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Members of the Belfast-based Array Collective at a 2019 Pride event. Photo: Laura O’Connor.
Members of the Belfast-based Array Collective at a 2019 Pride event. Photo: Laura O’Connor.

Turner Prize 2021 Shortlists Five Artist Collectives

For the first time since the award’s inception in 1984, the organizers of the Turner Prize have announced that the five finalists under consideration are all artist collectives, with no individual artist being nominated. The prize, considered one of the world’s most prestigious, is named for nineteenth-century painter British J. M. W. Turner and awarded annually to a UK visual artist. This year’s prize has been eagerly anticipated, as last year’s was canceled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“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,” said Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson, who chairs the prize’s judging panel. “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.”

All five groups named to this year’s shortlist are known for their social activism. The nominees are Belfast’s eleven-member Array Collective, whose work addresses issues such as abortion rights, queer liberation, and social welfare; London’s Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S), a QTIBPOC (queer, trans and intersex black and people of color) collective combining sound, art, and activism; London duo Cooking Section, whose art and activism center around food; Gentle/Radical, out of Cardiff, Wales, who take the marginal and the local as their subjects; and the neurodiverse collective Project Art Works, from Hasting, East Sussex.

An exhibition featuring the work of all five collectives will open September 29 at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in London, and will remain on view through January 12, 2022. The winner of the £25,000 ($35,000) prize will be announced at an awards ceremony held at the city’s Coventry Cathedral December 1.