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2018 Turner Prize Shortlist Spotlights Moving Image Artists

Among this year’s nominees are a 30-year-old artist from New Zealand and a London-based collective that analyzes the architecture and urban design of conflict areas.

Luke Willis Thompson, "autoportrait" (2017), installation view at Chisenhale Gallery, commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create (courtesy the artist; photo by Andy Keate)
Luke Willis Thompson, “autoportrait” (2017), installation view at Chisenhale Gallery, commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create (courtesy the artist; photo by Andy Keate)

This morning, Tate Britain revealed the four artists shortlisted for the 2018 Turner Prize. This year’s nominees are the London-based architecture and media research agency Forensic Architecture; the moving image and conceptual artist Naeem Mohaiemen; the sculptor and video artist Charlotte Prodger; and the sculptor and film artist Luke Willis Thompson. An exhibition showcasing the works of each shortlisted artist will open at Tate Britain on September 25, and the prize’s winner will be announced during a ceremony in December.

This year’s group of nominees is dominated by artists and a collective whose practices tend toward conceptual installations and moving image work. The 2018 shortlist marks a stark contrast to last year’s, which predominantly featured artists making colorful and tactile paintings, prints, and sculptures. The jury for the 2018 Turner Prize includes ArtReview editor and critic Oliver Basciano, Kunsthalle Basel Director Elena Filipovic, Holt-Smithson Foundation Executive Director Lisa Le Feuvre, and the novelist Tom McCarthy, with Tate Britain Director Alex Farquharson serving as jury chair.

Saydnaya prison, as reconstructed by Forensic Architecture using architectural and acoustic modeling (2016) (courtesy Forensic Architecture)
Saydnaya prison, as reconstructed by Forensic Architecture using architectural and acoustic modeling (2016) (courtesy Forensic Architecture)

“Following a thoughtful and rigorous debate, this year’s jury has chosen an outstanding group of artists, all of whom are tackling the most pressing political and humanitarian issues of today,” Farquharson said in a statement. “This shortlist highlights how important the moving image has become in exploring these debates. We are looking forward to what will be a dynamic and absorbing exhibition.”

Forensic Architecture (FA), which is based at Goldsmiths, University of London, specializes in projects that analyze and document contemporary cities as sites of conflict. As the group’s website puts it, FA’s outlook “is that analyzing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in urban, media-rich environments requires modeling dynamic events as they unfold in space and time.” The collective, which, judging by a conspicuously photoshopped group portrait shared by Tate Britain, has 19 members, recently participated in Documenta 14 and has a survey show up currently at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Last year, a traveling exhibition of the agency’s work was shown at both the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City. Though Forensic Architecture is the first urban and architectural design research group to be nominated for the Turner Prize, the architecture and design collective Assemble won the prize in 2015.

Installation view of Counter Investigations: Forensic Architecture at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (photo by Mark Blower)
Installation view of Counter Investigations: Forensic Architecture at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (photo by Mark Blower)

Naeem Mohaiemen is also coming off a strong showing at Documenta 14, and his moving image, conceptual, and text-based works were recently on view in New York in his solo show at MoMA PS1 and in Asia Society’s group exhibition Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions. The London-born, New York-based artist may be best known for video works that explore the nuances of post-colonial identity and the legacies of leftist utopian uprisings. He was also a member of the Visible Collective and wrote about the 2017 Whitney Biennial for Hyperallergic.

Naeem Mohaiemen, "Tripoli Cancelled" (2017, still), single-channel film
Naeem Mohaiemen, “Tripoli Cancelled” (2017, still), single-channel film

Charlotte Prodger, who recently had major solo shows at Bergen Kunsthall in Norway and at SculptureCenter in New York, lives and works in Glasgow. She’s made a name for herself with videos shot on a range of recent and vintage devices that record queer relationships — and how they can be affected by shifts in landscapes and languages — with great intimacy and empathy. “It’s important for me to get away regularly to the wild,” she told I-D last month. “I feel very queer in those places where there are no people around. I feel queer in the city, obviously, all the time. But I still feel queer when I’m on my own in the middle of landscape. Historically, the context of most queer narratives has been urban. What does it mean when you’re away from all those signifiers to be a queer body?”

Charlotte Prodger, "BRIDGIT" (2016, still), single-channel video with sound, 32 minutes (courtesy of the artist, Koppe Astner, Glasgow, and Hollybush Gardens, London)
Charlotte Prodger, “BRIDGIT” (2016, still), single-channel video with sound, 32 minutes (courtesy of the artist, Koppe Astner, Glasgow, and Hollybush Gardens, London)

Luke Willis Thompson who was born in Auckland and splits his time between there and London. He has solo shows opening in the coming months at the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington and Kunsthalle Basel in Switzerland. The latter will feature his film and sculptural works in tribute to victims of police violence, a recurring theme in his oeuvre, which often addresses the mistreatment of minority communities — he is of mixed Fijian and European descent. The Turner Prize jury singled out his filmic portrait of Diamond Reynolds — the partner of Philando Castille who documented his killing by a police officer in a harrowing live video on Facebook — as a “deeply affecting study of grief.”

“In all my work, the function is to perform leaving the museum, either literally or symbolically,” Thomas told Hyperallergic’s Ryan Wong in 2015, when he was featured in the New Museum triennial. “It’s an exiting of the exhibition, but not as a refusal or dismissal but rather a very practical question of how long the feelings and thinking we do around art last once you leave that space and a confirmation that what a museum does is bigger than its architecture.”

Luke Willis Thompson, "autoportrait" (2017), installation view at Chisendale Gallery, commissioned by Chisendale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create (courtesy the artist; photo by Andy Keate)
Luke Willis Thompson, “autoportrait” (2017), installation view at Chisenhale Gallery, commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create (courtesy the artist; photo by Andy Keate)

At just 30 years old, Thompson is by far the youngest of this year’s Turner Prize nominees — Prodger was born in 1974 and Mohaiemen in 1969, while Forensic Architecture was founded by the British-Israeli architect Eyal Weizman in 2011. Last year was the first time the Turner had done away with its requirement that nominees be under 50 years old, which allowed the eventual winner — sculptor Lubaina Himid, who is in her 60s — to be eligible.

The Turner Prize is contemporary art’s most famous award, though only British artists (loosely defined) are eligible. It was established in 1984, and its past winners include Gilbert & George, Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread, Damien Hirst, Gillian Wearing, Chris Ofili, Steve McQueen, Grayson Perry, Susan Philipsz, and Laure Prouvost. It comes with a £25,000 (~$35,000) purse for the winner and £5,000 (~$7,000) each for the runners-up.

Naeem Mohaiemen, "Two Meetings and a Funeral" (2017), three-channel digital video installation, color, sound, 85 minutes, on view in Kassel for Documenta 14 (photo by Michael Nast)
Naeem Mohaiemen, “Two Meetings and a Funeral” (2017), three-channel digital video installation, color, sound, 85 minutes, on view in Kassel for Documenta 14 (photo by Michael Nast)
Charlotte Prodger, "Stoneymollan Trail" (2015), single-channel video with sound, 43 minutes (courtesy of the artist, Koppe Astner, Glasgow, and Hollybush Gardens, London)
Charlotte Prodger, “Stoneymollan Trail” (2015, still), single-channel video with sound, 43 minutes (courtesy of the artist, Koppe Astner, Glasgow, and Hollybush Gardens, London)
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