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  • Dec 04, 2019

2019 Turner Prize Awarded to All Four Nominees

LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN is one of four winners of the 2019 Turner Prize, awarded collectively to all nominees. Photo by Stuart Wilson / Getty Images. Courtesy Tate, United Kingdom.

For the first time in its 35-year history, the Turner Prize has been awarded to all four nominees: multidisciplinary artists Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Oscar Murillo, Helen Cammock, and Tai Shani. The GBP 40,000 (USD 52,000) award will be shared equally between the four, who were announced as joint winners on December 3 at a ceremony broadcast live by the British Broadcasting Corporation from Margate’s Dreamland amusement park.

The decision was made unanimously in response to the artists’ joint request that the jury consider splitting the prestigious award. The letter stated: “At this time of political crisis in Britain and much of the world, when there is already so much that divides and isolates people and communities, we feel strongly motivated to use the occasion of the Prize to make a collective statement in the name of commonality, multiplicity and solidarity—in art as in society.” 

Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan was recognized for his traveling solo exhibition “Earwitness Theatre” (2018–19), which debuted at London’s Chisenhale Gallery in September 2018, as well as his film installation Walled Unwalled and live audio essay After SFX (both 2018) presented at the Tate Modern that year. The artworks form part of Abu Hamdan’s body of work drawing on his research into the aural experiences of ex-prisoners at Syria’s Saydnaya Prison. He has received widespread acclaim for his diverse practice, receiving the 20th Baloise Art Prize and the Abraaj Group Art Prize at Art Dubai in 2018.

The other winners were also acknowledged for their timely, politically inflected works. Murillo was selected for his sculptural installations and mixed-media paintings interrogating the impacts of industrial food supply, environmental degradation, and uneven global socioeconomic development. Cammock’s exhibition project “The Long Note” (2018) was praised for highlighting women’s roles in Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement during the Troubles through the mediums of film, photography, print, and text. Shani was chosen for her ongoing performance and multimedia project Dark Continent (2014– ), exploring feminine subjectivity and inspired by historical texts and sci-fi elements.

The 2019 Turner Prize was adjudicated by Tate Britain director and jury chair Alex Farquharson; Alessio Antoniolli, director of the London-based Gasworks and Triangle Network; Elvira Dyangani Ose, director of The Showroom Gallery and lecturer in visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London; Victoria Pomery, director of Turner Contemporary, Margate; and writer Charlie Porter. The jury remarked of their decision: “We are honoured to be supporting this bold statement of solidarity and collaboration in these divided times. Their symbolic act reflects the political and social poetics that we admire and value in their work.”

The Turner Prize finalists exhibition is on view at Turner Contemporary, Margate, until January 12, 2020.

Lauren Long is ArtAsiaPacific’s news and web editor.