In an unprecedented move, the jury of the Turner Prize, the prestigious annual award which recognizes contemporary artists born or based in Great Britain, has awarded this year’s honor to all four of the prize’s nominees: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani. The accolade was presented by Edward Enninful, the editor in chief of British Vogue, at a ceremony that took place this evening at Dreamland in Margate.
The four nominees had appealed to the jury to consider awarding the prize to them as a collective due to their shared commitment to urgent social and political causes. “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,” reads a letter penned by the artists. The jury voted unanimously in favor of their request.
Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner Prize jury, said: “In coming together and presenting themselves as a group, this year’s nominated artists certainly gave the jury a lot to think about. But it is very much in the spirit of these artists’ work to challenge convention, to resist polarized world views, and to champion other voices. The jury all felt that this made the collective a worthy winner of the Turner Prize.”
Comprising Alessio Antoniolli, director of Gasworks & Triangle Network; Elvira Dyangani Ose, director of The Showroom Gallery and Goldsmiths lecturer; Victoria Pomery, director of Turner Contemporary; and writer Charlie Porter, writer, the jury added, “We are honored to be supporting this bold statement of solidarity and collaboration in these divided times. Their symbolic act reflects the political and social poetics that we admire and value in their work.”
The 2019 edition of the award marks several firsts for the Turner Prize. In addition to this being the first time the prize has ever been given to more than one artist, the prize exhibition is also the first to be held at a venue outside of London. Next year, the prize, which was established in 1984 and named after JMW Turner (1775–1851), will be hosted by Tate Britain.