Belfast’s Activist Array Collective Wins Britain’s Turner Prize

December 02, 2021

Belfast’s eleven-member Array Collective, whose work centers around issues such as abortion rights, queer liberation, and social welfare, was named the winner of Britain’s Turner Prize at a December 1 ceremony taking place at London’s Coventry Cathedral and administered by Tate museums. The prize, awarded annually to a UK visual and considered one of the world’s most prestigious, includes a $33,000 stipend.

This year marked the first time since the prize’s 1984 founding that all shortlisted nominees were collectives. The other four groups elected—all with a social-activist bent—were London’s Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S), a QTIBPOC (queer, trans and intersex black and people of color) assembly blending sound, art, and activism; London duo Cooking Section, whose art and activism center on food; Gentle/Radical, out of Cardiff, Wales, who take the marginal and the local as their themes; and Project Art Works, a neurodiverse collective from Hasting, East Sussex. Shortly after being nominated, B.O.S.S. publicly called out Tate for what it termed “exploitative practices” relating to the “lack of adequate financial remuneration for collectives in commissioning budgets and artist fees, and in the industry’s in-built reverence for individual inspiration over the diffusion, complexity and opacity of collaborative endeavour.”

The Turner Prize was last awarded in 2019. That year, to show solidarity in the face of widespread political unrest, the four nominees—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, and Tai Shani—asked for the funds to be equally split among them.This year’s iteration of the prize  had been hotly anticipated in the wake of the Covid-19-related cancellation of last year’s award. An exhibition featuring the work of all five collectives is on view through January 12, 2022 at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in London.