Turner Prize 2021
One of the best-known prizes for visual arts in the world is open now at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum!
For the first time, a Turner Prize jury selected a shortlist consisting entirely of artist collectives. Tackling pressing issues in society today, the five shortlisted collectives are:
- Array Collective
- Black Obsidian Sound System
- Cooking Sections
- Project Art Works
Their work encompasses films, installations, and interdisciplinary practices, as well as socially engaged programmes reflecting on solidarity and community demonstrated in response to the pandemic. All nominees work closely and continuously with communities across the breadth of the UK to inspire social change through art.
Established in 1984, the prize is named after the radical British painter JMW Turner (1775-1851). The Turner Prize winner is awarded £25,000 with £10,000 going to each of the others shortlisted.
Array Collective - Photo by David Levene
Array are a collective of artists and activists rooted in Belfast. They create collaborative actions in response to social issues – for example, around language, gender and reproductive rights – affecting themselves, their communities and allies. Array reclaim and question traditional identities associated with Northern Ireland in playful ways that merge performance, protest, ancient mythology, photography, installation and video.
The Druithaib’s Ball, a new work for Turner Prize 2021, has been realised twice over. In Belfast it was a wake for the centenary of Ireland’s partition in the Black Box (grassroots venue), and was attended by semi-mythological druids along with a community of artists and activists wearing hand-made costumes.
At the Herbert, the event has been transformed into an immersive installation. An imagined síbín (a ‘pub without permission’) hosts a film created from the Belfast event, and a TV showing Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive. A large canopy styled from banners provides a floating roof. The síbín is approached through a circle of flag poles, that references ancient Irish ceremonial sites and contemporary structures, and is illuminated by a dusk-to-dawn light.
Array invite us into a place of contradictions where trauma, dark humour, frustration and release coexist. It is a place to gather outside the sectarian divides that have dominated the collective memory of the North of Ireland for the last hundred years.
Array have also intervened in the Herbert’s collections, inserting an etching of The Druithaib’s Ball, into Gallery 2.
B.O.S.S. - Photo by David Levene
Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) was established in 2018 to bring together a community of queer, trans and non-binary black people and people of colour involved in art, sound and radical activism. Following the legacies of sound system culture they wanted to learn, build and sustain a resource for collective struggles. The London-based system is available to use or rent by community groups and others with the purpose of amplifying and connecting them.
The exhibition features two distinct but connected spaces. The inner space is a reconfiguration of The Only Good System is a Sound System, an immersive environment combining film, light, a sound score and sculpture, exhibited at FACT for Liverpool Biennial (2021). Weaving together archival images, the installation reflects the ways in which marginalised groups have developed methods of coming together against a background of repression and discrimination in the UK. It positions sound culture as a source of collective strength and encounter, where kinship is found and reciprocated. B.O.S.S. considers the speaker as a totem for creating a sacred space, where one can be moved, and experience collective pleasure and healing.
The second space makes the collective’s working practices and artistic labour visible. It will be an evolving discursive/studio space to archive, document and connect with invisibilised communities in the local area, and amplify their collective voice. B.O.S.S. will host a livestream radio broadcast in collaboration with community radio group Hillz FM, and hold a workshop to build the Baby B.O.S.S. system in conjunction with local activist and community groups in Coventry.
Cooking Sections - Photo by Doug Peters PA Wire
Cooking Sections address the environmental impact of intensive food production. Established in London in 2013 by Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe, their work uses food as a lens to observe landscapes in transformation, and as a tool for intervention in those very systems of food production and supply. Using site-responsive installation, performance and film, they explore the overlapping boundaries between art, architecture, ecology and geopolitics.
Salmon: Traces of Escapees is an audio and film installation that explores the environmental impact of salmon farms in Scotland. It reveals the gap between common perceptions of farmed salmon as an affordable luxury, and the reality of its mounting environmental costs – with excrement, drugs, synthetic colour and parasites polluting the surrounding waters.
The installation continues Cooking Sections’ questioning of the impact of food habits on climate change, and proposes CLIMAVORE (rather than herbivore or carnivore) as a form of eating that adapts to the climate. Originated and based in the Isle of Skye since 2016, the project works with communities towards ocean regeneration, promoting alternative ingredients which improve water quality and cultivate marine habitats.
Becoming CLIMAVORE is a UK-wide collective action in which museums are replacing farmed salmon with CLIMAVORE alternatives on the menus in their cafés and restaurants. A twelve-postcard mosaic has been distributed across participating institutions, where visitors can taste and, in the form of postcards, collect part of the project.
CLIMAVORE dishes can be tasted at Alfred’s Café at the Herbert.
Gentle Radical - Photo by David Levene
Gentle/Radical was established in 2017 as a collaborative cultural project based in Cardiff’s Riverside neighbourhood. It comprises community activists, conflict resolution trainers, faith ministers, equalities practitioners, youth workers, land workers, writers and artists. They organise community film screenings, grassroots symposia, performative works, talks and gatherings that bring people together. Their aim to rethink how we live with each other in more equitable ways.
In this exhibition they explore how networks of care and comradeship – often overlooked in working cultures that privilege outputs and results – enable us to face the turbulent present, whilst imagining other futures.
A series of filmed works share slices of their ongoing conversations exploring personal and collective agency in the face of external forces: How do we raise children beyond the nuclear family? How do we hold spaces for grief and loss amidst constant demands to remain productive? How do the multiplicities of diaspora show up amongst us?
A second work shows them coming together to sing Welsh Gorsedd bardic prayers, written in the 18th century as a reimagining of a Welsh culture lost to colonialism. Gentle/Radical are less interested in the polished outcomes of performance than in the act of learning together, giving collective voice to a spiritual knowledge grounded in the pursuit of justice.
Finally, a third element of the presentation takes the form of notes from an emergent curriculum comprising their ideas and those of others. Exploratory, messy and evolving, these offer points of departure into different ways of working and living.
Project Art Works - Photo by Doug Peters- PA Wire
Project Art Works collaborates with people who have complex support needs. Their work is at the intersection of art and care, and takes multiple forms. Their studios provide the conditions for a broad range of independent and collaborative practices with neurodivergent artists, who take part on their own terms to produce paintings, drawings, sculptural objects and film. Alongside the studios, the Support Collective brings together those who care for people with complex support needs to share experience and protect rights through training, resources and advocacy. Project Art Works organise events and projects that work towards greater visibility and understanding of neurodiversity in culture.
At the heart of their presentation for Turner Prize 2021 is a constructed space that holds a physical and digital archive of over 4,000 works produced by neurodivergent artists and makers over two decades. The archive embodies a visible trace of people who are otherwise hidden in the world. A newly edited film of the whole archive sits within the central structure and a small number of works have been selected for exhibition in collaboration with the Herbert’s curatorial team.
There is a studio set up for making work at the far end of the gallery. This is a place for conversation as well as collaborative and independent practice by artists who benefit from supported environments, so that they can represent themselves within the exhibition.
Ideas of interdependence and structures of support provide the context for a range of workshops, creative events and dialogues facilitated by the Project Art Works’ artistic team over the course of the exhibition.
Project Art Works’ ways of working are established and explored through collaborative processes with individuals, families and communities. As an integral part of the exhibition, they will be sharing their practice across 25 days of the exhibition period, through artist residencies, community collaboration and public conversations about art and care.
The members of the Turner Prize 2021 jury are Aaron Cezar, Director, Delfina Foundation; Kim McAleese, Programme Director, Grand Union; Russell Tovey, Actor; and Zoé Whitley, Director, Chisenhale Gallery. The jury is chaired by Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain.
The Turner Prize 2021 is supported by the AKO Foundation, Avanti West Coast and Arts Council England, with additional support from ArtAV, The John Browne Charitable Trust and The Uggla Family Foundation.
Sensory Backpacks and guides created by Anna Farley are available to support your visit. Please pick one up at reception.