of us makes art about social and political issues and contexts we believe are of great importance and urgency. The politics we deal with differ greatly, and for us it would feel problematic if they were pitted against each other, with the implication that one was more important, significant or more worthy of attention than the others.
None of us had met each other prior to the Turner Prize, however on our initial meeting in Margate, we quickly recognised the underlying shared ethos that runs across our otherwise very different practices. At this time of political crisis in Britain and much of the world, when there is already so much that divides and isolates people and communities, 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.
We hope you will find you can honour the position we have taken and award the Prize this year to the four of us collectively.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani
The Turner Prize 2019 nominations:
LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN (34)
For his solo exhibition Earwitness Theatre at Chisenhale, video installation Walled Unwalled and performance After SFX at Tate Modern, London. Self-proclaimed ‘private ear’, Abu Hamdan’s work investigates crimes that have been heard and not seen; exploring the processes of reconstruction, the complexity of memory and language as well as the urgency of human rights and advocacy. The jury was struck by Abu Hamdan’s exploration of sound as an architectural element and the way he recreates particular situations through sound and performance.
HELEN CAMMOCK (49)
For her solo exhibition The Long Note at Void, Derry Londonderry and IMMA, Dublin. The jury praised the timely and urgent quality of Cammock’s work which explores social histories through film, photography, print, text and performance. Creating layered narratives that allow for the cyclical nature of history to be revealed, The Long Note looks at the history and the role of women in the civil rights movement in Derry Londonderry. The work highlights how the complexities of the politics of Northern Ireland have overshadowed the social history of the region and the variety of political positions taken by women during that time.
OSCAR MURILLO (33)
For his participation in the 10th Berlin Biennale, his solo exhibition Violent Amnesia at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and solo exhibition at the chi K11 art museum Shanghai. The jury particularly praised the way Murillo pushes the boundaries of materials, particularly in his paintings. His work incorporates a variety of techniques and media including painting, drawing, performance, sculpture and sound, often using recycled materials and fragments from his studio. Murillo’s work reflects on his own experience of displacement and the social fallout of globalisation.
TAI SHANI (43)
For her participation in Glasgow International 2018, solo exhibition DC: Semiramis at The Tetley, Leeds and participation in Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance at Nottingham Contemporary and the De Le Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea. The jury noted the compelling nature of Shani’s ongoing project Dark Continent, particularly the work’s ability to combine historical texts with contemporary references and issues. Developed over four years, it takes inspiration from a 15th century feminist text, Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies. Shani uses theatrical installations, performances and films to create her own allegorical city of women populated by fantastical characters, transporting the viewer to another time and place.