A history of contention: 1995 winner Damien Hirst’s “Mother and Child, Divided”
The Tate’s annual Turner Prize, named for the revered British painter J.M.W. Turner, has been actively distancing itself from traditional media since its inception in 1984, and this year’s shortlist is no different. The jury’s selection of UK-born or based artists under 50 has been hailed “decidedly difficult” – the nominees are relatively unknown outside the art world, and of the total four, three work primarily in new media and performance. Artists will exhibit new or existing work of their choice in the Tate Britain, beginning September and running until the final prize ceremony in December. We’ve summarized each artist’s career for easy reading – stay tuned for more Turner coverage and probable controversy.
Duncan Campbell, 41, Irish, based in Glasgow
Campbell, one of three Glasgow School of Art graduates on this year’s shortlist, is nominated for his 2013 film, It for Others. His work resides somewhere between conceptual film and documentary – “A Peculiar Form of Fiction”, to draw from the title of a 2012 group exhibition in which Campbell participated, is an apt description. Weaving together the personal and political through found and original footage, It for Others explores the impact of commodity and colonialism on African art.
Tris Vonna-Michell, 31, British, based in Southend, UK and Stockholm
Vonna-Michell’s work defies easy categorization. Spoken word, sound compositions, photography, video projections and found objects are layered upon each other to produce freeform narrative performances reminiscent of the “Happenings” of sound art pioneer John Cage and Black Mountain College. Of all four nominees, we’re particularly excited to see how Vonna-Michell will choose to approach the requisite pre-prize exhibition at Tate Britain.
James Richards, 30, Welsh, based in Berlin
Richards is the youngest on the 2014 shortlist, and fittingly, his nominated artwork, Rosebud, is a 13-minute collaged video piece sourced from found YouTube clips. He’s described his creative process as the “gathering and de-familiarizing” of material, and, like a true millennial, will spend hours sifting through troves of VHS tapes and radio archives to find the perfect sample. Richards’ editing style is similarly intuitive, and, in contrast to art’s traditionally linear modes of production, is more concerned with the acts of looking and recontextualizing than it is creating.
Ciara Phillips, 37, Canadian, based in Glasgow
screenprint & textile installations
Phillips is the sole nominee born outside the UK and the only artist on the list not working in new media. Her site-specific installations are the closest approximations to traditional media that we’ll see at this year’s exhibition, albeit only marginally. Combining screenprinting, sculpture, textiles, photography and drawing, Phillips’ work is colourful, graphic and starkly formalistic in comparison to the aforementioned nominees. Phillips often works collaboratively, and is nominated for last year’s two-month long workshop The Showroom, during which she produced new site-specific work alongside invited artists and collectives.