Three artists and a research group up for Turner Prize

Forensic Architecture, Naeem Mohaiemen, Charlotte Prodger and Luke Willis Thompson are in the running for Britain's prestigious contemporary art award

LONDON •The group "scours for evidence of lies, crimes and human rights violations", according to a recent New York Times report.

It said the research group Forensic Architecture combines the "spatial and engineering skills of architects, the data-gathering prowess of librarians, the doggedness of investigative journalists and the storytelling finesse of screenwriters".

On Thursday, Forensic Architecture plus three artists - Naeem Mohaiemen, Charlotte Prodger and Luke Willis Thompson - were shortlisted for the Turner Prize, Britain's prestigious contemporary art award.

The three artists depicted social, racial and political issues in film.

The prize, awarded by Tate Britain, which runs four art galleries, is given annually to an artist born or living in Britain for an outstanding exhibition in the past year.

The winner will receive £25,000 (S$46,200) while the other nominees will each get £5,000.

Last year, the prize was opened to artists aged 50 and older, but the change was moot this year.

All the names on the shortlist are younger.

Forensic Architecture - nominated for exhibitions in London, Barcelona, Spain, and Mexico City - is a collaboration of architects, artists, film-makers, software developers, archaeologists, scientists and others, based at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Mohaiemen, 49, picked for his participation in Documenta 14 and his solo exhibition at MoMA PS1 in New York, creates films that draw on family history, threaded with reflections on colonialism, politics and religion.

"He aptly shows not just how the personal is always entwined with the political, but also how history veers from neat linear narratives into circular, concentric and even fantastic and unimaginable patterns and designs," art critic Martha Schwendener wrote in The Times in January.

Prodger, 44, was chosen for her solo exhibition, Bridgit/Stoneymollan Trail, a film that combines videos shot on camcorders and iPhones since the 1990s, overlaid with texts from science-fiction writer Samuel R. Delany and singer Nina Simone.

"The cumulative effect of Stoneymollan Trail is elegiac," art critic Adrian Searle wrote in The Guardian. "Prodger channels the voices of the living and the dead, mixing them with her own past."

The New Zealand-born Thompson, 30, got the nod for his solo exhibition Autoportrait, a silent 35mm film of Diamond Reynolds, who shared a video on Facebook Live of the moments after her partner was fatally shot by a police officer in Minnesota.

"Portrayed in black and white against a plain dark backdrop, she has the aura of a Renaissance madonna or a Garbo-era movie star," Hettie Judah commented in The Guardian last year.

"Thompson shows her as a formidable, complex presence."

An exhibition of work by the four finalists will open at Tate Britain on Sept 25 and run till Jan 6.

Under a new partnership with banking group BNP Paribas, entry will be free for those 25 or younger in the first 25 days of the show.

The winner of the 2018 prize, chosen by a four-person jury led by Mr Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain, will be announced at a ceremony broadcast live on the BBC in early December.

The Turner Prize, founded in 1984, can give a major boost to an artist's career. Former recipients include Damien Hirst, Steve McQueen and Grayson Perry.

The British news media, which eagerly covers the award, has often turned the prize into an opportunity to examine, or denounce, the state of contemporary art.

Last year, Lubaina Himid became the oldest winner at 62.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'Three artists and a research group up for Turner Prize'. Print Edition | Subscribe