Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the art world had to shift, and shift fast.
Such was the case with Turner Prize as well - after awarding all nominees in 2019, one of the most prestigious art awards in the world announced it would cancel its 2020 edition. Instead, it will give 10 one-off £10,000 bursaries to individual contemporary artists.
On July 2, Tate Britain announced the names of the recipients.
Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain said:
Following a lively and rigorous virtual debate, the jury has settled on a list of ten fantastic artists who reflect the exceptional talent found in contemporary British art. From ceramics to film, performance to photography, they represent the many exciting and interdisciplinary ways that artists work today. These bursaries represent a vote of confidence in that work and offer some much-deserved support in challenging times.
Selected for their project Episode 10: A Means Without End, Arika is a political arts organization based in Edinburgh. Presented at Tramway, Glasgow, their initiative consisted of a 5-day program of discussions, screenings, performances and study sessions "exploring ideas in maths and physics as analogies for the desires and struggles of social life and existence."
Liz Johnson Artur has been photographing the lives of the African diaspora for over three decades, as part of her ongoing series Black Balloon Archive, presented in an exhibition at the South London Gallery. Artur is a Ghanaian-Russian photographer based in London.
Working in a variety of media, Oreet Ashery was selected for the exhibition she shared with Jo Spence at The Wellcome Collection, which explored lived experiences of care and chronic illness. The jury highlighted two works from the show: a new film Dying Under Your Eyes and the innovative web series Revisiting Genesis.
Blackbird Mississippi is a performance acted out at the Serpentine Gallery which brought artist Shawanda Corbett the Turner Bursary. In the work, the artist drew parallels between a slave’s voyages on the Underground Railroad to the artist’s own journey towards rehabilitation. The jury also noted her current exhibition of jazz-inspired paintings and hand-thrown ceramics Neighbourhood Garden at Corvi-Mora, London.
Jamie Crewe was selected for two of their exhibitions, at the Humber Street Gallery in Hull and the Grand Union in Birmingham - both inspired by Radclyffe Hall’s 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness and its lasting impressions on generations of queer people.
Cardiff-based Sean Edwards’ Undo Things Done, presented at the 2019 Venice Biennale as part of the Welsh pavilion, was praised by the Turner Prize jury for the way it echoed the artist’s experiences of growing up on a council estate.
Sidsel Meineche Hansen explores the pharmaceutical, pornographic, gaming and tech industries through the innovative use of AR and VR. The jury praised her exhibitions Welcome to End-Used City at Chisenhale Gallery and An Artist's Guide to Stop Being An Artist at the National Gallery of Denmark.
Ima-Abasi Okon was selected for her exhibition Infinite Slippage: nonRepugnant Insolvencies T!-a!-r!-r!-y!-i!-n!-g! as Hand Claps of M’s Hard’Loved’Flesh [I’M irreducibly-undone because] —Quantum Leanage-Complex-Dub at Chisenhale Gallery, which has also toured to the Void Gallery in Derry. The show included industrial air conditioners turned into a multi-channeled sound piece.
the destructors 2019, which reflects on experiences of a young man of Bangladeshi heritage growing up in south London, is an autobiographical film belonging to Imran Perretta. The artwork was commissioned by and exhibited at Chisenhale Gallery, London; Spike Island, Bristol; the Whitworth, The University of Manchester; and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.
Finally, Alberta Whittle produces work that tackles anti-blackness and the trauma, memory and ecological concerns which come in the aftermath of slavery and colonialism. In the spotlight for the jury was the exhibition How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth at Dundee Contemporary Arts.
Because of the pandemic, Tate Britain was not able to stage the annual Turner Prize exhibition of works by winning artists in 2020, deciding to give out the Turner Bursaries instead.
The ten artists were selected “for their significant contributions to new developments in British contemporary art.” Tate Britain also announced that the 2020 winners are also eligible for the Turner Prize in the future.
The members of the 2020 jury were: Richard Birkett, Curator at Large at the Institute of Contemporary Arts; Sarah Munro, Director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; Duro Olowu, designer and curator; and Fatoş Üstek, Director of Liverpool Biennial. The jury is chaired by Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain.
The Turner Prize will return to its exhibition format in 2021.
Featured image: Tate Britain exterior. Credit: Tate Photography.