Earlier today, the shortlist for the 2019 Turner Prize was announced. This year the four artists competing for the prestigious award are Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani. Following the 2018 Turner Prize, which ended up focusing solely on video installations, this year’s cohort, who are all under 50, will feel quite different. The exhibition of works by the nominees will be held at the Turner Contemporary in Margate as every other year the exhibition is held outside of Tate galleries. It will be on show from September 28th through January 2020 with the 2019 winner of the prize being announced on December 3rd.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Chosen for his solo exhibition ‘Earwitness Theatre’ at Chisenhale Gallery, his video installation Walled Unwalled, and performance After SFX at Tate Modern, Abu Hamdan’s works often focus crimes that have been heard, not seen. His installations hinge on the complexities of and notions of memory, language, advocacy, and human rights.
Cammock was shortlisted after her solo exhibition ‘The Long Note’ at Void in Derry-Londonderry and IMMA in Dublin. The exhibition honed in on social histories through film, print, photography, text, and performance in an urgent manner that ultimately winning favour with the jury. ‘The Long Note’ specifically highlighted the history of women during the civil rights movement in Derry Londonderry and the cyclical nature of history, which revealed itself, yet again, during the time.
Participation in the 10th Berlin Biennale, a solo exhibition at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge titled ‘Violent Amnesia,’ and a solo exhibition at Shanghai’s chi K11 art museum landed Murillo on the 2019 shortlist. Reflecting on his own experiences and globalisation, Murillo pushes the boundaries of mediums and techniques. His works include paintings, drawings, sculptures, sound, and performance utilizing an array of materials.
Shani was selected after participating in the 2018 Glasgow International, De Le Warr Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea, and in Still Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance at Nottingham Contemporary as well as her solo show called ‘DC: Semiramis at The Tetley’ in Leeds. Her ongoing project, Dark Continents, which was based on Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies, renders an allegorical city of women creating anachronistic views through theatrical installations, performances, and film.
In its 30th year, the Turner Prize has morphed and grown with the times, sometimes resulting in criticism and outrage. ‘Every year there’s always a surprise of some kind,’ says Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, in a video released by Tate celebrating the prize. ‘People complain because suddenly there’s an artist working in performance or they wonder whether the prize will ever go to a painter again. I think the great achievement of the Turner Prize over 30 years is to have given people an opportunity to disagree with each other and to form a view. Not everyone likes contemporary art, I don’t expect everyone should but I think the Turner Prize has them at least given the opportunity to engage with it.’