The Turner Prize has been shared among the four finalists for the first time ever after the nominees asked judges to show ‘commonality’ during a time of ‘political crisis’.
In a surprise twist last night, Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Tai Shani were all jointly awarded one of the art world’s most coveted prizes.
The decision came after all four artists wrote a joint letter to the jury asking that the prize be used as a collective statement of ‘commonality and multiplicity’.
It means the nominees, who had claimed their work was ‘incompatible with the competition format’, will now share the £40,000 prize money among themselves.
The outcome drew a mixed reaction, with many viewers lambasting it for turning the prize into a ‘participation event’, as others praised it as a ‘beautiful statement’.
Film critic Guy Lodge said: ‘I know it sounds all very nice and progressive, but the fact is that four artists successfully managed to all get themselves named Turner Prize winners, with all the career benefits that come with that.
Tai Shani, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Oscar Murillo are pictured together after being announced as the joint-winners for the 2019 Turner Prize
The outcome drew a mixed reaction, with many viewers lambasting it for turning the prize into a ‘participation event’, as others praised it as a ‘beautiful statement’
‘If it’s about solidarity with artists, jointly reject the award!’
Art critic Andrew Russeth added: ‘Back in my day, artists would kill for the Turner Prize. Literally kill! They’d lie, cheat, and steal. Bribe judges? Sure.
‘Sabotage a competitor’s intricate installation? No big deal. Now it’s just a bunch of millennial artists asking for a participation trophy!’
British Vogue editor Edward Enninful gasped when he opened the envelope to reveal the winner at Dreamland Margate amusement park in Kent.
The news was revealed live on television at a glamorous event at Dreamland Margate amusement park in Kent.
Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the Turner Prize jury, said: ‘In coming together and presenting themselves as a group, this year’s nominated artists certainly gave the jury a lot to think about.
Oscar Murillo’s work, titled collective conscience, onboard a Southeastern train from London St Pancras
Pictured: Tai Shani’s entree for the Turner Prize 2019, the winner of which was announced this evening
Lawrence Hamdan’s work (pictured) has also won the Turner Prize 2019
Pictured: Helen Cammock’s piece that has won the Turner Prize
‘But it is very much in the spirit of these artists’ work to challenge convention, to resist polarised world views, and to champion other voices.
‘The jury all felt that this made the collective a worthy winner of the Turner Prize.’
The four artists’ work has been on display at the Turner Contemporary gallery on Margate seafront since September 28.
Oscar Murillo’s paper mache figures are said to represent a mobile and globalised workforce, and the hay-stuffed models have links to a New Year’s Eve tradition in the 33-year-old’s homeland of Colombia.
Beirut-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, 34, is renowned for his work using sound effects to explore society as people perceive it.
His work features a glimpse inside Saydanya, a prison in Syria where inmates suffered torture.
Online reaction was mixed after the Turner Prize has shared among the four finalists for the first time ever last night
Helen Cammock, 49, looks at the role of women in the civil rights movement that began in Northern Ireland in 1968, including Derry.
Tai Shani’s ‘DC:Semiramis’ feminist science fiction work depicts an alternative reality in which the 43-year-old explores dark and fantastical worlds.
In their joint letter to the jury, the four artists wrote: ‘At this time of political crisis in Britain and much of the world, when there is already so much that divides and isolates people and communities, we feel strongly motivated to use the occasion of the Prize to make a collective statement in the name of commonality, multiplicity and solidarity – in art as in society.’
Jurors praised them for their commitment to the collective power of art, and said the decision was ‘unanimous’.
The jury said in advance of the announcement: ‘Their symbolic act reflects the political and social poetics that we admire and value in their work.’
The decision to split the award among all the nominees was criticised by some on social media, while others praised it as a ‘beautiful statement’
One of the best-known prizes for the visual arts in the world, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art.
Established in 1984, the prize is named after painter JMW Turner and is awarded to an artist born or based in the UK for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the past twelve months.
The 2019 edition is the first time the venue for the exhibition, outside of London, has had a direct connection with JMW Turner.
Turner Contemporary stands on the site of the artist’s lodging house and enjoys views of the skies that Turner felt were ‘the loveliest in all Europe’.
Since opening in 2011, Turner Contemporary in Margate has generated more than £70 million for the local economy, led to the opening of over 150 new businesses and attracted over 3.3 million visits.
Pictured left to right: Oscar Murillo, Tai Shani, Helen Cammock and Lawrence Abu Hamdan. It is the first time in the history of the Turner Prize that the award has been shared between all the shortlisted nominees