6th November 2023
As autumn talent show season shuttles ever onwards (we see you, Strictly!), why not try out the judges’ job by heading down to the Turner Prize 2022 exhibition at Tate Liverpool?
There, beneath a sign encouraging you to ‘GET INVOLVED’ you’ll find a potful of shiny plastic discs, alongside Perspex boxes marked with the names ‘HEATHER PHILLIPSON’, ‘INGRID POLLARD’, ‘VERONICA RYAN’ and ‘SIN WAI KIN’.
This awesome foursome comprises the nominees for this year’s Turner Prize, Britain’s most prestigious award for contemporary visual artists. Simply add your token to the box corresponding to your favourite, then sit back and see how your fave fares at the live-streamed Turner Prize awards ceremony, to be held in Liverpool’s St. George’s Hall on 7 December.
For this year, after 15 years away, the Prize returns Mersey-side, with Tate Liverpool hosting a range of Turner Prize-related events, as well as the artists’ gallery offerings themselves. As Helen Legg, director of Tate Liverpool and co-chair of the professional panel says, these offerings, “combine to create a fascinating and vibrant exhibition” – and, for the first time since 2007, it’s all on your doorstep!
In order to souse out just who to vote for, I headed down to the Docks then up to Tate Liverpool’s fourth floor (though never fear: there are lifts). There, I found the contributions of the creative quartet spread across six rooms, in order to fully showcase the range of pieces exhibited. With the first room offering an exclusive, interdisciplinary insight into the inspirations behind the work of Phillipson, Pollard, Ryan and Wai Kin (including glass-fronted display cases of ‘books that have inspired me’), the exhibition proper begins with Heather Phillipson’s submission in the next room.
This mesmerising, multi-sensory and multi-modal installation is entitled Rupture No. 6: biting the blowtorched peach (2022), which Welsh-trained and London-based artist Phillipson adapted from her earlier commission for Tate Britain. Much like being catapulted onto a Hollywood movie set, this piece integrates fluorescent lighting, metallic sculpture and sci-fi-style film footage. Phillipson describes the piece as a series of, “quantum thought experiments”. With its surreal corridor of blinking animal-eye screens – converting you from a viewer into the viewed – it’s hard to know who is a predator and who is the prey.
Born in Montserrat, Veronica Ryan studied in Britain throughout the 1970s and 1980s and currently divides her time between New York and Bristol. It was in the latter city, during an extended residency at Spike Island, that she produced this selection.
Several of these incorporate found objects, a timely comment upon society’s culture of consumerism and the climate crisis; this includes Infection I (2021), an amalgam of clay, thread, cable ties and a metal locker shelf. Elsewhere around the room’s perimeter is detritus from the Covid-19 pandemic – CPAP medical pillows, bandages, masks – reconfigured from PPE to ART as a comment upon, in the artist’s words, the “psychological resonances” of traumatic experiences.
Following Ryan are a trio of adjoining rooms showcasing the submissions of Canada-born and London-based Sin Wai Kin. With a Twitter handle of @SinforVictory, the non-binary artist certainly wears their heart on their sleeve and in a bid for victory at this year’s Turner Prize, proffers a mixed-media assortment of artworks, each interrogating the concept of identity. This covers everything from intricately-patterned wallpaper (It’s Always You (Step and Repeat) ), to display cases of synthetic wigs (The Universe’s Ornaments ), to a triptych of makeup-encrusted facial wipes (below).
Last (but by no means least) is the artwork courtesy of final nominee Ingrid Pollard. The Guyanese-born artist and photographer also alludes to the constructed nature of identity; Seventeen of Sixty-Eight (2019) uses bricolage in interconnected artworks to interrogate the figure of ‘the African’ in literature and ephemera, while DENY: IMAGINE: ATTACK: SILENCE (1991/2019) critiques the pigeonholing of women in contemporary society.
With a couple of weeks to go until the Turner Prize jury selects this year’s victor, there’s still plenty of time to place your bet (via Perspex box) on your preferred prizewinner. Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Phillipson on December 7th, hoping that Rupture No. 6: biting the blowtorched peach will enjoy the sweet taste of success. It’s the (animal) eyes that have it, in my opinion – but what’s yours? Pop along to Tate Liverpool and you be the judge!
Featured image credit: Matt Greenwood