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The Refreshingly Diverse Shortlist for the 2017 Turner Prize

All four of this year’s nominees for the UK’s top art prize have roots outside Britain.

Lubaina Himid, "Naming the Money" (2004), installation view of <em>Navigation Charts</em> at Spike Island, Bristol (2017) (courtesy the artist, Hollybush Gardens, and National Museums, Liverpool; photo by Stuart Whipps)
Lubaina Himid, “Naming the Money” (2004), installation view in Navigation Charts at Spike Island, Bristol (2017) (photo by Stuart Whipps; courtesy the artist, Hollybush Gardens, and National Museums, Liverpool)

The shortlist of nominees has been released for the 2017 Turner Prize, the prestigious award’s first edition since a preexisting ban on artists over 50 was lifted. The four nominees are the Germany-born conceptual artist Andrea Büttner, the British moving image artist Rosalind Nashashibi, the British painter Hurvin Anderson, and the Tanzania-born painter and sculptor Lubaina Himid. The latter two, aged 52 and 62, respectively, would not have been eligible last year.

Three of the nominees are women, two are people of color, and two (Anderson and Himid) are known primarily for painting — a medium historically disadvantaged in the Turner Prize competition. As Adrian Searle wrote in the Guardian, the shortlist suggests a pointed rebuke to the reactionary and isolationist thinking of Brexit-era Britain. All of the nominees have roots beyond the UK: Anderson was born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents; Büttner, a German citizen, was born in Stuttgart and now splits her time between London and Frankfurt; Himid was born in Zanzibar and is a professor at University of Central Lancashire; and Nashashibi was born in Croydon to a Palestinian father and Irish mother.

Hurvin Anderson, "Is it OK to be black?" (2016), oil on canvas, 130 x 130 cm (courtesy the artist)
Hurvin Anderson, “Is it OK to be black?” (2016), oil on canvas, 130 x 130 cm (courtesy the artist)

Three of the nominees — Anderson, Büttner, and Himid — hold degrees from the Royal College of Art, while Nashashibi received her MFA from the Glasgow School of Art. Anderson, whose color-saturated, figurative paintings are just as likely to directly reference his Afro-Caribbean background as they are to show quiet interiors and verdant pastoral scenes, has had recent solo shows at Michael Werner Gallery in New York, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Büttner, whose conceptual practice often incorporates collaboration and spans printmaking, painting, installation, and film, recently had solo shows at David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles and the Walker Art Center; she also won the Max Mara Art Prize for Women for 2009–11. Himid, whose popping paintings and sculptures tend to depict black figures in portraits or enigmatic scenes, just had solo shows at Spike Island in Bristol and Modern Art Oxford. Nashashibi, the youngest of this year’s nominees at 43, is primarily known for moving-image works that incorporate animation and film shot in locales as diverse as Gaza and Guatemala. In the past two years she’s had solo shows at New York’s Murray Guy gallery, the University Art Gallery at University of California, Irvine, and the Imperial War Museum in London.

Still from Rosalind Nashashibi, "Electrical Gaza" (2015) (courtesy the artist)
Still from Rosalind Nashashibi, “Electrical Gaza” (2015) (courtesy the artist)

Works by all four artists will go on view at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull — the UK’s “city of culture” for 2017 — on September 26. The winner of the prize will be named in a ceremony on December 5 and receive £25,000 (~$32,000). The jury for this year’s award consists of Frieze co-editor Dan Fox, art critic Martin Herbert, Mason Leaver-Yap of the Walker Art Center and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Showroom Director Emily Pethick, with Tate Britain Director Alex Farquharson serving as jury chair. According to a bookie cited by the Guardian, Himid is far and away the favorite to win, with 6/4 odds.

Installation view of Andrea Büttner’s “Beggar” and “Beggar” (both 2015), woodcuts, at the Walker Art Center (photo by Sheila Regan for Hyperallergic)
Installation view of Andrea Büttner’s “Beggar” and “Beggar” (both 2015), woodcuts, at the Walker Art Center (photo by Sheila Regan/Hyperallergic)
Lubaina Himid, "A Fashionable Marriage" (1986), installation view at Nottingham Contemporary (2017) (© Nottingham Contemporary, courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, photo by Andy Keate)
Lubaina Himid, “A Fashionable Marriage” (1986), installation view at Nottingham Contemporary (2017) (© Nottingham Contemporary, courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, photo by Andy Keate)
Hurvin Andrson, "Flat Top" (2008), oil on canvas, 250 x 208 cm (courtesy the artist)
Hurvin Andrson, “Flat Top” (2008), oil on canvas, 250 x 208 cm (courtesy the artist)
Rosalind Nashashibi, "Vivian's Garden" (2017), digital video transferred from 16mm film, color, sound, 30 min (courtesy of the artist)
Rosalind Nashashibi, “Vivian’s Garden” (2017), digital video transferred from 16mm film, color, sound, 30 min (courtesy of the artist)
Installation view of <em>Andrea Büttner</em> at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, 2016 (photo by Brian Forrest)
Installation view of Andrea Büttner at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, 2016 (photo by Brian Forrest)

The 2017 Turner Prize exhibition runs September 26, 2017–January 7, 2018, at the Ferens Art Gallery (Queen Victoria Square, Hull, UK).

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