strength in numbers
Above image: Cooking Sections artists portrait, photo Ruth Clark
Times of hardship breed strength in unity. Fitting therefore that this year’s Turner Prize should be contested exclusively between artist collectives, a first in the prize’s illustrious 40 year history. This year’s newly unveiled shortlist includes Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical, and Project Art Works, with the winner announced in December this year.
From across the UK: Belfast, London, Cardiff and Hastings, the shortlisted collectives share a commitment to community involvement and multidisciplinary practices. From public works addressing the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland to club nights exploring sound-system culture across the African diaspora, revelatory installations on food production and locally-centred projects that celebrate the life-affirming potential of community, this is a Turner Prize like no other.
“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,” says Tate Britain director and chair of the Turner Prize jury Alex Farquharson. “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.”
With an exhibition of the artists’ work set to open at Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery in September as part of this year’s City of Culture celebrations, this year’s Turner Prize has fantastic potential to stimulate community action in the city. As Francis Nielsen, cultural & creative director of culture Coventry, said: “We are incredibly excited to work with the five collectives to present their work at the Herbert as part of UK City of Culture 2021. We pride ourselves on our socially engaged programme, rooted in and relevant to our local communities – something echoed by the practice of each collective. This selection of artists and the timing of this Turner Prize presents us with the opportunity to do something truly exceptional.”
This year’s Turner Prize exhibition will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry from 29 September 2021 to 12 January 2022. The winner will be announced on 1 December 2021 at an award ceremony at Coventry Cathedral covered on the BBC.