I had the opportunity to see this years Turner Prize nominees exhibition at Tate Britain over the weekend, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
To give some background, founded in 1984 the Turner Prize is awarded annually to an artist born or based in Britain for work showcasing visual art. It is a world renowned prize which, has always provided interest and debate about contemporary British art.
Previous winners have included; Gilbert & George, Anish Kapoor, Anthony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Gillian Wearing, Chris Ofili, Steve McQueen, Grayson Perry and Jeremy Deller to name just a few.
This years nominees; Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaieman, Charlotte Prodger and Luke Willis Thompson have all got one thing in common, they use film and digital imagery, which is a first as no other art form is nominated, no sculptures and no paintings – yikes!
Ok, so onto the works. As I entered the studio, there was a large sofa and coffee table present in the middle of the room, the reason for this only became clearer much later, there were four rooms for people to enter, I made my way through to the first room at the far end – Charlotte Prodger – BRIDGIT.
BRIDGIT is an autobiographical work shot on an iPhone (why?! Android phones are also quite good you know, anyway) over the course of a year. The film consists shots of Scottish Highlands and Prodger’s home including her cat, these are overlaid with Prodger narrating extracts from her diaries, correspondence with friends and passages from books. Prodger talks about coming out and her queer identity, working in a care home and going under general anaesthetic. The name BRIDGIT is taken from the Neolithic deity Bridgit, whose name and associations have altered over time across different locations. Personally I really enjoyed this one.
The next room; Luke Willis Thompson. Thompson presents a trilogy of works on 35mm film they are: Cemetery of Unicorns and Liveries, autoportrait and _Human. The films are silent and projected on a wall instead of a screen. I will not go too much into the first and second films as I think you need to see and decide yourself, but there has been some controversy of his subjects. It has been said that they have collaborated but I think it is a bit sensationalised at times. The last film shows Thompson using his own skin and pins to form a house, again you decide.
The third room; Forensic Architecture (an international research agency that uses innovative technological and architectural processes to investigate allegations of state and corporate violence). The agency works closely with organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations. This work focuses on cases related to the Bedouin communities of the Negev/Naqab desert in southern Israel. It consists of dramatic video footage of the incidents, which is harrowing to watch. It is shot like a documentary and perhaps sensibly to.
The final room; Naeem Mohaieman – Three Works. This is by far the longest of the works and I have to admit I did not see all of it – it is over three hours. It consists of: Two Meetings and a Funeral, Tripoli Cancelled and Volume Eleven (flaw in the algorithm of cosmopolitanism). The first two works are films while the last is a book (which you can take away and read later).
Two Meetings and a Funeral is a three screen film centring on the power struggle between the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Tripoli Cancelled is a fiction film followingthe daily routine of a man who has lived in a abandoned airport for a decade. It reflects on the isolation of modern life and the ways we find hope through the stories we tell ourselves and our loved ones. Volume Eleven is a book telling the story of Mohaieman’s great uncle Bengali author Syed Mutjaba Ali and his hope that the India would be liberated from British colonial rule during the Second World War, all makes for fascinating conversations.
Overall I enjoyed all the exhibitions, but to fully appreciate them I would need to revisit, on this occasion I would. But I would start early and ask if Tate can let me bring coffee after all, there was a coffee table and a sofa.
Turner Prize Winner will be announced on December 4th 2018