The artist who installed the fourth plinth sculpture in Trafalgar Square featuring a dollop of whipped cream topped with a cherry, a drone and a fly has been shortlisted for this year’s Turner prize.
Heather Phillipson joins Ingrid Pollard, Veronica Ryan and Sin Wai Kin on this year’s shortlist for the prize, as it returns to Liverpool for the first time in 15 years.
The artists in the running for the world’s best-known awards for visual art use different mediums and forms of expression to help people reconnect with each other and the world around them, as societies emerge from the pandemic.
Phillipson was nominated for her solo exhibition RUPTURE NO 1: blowtorching the bitten peach at Tate Britain and her Trafalgar Square fourth plinth commission, THE END. Her practice involves collisions of different materials, media and gestures in what she calls “quantum thought experiments”.
The jury described the overwhelming experience of visiting Phillipson’s immersive Tate exhibition after lockdown “and applauded the way she splices absurdity, tragedy and imagination to probe urgent and complex ideas”.
Pollard was nominated for her solo exhibition Carbon Slowly Turning at MK Gallery in Milton Keynes. Working primarily in photography, but also sculpture, film and sound, her work questions our relationship with the natural world and interrogates ideas such as Britishness, race and sexuality.
The Tate said Pollard’s work has for decades uncovered stories and histories hidden in plain sight. “[The Jury] were struck by the bold new developments in Pollard’s recent work, especially a new series of kinetic, anthropomorphic sculptures, which build on Pollard’s career-long enquiry into the figure moving through space,” it added.
Nominated for her solo exhibition Along a Spectrum at Spike Island, Bristol, and her Hackney Windrush art commission in London, Ryan creates sculptural objects and installations using containers, compartments, and combinations of natural and fabricated forms to reference displacement, fragmentation and alienation.
The jury praised her new body of work made during a residency at Spike Island, which explores ecology, history and dislocation, as well as the psychological impact of the pandemic. They “were struck by the exquisite sensuality and tactility of her sculptures, both in the gallery and for the public commission in Hackney”, the Tate said.
Sin was nominated for their involvement in the British Art Show 9 and their solo presentation at Blindspot Gallery at the Frieze London art fair. They tell stories through performance, moving image, writing, and print.
Drawing on their own experience existing between binary categories, “their work realises fictional narratives to describe lived realities of desire, identification, and consciousness”, the Tate said. The jury highlighted Sin’s film Dream of Wholeness in Parts 2021, in which traditional Chinese philosophy and dramaturgy intersects with contemporary drag, music and poetry.
The Turner prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. Established in 1984, it is named after the radical British painter JMW Turner (1775-1851). Each year a winner is awarded £25,000 with £10,000 going to each of the other shortlisted artists.
Tate Liverpool was the first gallery outside London to host the prize in 2007 when it helped launch the city’s year as European Capital of Culture.
Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain and co-chair of the Turner Prize jury, said: “With so many museums and galleries reopening in May 2021, it’s been a terrific 12 months for contemporary British art, as demonstrated by this excitingly rich and varied Turner prize shortlist.
“Art has provided much needed enjoyment and escape over the past year, but it has also helped to reconnect us with each other and the world around us, as the practices of the four shortlisted artists variously exemplify.”
Helen Legg, the director of Tate Liverpool and co-chair of the Turner prize jury, said: “The jury has travelled the length and breadth of the country, taking advantage of the easing of lockdown to enjoy the explosion of creativity that has emerged from the pandemic. The result is a diverse group of artists, each with a singular vision, who impressed the judges with the intensity of presentations, while also dealing with important issues facing our society today.”
Last year’s prize was won by the Array Collective, an 11-strong group of artists from across the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland. They beat four other art collectives, the first time no individual artist was shortlisted for the prize.
This year’s winner will be announced at a ceremony in December and an exhibition of their work will be held at the Tate Liverpool from 20 October 2022 to 19 March 2023.