Since it was first established in 1984, the Turner Prize has become one of the best-known visual art prizes and a fixture of the art world calendar. Each year, four artists born, living or working in Britain are shortlisted, and the prize is awarded for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation in the preceding year. Turner Prize 2017 will bring a breath of fresh air into this renowned art competition. As announced by Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain, criteria has been changed to include artists over 50 from 2017 on. So far, the Turner Prize has boasted about its "discovery" of emerging artists of the younger generation, including Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and Rachel Whiteread. However, with the new criteria established, Turner Prize will now acknowledge the fact that artists can experience a breakthrough in their work at any age.
Announced on May 3rd by Tate Britain, the list of the four nominated artists for the 2017 Turner Prize clearly reflects this progressive shift. The shortlisted artists Hurvin Anderson, Andrea Büttner, Lubaina Himid and Rosalind Nashashibi are all over 40, with Himid being 62 and Anderson 52. Additionally, the list includes three women and one man and is racially diverse in terms of the artists’ heritage, suggesting a pointed rebuke to the reactionary and isolationist thinking of Brexit-era Britain.
Taught in the 1990s by Peter Doig, Hurvin Anderson creates evocative paintings that are a synthesis of ideas and atmospheres, figurative and abstract modes. His eerie, dense depictions of lush Caribbean landscapes and urban barbershops explore unstable ideas of memory, conjoined histories, and cross-culturalism. Anderson has been nominated for his shows Dub Versions at New Art Exchange in Nottingham, exploring Anderson’s practice in depth through a display of both existing and newly commissioned works, and Backdrop at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada, the most comprehensive survey of Anderson’s work to date, presenting new and recent paintings alongside unseen sculpture and photography.
Filled with references and themes that encompass faith and purity, poverty and shame, the practice of Andrea Büttner, expressed in a variety of mediums, explores religion, morality and ethics. Additionally, she is interested in the role of the amateur in the production of culture, but also in the position the artwork occupies between the intimate practice of its production and the public practice of its presentation. The artist has been nominated for her exhibitions Gesamtzusammenhang at Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen and her solo show at David Kordansky in Los Angeles.
For the last four decades, the practice of Lubaina Himid has been tackling questions of personal and political identity through vivid installations, paintings and prints. Born in Zanzibar and raised in the UK, she creates a cut-out tableaux of funny, engaging figures that reference the African diaspora and the slave industry. The artist has been nominated for her widely-acclaimed trio of shows, the solo exhibitions Invisible Strategies at Modern Art Oxford and Navigation Charts at Spike Island in Bristo, and her participation in the group exhibition The Place is Here at Nottingham Contemporary.
Working mainly in the field of moving image, Rosalind Nashashibi explores sites of human occupation and the coded relationships that unfold within them, presenting how intimate gestures take place in controlled environments. Her works capture the everyday reality, from a jumble sale and New York cops hanging around the precinct house to life in Gaza and gay cruising on Hampstead Heath. The artist has been nominated for her solo exhibition On This Island at The University Art Galleries at UV Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts in California, and for her participation in Documenta 14.
The rule that previously discredited artists over 50 was clearly designed to prevent older artists to dominate through by their seniority alone. The shortlist for the Turner Prize 2017 is unexpected and refreshing, acknowledging that the new ways of saying and doing things often arrive over years, if not decades. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime to become an artist and to have the work recognized. With this crucial and game-changing shortlist show, the Turner Prize now provokes interesting and relevant discussions. The exhibition of work by these four artists will be staged on September 26th, 2017 at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations. The winner of the Turner Prize 2017 will be announced on December 5th and will receive £25,000 (~$32,000). According to a bookie cited by the Guardian, Himid is far and away the favorite to win, with 6/4 odds.
Featured image: Turner Prize 2017, via Tate.org. All images used for illustrative purposes only.