This year’s prestigious Turner Prize is to be shared by all four shortlisted artists after they formed a collective to show solidarity at a time of global “political crisis,” in a shock win announced on Tuesday evening.
Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Tai Shani were all named winners at a ceremony at the Turner Contemporary gallery in the seaside town of Margate, in southeast England.
The four — who had not met each other before being shortlisted — would split the ￡40,000 (US$52,174) prize money for one of the world’s most prestigious awards for visual and contemporary art.
British Vogue magazine editor Edward Enninful, who announced the prize, called the decision “incredible.”
Ahead of the announcement, the four had sent a plea to the judges explaining their reasons for forming the collective.
“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,” they wrote.
More than 60,000 people have already seen the works by the four artists since they went on display at the Margate gallery in September.
“We each work with specific issues, but it doesn’t mean that we see those things in separation from each other,” Abu Hamdan said.
“The condition of a competition would actually turn the messages away from each other,” he added.
Turner Contemporary director Victoria Pomery has described their work as “fantastic exhibitions.”
Murillo had been the favorite to win. His work draws on his experiences of growing up in Colombia, before moving to London at age 11.
He combines his roots in Latin America with Western art, to create sculptures, models and vividly painted abstract canvasses for multimedia installations.
“We have very strong individual voices, but somehow the prize needed to be concluded in this way,” he said after the announcement.
Abu Hamdan is based in Beirut. Part of his submission for the coveted prize involved recreating the acoustic memories of former inmates of a Syrian prison.
Cammock’s film The Long Note examines the different roles and involvement of women in the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland in 1968. She is based in London.
London-based Shani described her submission as an “expanded psychedelic” adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 15th work The Book of the City of Ladies.
Her work, which was nearly five years in the making, features 12 imagined characters on film and live performance to explore feminism and power structures.
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