2021 marks the first time the Turner Prize has only nominated art collectives instead of individual artists. Judge chair Alex Farquharson says that in a year when “very few artists have been able to exhibit their work 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.”
Here are this year’s nominees:
Array Collective are a group of artists based in Belfast. Their work is based around issues affecting Northern Ireland, which include themes such as the decriminalisation of abortion and discrimination against the queer community. These are presented through performances, protests, events and exhibitions. The jury commended the way they "fuse seriousness with humour, and address contemporary issues using ancient folk imagery".
Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) work across art, sound and activism. It was formed in 2018 by and for QTIBPOC (queer, trans and intersex black and people of colour) who aim to challenge the perceived norms of sound-system culture across African communities in London. Judges praised their live performances and "their commitment to community", including an online 24-hour fundraising rave.
Project Art Works are a collection of neurodiverse artists who explore art through collaborative practice with, for and by neurominorities - and their work appears in exhibitions, events, films and online. Judges commended their continuing work through the pandemic with passersby able to see examples through the windows of the closed Hastings Contemporary gallery.
Cooking Sections are a duo of food art activists. 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.
Gentle/Radical are made up of artists, community workers, performers, faith practitioners and writers. They advocate for art as a tool for social change through creating real and virtual spaces for communities in Wales to engage with culture, such as the creation of a pop-up cinema space showing independent films. The jury admired their "deep commitment" to the hyper-local community of their native Riverside.
Recognised as being the world’s best-known award for visual art, the Turner Prize was established in 1984 by a group called the Patrons of New Art. You can see a timeline of the Prize here. After being cancelled in 2020, this year the £25,000 award will be presented at Coventry Cathedral on 1 December and exhibited at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum from 29 September to 12 January as part of Coventry’s successful bid as City of Culture.