Featuring installation, video, sound and painting by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani, the show unsurprisingly spans a wide variety of approaches. However, there are a number of underlying themes that link the works, including a critique of society’s physical and idealogical structures, and the restrictions that we often impose upon ourselves.
Although not explicitly stated, it is also hard not to view this year’s selection through the eyes of Brexit, with a number of the works confronting issues relating to globalisation, migration and notions of exchange.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan presents three time-based works which draw on his research exploring ‘earwitness’ testimonies. The resulting audio-video installation, presented in a large darkened space, captures an investigation by the artist, Amnesty International and 2018 Turner Prize nominees Forensic Architecture into the Syrian regime prison of Saydnaya.
Six survivors recall their acoustic memories about what happened in the prison, with their thoughts projected on a large screen. Speakers interrupt the silence with various noises and sound effects linked to their recollections, with the results offering a powerful exploration of the link between sound and memory, architecture and language.
In a separate room, Helen Cammock is presenting a film work, The Long Note, which examines the overlooked role women played in the civil rights movement in Derry, Northern Ireland, that began in 1968. It features a mix of archived material and new interviews, with the results highlighting the complexity of history and how it is told.
It raises the question: how will history remember the current political events and what will future generations make of the decisions being made right now?
Cammock is also presenting two performances, a reading space and a series of screen prints, Shouting in Whispers, which include her own texts and quotations from sources ranging from the Trinidad-born political activist Claudia Jones and the hip-hop group Public Enemy.
Oscar Murillo’s striking installation features a group of papier mâché figures that represent a ‘globalised workforce’. Interestingly they travelled to Margate from the artist’s London studio via public transport, which must have been unnerving for the fellow passengers.
Seated on a variety of wooden benches, the group face the gallery’s large window overlooking the sea. However, Murillo has covered the majority of the glass with a black sheet, meaning only a slither of the horizon can be viewed through a tear.
Murillo is also showing two large-scale bodies of unstretched paintings, surge (social cataracts) and The Institute of Reconciliation. These offer a reflection on ‘social blindness’ and ‘the darkness of the contemporary moment’.
The final artist, Tai Shani, presents a mix of performance, film, installation and sculpture. Her bright and colourful work fills the vast space, with a series of large objects hanging from the ceiling and placed on the floor.
Inspired by Christine de Pizan’s 15th century proto-feminist text The Book of the City of Ladies, Shani creates a narrative where historical events, science fiction and myths combine.
Continuing the recent trend for the Turner Prize to be displayed at a non-London based gallery on alternate years, the gallery’s location in Margate also marks the first time the venue for the Turner Prize has a direct connection with JMW Turner.
The building stands on the site of the artist’s former lodging house, with its sea views and skies an inspiration for much of his work.
The Turner Prize is awarded to an artist born or based in the UK for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the last 12 months. The winner will receive £25,000, with £5,000 being awarded to each of the other shortlisted artists.
This year’s jury includes: Alessio Antoniolli, director, Gasworks & Triangle Network; Elvira Dyangani Ose, director of The Showroom Gallery and lecturer in visual cultures at Goldsmiths; Victoria Pomery, director, Turner Contemporary, Margate and Charlie Porter, writer. The jury is chaired by Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain.
The winner of the Turner Prize 2019 will be announced on 3 December at an award ceremony broadcast live on the BBC. The exhibition will continue at Turner Contemporary until 21 January 2020
1. Tai Shani, DC: Semiramis, 2019, installation, Turner Prize 2019 at Turner Contemporary. Photo: David Levene; Courtesy: the artist and Turner Contemporary
2. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Walled Unwalled, 2018, installation view. Photo: Stuart Leech; Courtesy: the artist and Turner Contemporary
3. Helen Cammock, Shouting in Whispers, 2017, series of five hand-pulled screen prints, including reading materials. Photo: David Levene; Courtesy: the artist and Turner Contemporary
4. Oscar Murillo, installation Turner Prize 2019 at Turner Contemporary. Including: surge (social cataracts), 2019, Collective Conscience, 2019, The Institute of Reconciliation, 2019, and John Watson Nicol, Lochaber No More, 1883. Photo: David Levene. Courtesy: the artist and Turner Contemporary
5. Tai Shani, DC: Semiramis, 2019, installation, Turner Prize 2019 at Turner Contemporary. Photo by David Levene. Courtesy the artist and Turner Contemporary. Captions from the exhibition wall text: DC: Semiramis, 2019 Installation, 4K video, soundtrack by Let’s Eat Grandma DC: Semiramis was commissioned by Glasgow International and The Tetley in collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary. Courtesy: the artist DC: Semiramis, 2019 performance, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. Copyright: the artist
6. Helen Cammock, video still from The Long Note, 2018. Photo: David Levene.
7. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, After SFX, 2018. Photo: Stuart Leech
8. Oscar Murillo, Turner Prize 2019 at Turner Contemporary. Photo: David Levene. Courtesy: the artist and Turner Contemporary