2019 Turner Prize Shortlist – Artists Foreground ‘Marginalized Voices’; Criticism Over Anti-Gay Rights Sponsor Chairman

This year’s nominees are Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani

Tai Shani, DC Semiramis, 2018 Glasgow, Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Keith Hunter

Tai Shani, DC Semiramis, 2018 Glasgow, Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Keith Hunter

The four nominees for the 2019 Turner Prize were announced by Tate Britain this morning: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani. 

The shortlisted artists seek ‘to foreground the voices of those who have been marginalized by historical accounts,’ Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson commented at the press conference. He also added that ‘all of them to some degree have an aspect of performance in their work’ and reflect ‘the diversity of work being made in this country.’ 

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, born in 1985 in Amman, Jordan is an artist-investigator who makes work concerned with ‘the politics of listening’ and the role of sound and voice in relation to law and human rights. He has been nominated for his solo exhibition ‘Earwitness Theatre’ at Chisenhale, London, which showcased an installation of 95 objects which had been designed ‘to create the sound effects of contested sonic evidence in multiple legal trials.’ He was also nominated for video installation Walled Unwalled and performance After SFX at Tate Modern, London, both of which developed out of interviews the artist conducted with former detainees of a Syrian prison as part of an audio investigation with Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture. ‘Abu Hamdan’s activities take freely from the traditions of investigative journalism, human-rights campaigns and conceptual art,’ writes Ben Mauk in a 2018 feature on his recent works.

Helen Cammock, born in 1970, in Staffordshire, UK, works across various mediums including film, photography, print, text and performance in an attempt to uncover ‘marginalized voices within history’ and question ‘who speaks on behalf of whom and on what terms.’ Cammock, who won the 2018 Max Mara Art Prize for Women, has been nominated for her solo exhibition ‘The Long Note’ at Void Gallery, Derry. The exhibition presented a film of the same name, which combined newly produced footage, a series of interviews, alongside archival footage exploring the history of women in the civil rights movement in Derry in 1968. ‘I'm interested in the voice as author, as witness, as conduit, as ventriloquist. I'm interested in the notion of both individual and collective voice, and the role of the individual in resistance and challenge,’ says Cammock in an interview with frieze.

Oscar Murillo, born in 1986, in La Paila, Colombia, is best known for his multidisciplinary practice which includes live events, drawing, sculpture, painting, video and collaborative projects. His practice centres around process and labour in addition to issues ‘of migration, community, exchange and trade in today’s globalised world.’ He has been nominated for ‘Violent Amnesia’ at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, ’Oscar Murillo/Zhang Enli’ at Shangai’s chi K11 art museum. He has also been nominated for his participation in the 10th Berlin Biennale which included an installation of industrial ovens that produced sculptures made of corn mixed with clay, presented alongside stuffed cloth torsos ‘printed with workers’ slogans and international trade routes.’ 

Tai Shani, born in 1976, in London, UK, is a self-taught London-based artist who uses performance, film, photography, sculptural installations and experimental texts to explore ‘disparate histories’ and ‘forgotten stories.’ She has been nominated for her participation in Glasgow International 2018, her solo show ‘DC: Semiramis’ at The Tetley, Leeds, and her participation in ‘Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance’ at Nottingham Contemporary and the De Le Warr Pavillion, Bexhill-on-Sea. These shows are based in and around her on-going project Dark Continent which takes inspiration from Christine de Pizan’s 1405 The Book of the City of Ladies and explores ‘feminine’ subjectivity and experience through a ‘gothic/science-fiction lens.’

An exhibition of the shortlisted artists will be held at Turner Contemporary in Margate from 28 September 2019 until 12 January 2020.  The announcement of the winner will be broadcast live by the BBC on 3 December. 

The Turner Prize, founded in 1984, awards a British artist for an outstanding presentation of work within the past year. A cash prize of GBP£25,000 is given to the winner, while GBP£5,000 is awarded to the shortlisted artists.

During the press announcement of the 2019 shortlist, The Tate and Turner Contemporary were questioned about the main sponsor of this year’s prize, the bus and train company Stagecoach South East, whose founder Brian Souter, reportedly funded a campaign which fought to keep Section 28 (banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools) in law in Scotland. In a statement, Stagecoach said that it did ‘not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind based on disability, gender, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, religion, belief, age, nationality, race or ethnic origin.’

Charlotte Prodger was the winner of the 2018 Turner Prize in a shortlist that focused heavily on moving image, the power of documentary and tackled ‘the most pressing political and humanitarian issues of today’. Prodger, who will be representing Scotland at the 58th International Venice Biennale, was shortlisted alongside Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Luke Willis Thompson.

The jury for the 2019 prize was comprised of Director of London’s Gasworks and Triangle Network Alessio Antoniolli, Director of Showroom Gallery, London, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Director of Turner Contemporary, Margate, Victoria Pomery, writer Charlie Porter and London’s Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson. 

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

September 2019

frieze magazine

October 2019

frieze magazine

November - December 2019