A group of Belfast-based artists whose work is a response to issues affecting Northern Ireland and a collective of QTIBPOC (Queer, Trans and Intersex Black and People of Colour) artists challenging norms of sound-system culture across the African diaspora are on the shortlist for the Turner Prize 2021.
The five-strong shortlist is made up of entirely of artist collectives for the first time in the history of the award, with no single person chosen.
Array Collective’s recent projects include public artworks in support of the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland, while Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS) uses club nights, art installations, technical workshops and live performance, including a recent 24-hour fundraising rave.
They are joined on the shortlist by Cooking Sections, a London-based duo examining the systems that organise the world through food, whose recent work has included a sound, light and sculpture installation at Tate Britain reflecting on salmon farming, as well as an ongoing installation-performance in the Isle of Skye which sees an underwater oyster table turn into a community dining space at low tide.
Also in the running is Gentle/Radical, a project based in Cardiff run by artists, community workers, performers, faith practitioners and writers advocating for art as a tool for social change, whose activities include Doorstep Revolution, an ongoing project to share neighbourhood stories during lockdown; and the pop-up cinema space Gentle/Radical Film Club.
The final collective on the list is Hastings-based Project Art Works, which is a group of neurodiverse artists – people with brain differences such as ADHD and autism, whose recent projects include the film Illuminating the Wilderness 2019, which follows members of the collective with their families and carers exploring a remote Scottish glen.
An exhibition of the work of the shortlisted groups will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry from September 29 2021 to January 12 2022 as part of the UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations.
The winner will be announced on December 1 2021 at an award ceremony at Coventry Cathedral.
Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner Prize jury, said: “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.
“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.”
Francis Nielsen, cultural and creative director of Culture Coventry, added: “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.”
The Turner Prize is one of the world’s best-known prizes for the visual arts.
Established in 1984, the prize is named after the radical British painter JMW Turner and the winner is awarded £25,000 with £10,000 going to each of the others shortlisted.