Above image: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, documentation of live performance After SFX, 2018.
From London to Beirut and Colombia, this year’s shortlist of Turner Prize nominees is a typically global collection of young talent vying for the most prestigious prize in art. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani will make up this year’s competition, with the winner set to be announced on 3rd December 2019 at an award ceremony televised live on the BBC.
Following Charlotte Prodger’s triumph last year in what was a memorable shortlist not least for being made up exclusively of moving image, this year sees greater variation in works that have been selected to go on show at the Turner Contemporary in Margate from 28th September until January 2020.
Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan utilises sound as a means of investigating crime. Often using sound installation, his work contests processes of reconstruction and the complexity of memory as well as questioning the UK’s controversial use of voice analysis to determine the origins and authenticity of asylum seekers’ accents. His recent exhibition, Earwitness Inventory at Chisenhale, drew on Hamdan’s library of 95 personally sourced objects (including pinecones, cannelloni pasta and unwound videotape) all derived from legal cases in which sonic evidence is contested.
Winner of the 2018 Max Mara Prize for Women Helen Cammock takes a holistic approach to her work, utilising everything from film, photography, writing, poetry, spoken word, song, print-making and installation to tell social histories. Her 2016 film There’s a Hole in the Sky Part II; Listening to James Baldwin was a continuation of a previous project that looked at crumbling vestiges of colonialism in Barbados. The work imagines a conversation with the legendary author to consider the forced and voluntary migrations of Black American writers and dancers who travelled to Europe in search of prosperity.
Colombian artist Oscar Murillo is known for his investigations into dislocation and the social fallout of globalisation as well as his large-scale banner paintings that often incorporate recycled materials. His solo show Violent Amnesia, shown at Kettles Yard, saw Murillo present a huge canvas he’d been working on for the best part of four years. The painting incorporated several of Murillo’s recurring interests, among which birds and air-travel stand out for their poignant connections to migration. Murillo provides interesting food for thought on air travel, considering it, “not just a means of travel but a sacred ‘other’ space, the aeroplane seat itself becoming a unique ‘studio’ at a remove, a non-place which is both physically confined and freed from being in any real geographical location.” Remember that next time you’re trapped between screaming babies and incessant snorers.
Finally, Tai Shani’s recent exhibition Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance at Nottingham Contemporary saw the artist seamlessly align historical text with contemporary thought. Using a 15th century feminist text as her foundation (Christine de Pizan’s, The Book of the City of Ladies), Shani utilised a combination of theatrical installation, performance and film to re-create a fictitious city populated solely by women and fantastical characters.
With a prize of £25,000 to the winner and £5,000 for the other shortlisted artists, the competition will be decided by a jury made up of 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.