Francesca Gavin talks to the curators of Tate's contentious contemporary art event to find out more about its four contenders
The Tate’s annual Turner Prize has been fundamental in bringing contemporary art to a wider public since its launch in 1984. This year’s four nominees are sure to create an exhibition brimming with intelligence and inspiration. Here’s why...
The Pop Progressive (above)
Playful and punchy, Anthea Hamilton’s sculptures and graphic works have a joyfulness and madness which makes her one of the most accessible artists in this year’s shortlist. Her solo show at New York’s SculptureCenter New York, Lichen! Libido! Chastity!, garnered her the nomination for the Turner Prize, but she has been a strong figure on the British art scene for years. This is work brimming with humour and bounce yet with a serious rigour. “Huge amounts of research go into these works which are often abundant and joyous,” notes Tate curator Linsey Young. “I’ll also always be thankful to her for introducing me to the image of a young Karl Lagerfeld in lycra.”
Helen Marten is the youngest artist in this year’s list of nominees and has had a phenomenal rise to attention with solo shows at the Palais de Tokyo, Chisenhale Gallery and the Kunsthalle Zurich. Her increasingly interesting hypermodern work, shown most recently at the 56th Venice Biennale and New York’s Greene Naftali gallery, melds sculpture, painting, screen-printed graphics, neon, video, the found and the handmade. “Marten asks us to step outside of our comfort zone, to slow down, and to spend time looking at and piecing together her myriad visual clues,” Tate curator Laura Smith says, adding, “As Flannery O’Connor once said: ‘the longer you look at one object, the more of the world you see in it.’”
The Conceptual Sculptor
There is something rough and wild about much of Michael Dean’s work, but behind it is a strong conceptual depth to these concrete, steel, sand and rusty metal pieces that grow out of his writing. “He translates his words into a typeface of his own design, which he then makes moulds and casts of, allowing him to distort and abstract language to his own ends,” Tate’s Laura Smith explains. The pieces he showed at De Appel and South London Gallery explored ideas around poverty, elitism and education. “Dean’s alphabet forms are almost human-like in their scale and shape, implicating the body of the viewer as they move around his figures.”
The Photographic Pioneer
Nominated for her show Lapses in Thinking By the Person I am at CCA Wattis in San Francisco, Josephine Pryde’s recent photographic works often explores our relationship to the screen. Much of her work plays into a fragmentation of the body – whether that is hand gestures or close-ups. “She engages with found objects and sculpture as a counterpoint to ‘straight’ photography,” observes Tate's Lindsey Young. “Josephine poses questions about the way in which we navigate the world but she never imposes a position on us, something about this stance is for me very reflective of the world we live in where we are so saturated with information and opinions on all sorts of devices and channels.” Instead, we are left with the ambivalent seduction of her images.
The Turner Prize 2016 exhibition runs from September 27, 2016 to January 2, 2017 at Tate Britain, London. The winner will be announced in December at an awards ceremony live on the BBC, the new broadcast partner for the prize.