The Turner Prize has arrived at Tate Liverpool for the second time in 20 years. Visitors can now explore the work of this year’s nominees free of charge.
I visited the exhibition wandered around and engaged with each artist’s work, discovering similarities and differences with exciting layers and concepts in their work. At the show’s end, you will also have your chance to vote for your favourite artist.
The shortlisted exhibiting artists are: Heather Phillipson, Ingrid Pollard Veronica Ryan and Sin Wai Kin
Tate Liverpool has done an excellent job presenting the artists within the space. As you first enter the gallery, you have an opportunity to watch a short video presentation of each artist discussing their work. I found it informative to hear them talk about their journeys and how their art developed. I also liked the display area containing books that inspired each artist with their works.
The first artist I listened to was Heather Phillipson. “Nominated for her solo exhibition RUPTURE NO 1: blowtorching the bitten peach Tate Britain and her Fourth Plinth commission THE END, Heather Phillipson’s wide-ranging practice involves collisions of wildly different materials, media and gestures in what she calls, “quantum thought experiments” a world that is full of strangeness and danger, one she calls a “pre-post-historic environment”. I recently found her work at Tate Britain while wandering through the gallery, exploring one afternoon. I remember thinking what a strange installation, full of what seemed like sci-fi and futuristic monsters, rather perplexed but also fascinated. You can now find her work exhibited here at Tate Liverpool as one of the finalists. She is also an award-winning published poet as well as a musician. Her practice spans many mediums; film, video, sculpture, music, and digital media are just a few examples and through these unexpected combinations, “she conjures absurd and complex systems.”I appreciated the installation. There is a dystopian feel to these artworks. Apparently, “She reimagined the galleries as alive and happening in a parallel time zone. Mutant creatures, built for technological remains, populated the space.” Stand there, take it all in, and find yourself drifting into another land and another time.
The artist Veronica Ryan shared her interest in issues revolving around identity, history, belonging and human psychology, “using a wide range of materials, including bronze, plaster, marble, textile and found objects.” Similarly, Heather Phillipson and artist Ingrid Pollard also used found objects in their art. Veronica Ryan described how she carried out the crochet of some of her artworks in quiet spaces, even on public transport. She is fascinated with organic shapes and the creative interpretation of these forms. I loved how she used the placement of objects and juxtapositions to create unusual contrasts and harmonies. Sometimes, you couldn’t determine what things were because of how they had been placed with other associate objects, “enabling multiple narratives to emerge.” “Themes such as the historical networks of intergenerational and commercial exchange alongside the cycles of death and rebirth, environmental breakdown and collective trauma, all inhabit her unique sculptural practice.” I loved her installation ‘Central Island” consisting of found objects she had adapted and also left natural at Tate Liverpool, particularly her crocheted pouches that were suspended from the ceiling and her steel and glass tables adorned with unusual combinations of found objects. In her video where she describes her work, she said that the giant Caribbean fruits she had designed as sculptures in London were often played upon and sat upon by many people. She said that she was fascinated by this public interaction with her work regarding how it related to the present and the past. Situated on Narrow Way in Hackney Central, Veronica Ryan’s ‘giant Caribbean fruits’ is the first permanent public sculpture by the first Black female artist in the UK. The three-piece, marble and bronze work serves as a tactile intervention at the heart of community life in the borough.
“The work references narratives of migration and movement and draws on the artist’s memories of visiting east London markets, including Hackney’s Ridley Road Market, as a child.”
The final two exhibitions were also worth exploring. Sin Wai Kin has incredible film talent and uses fascinating concepts relating to popular culture and identity. For example, she communicated the ambiguity of self-identity through the idea of the traditional boy band. It was interesting to see how she had used this popular mainstream model as a canvas to reinterpret and question mainstream ideas.
I was drawn in by their painted faces, the surrealism of the performance, the expressions of their faces, as well as the focus on fashion and popular culture and how she was breaking down stereotypical branding. Sin’s work “focuses on speculative fiction within performance, moving image, writing and print to question idealised images, constructed categories and binary conceptions of consciousness. Their work, a film titled “It’s always you”, uses storytelling to create fantasy narratives which interrupt normative processes of desire, identification and objectification.” It was all beautifully filmed, surrealistic and post-modern. I found it interesting and educational.
Ingrid Pollard’s work was of its time. “Pollard is a photographer, media artist and researcher, with a social practice centred on issues of representation and history within the British landscape, particularly focusing on race, gender, and the concept of other.” She has responded to race and identity as an essential subject in her work, observing in particular how colonialism and racism have become not only engrained into our culture through people’s actions in history but also how it’s become so much part of people’s conscience on a subliminal level that many don’t even necessarily notice it in their surroundings anymore even though it is still there. She draws attention to this, in one instance, by taking the image of ‘the black boy’ that at one point was so often depicted on English signage that it is in many ways still out there on buildings from the past. People are often unaware of it, although many will be aware that these pubs and signs still exist. They show, yet again how we can’t escape from our history of colonialism, as the remnants are still there. She has collected many of these signs and statues over many years, which form an essential part of her political message and art practice. She has also taken an archival photograph of a young black girl who had been a May Queen and had taken a bow and curtsy as the young black girl in an early film titled ‘Springtime in an English Village’ (1944), shown in a curtsey. Pollard extends this idea and the motion of the girl’s bow symbolically into moving found objects that have become kinetic moving machines and rather threatening. The machines and their mechanisms seemed to reflect the underlying concept of oppression and mechanical structures, how people become part of this machine, and its overall movement about the expectations forced upon them. I was pretty drawn towards these works. They reminded me of the early twentieth-century art form, where kinetics and found objects were used to explore the changing world and political landscape. They are so important in terms of how we reflect and move forward in society to try and improve the way society and people relate to one another and, at the same time, learn from history. I felt that Ingrid’s works and subject matter had many links to the exhibitions. Radical Landscapes and Turner and Fofana’s recent exhibition. Pollard is an intriguing artist.
Turner Prize Tate Liverpool An exceptional exhibition not to be missed. FREE
The winner will be announced 7 December in Liverpool
Words/Photos Alice Lenkiewicz Top Photo Heather Phillipson’s Rupture No 6: blowtorching the bitten peach at Tate Liverpool