This year's Turners prize finalists take a look at feminist science fiction, sound as a forensic tool, the role of women in the civil rights movement in Derry in 1964 and collective conscience. This heady mix is explored through painting, sculpture, installation, film and digital imagery. To get you excited or this year's Turner Prize, here’s a snapshot of the four finalists and their work.
LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an artist and audio investigator, whose work explores ‘the politics of listening’ and the role of sound and voice within the law and human rights.
His work features a series of three pieces on a loop using audio-video installations, audio archives and speech to text algorithm. He explores the use of sound in a forensic context. Specifically, he was asked by Amnesty International to work with six survivors from Saydnaya a Syrian prison which, since the Syrian revolution of 2011 turned into a Centre for torture and execution and where speaking became punishable by death. Abu Hamdan conducted ‘earwitness’ interviews, using sound to elicit their experiences in the prison and build up an account of what actually happened during this time. His works include, Saydnaya a light box that visually presents how the prisoners voices became after the Syrian Revolution and suggests that a silent whisper can be as telling as a spoken testimony. Walled Unwalled is a video piece lasting 20 minutes which looks at different cases where evidence is heard or experienced through walls. After SFX is 25-minute text to algorithm piece which looks at the role of the Foley artist in creating sounds that can spark a memory or evoke an emotion.
Her 1 hour and 39-minute video ‘The Long Note’, is an eclectic interwoven series of interviews, songs, prose and original footage exploring the role of women in the civil rights movement in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1968. She relates this to the global struggles for equality in the 1960s, in particular the feminist and African American civil rights movements in the United States. Cammock also presents ‘Shouting in Whispers’ a series of simple, evocative text-based prints using quotes from political activist Claudia Jones and Public Enemy. Cammock also provides a sit-down library space to encourage visitors to further research the civil rights movements.
Oscar's installation features a striking scene of 23 human sized papier mache effigies sitting on benches, waiting, looking onto a black canvas. Each effigy has a different gormless expression all dressed for work. This is Murillo’s Collective Conscience work, a reflection on migration, globalization and the political and socio-economic position of our world today. The black canvas the effigies are seemingly looking on to, which blocks out the view of The North Sea, reflects the darkness and the ignorance of this moment. Behind the pews of figures Murillo presents Surge- social cataracts, a series of ethereal abstract paintings representing the desire to be immersed in an idealized world view and ignore the state of the real world. Alongside this, Murillo is running a project for local schools, 'Frequencies', where he has distributed canvases that will be fixed to students’ desks for six months with an open invite for students to write or draw whatever they want.
This immersive installation presents a bright pink luscious fantastical city, with soft giant forms hanging from the ceiling, reflective spheres, puddles of nature and a huge green hand that sits in the middle. It’s a real feast for the eyes as Shani uses an eclectic mix of materials and forms to create her saturated world. On the floor there are 12 pairs of busy animated miniature hands, which represent the mythical and real female characters which form the basis of the words spoken by the head on a screen. The dialogue, which you listen to on the headphones provided, is sometimes violent and erotic - so adults only – is a reading from Shani’s book ‘Our Fatal Magic,’ which uses the 12 female characters to explore and anticipate a post-patriarchal world.
If you've never been to Margate, there are plenty of other activities in addition to the Turner Prize, to take in, thanks to the Margate Now Festival, a programme of exhibitions, events, educational projects and performances running from now until 12 January 2020.