Turner Prize shortlist features roller coaster conveying ‘life’s messy reality’

An artist who has folded a life-size roller coaster into the skeletal shape of a woolly mammoth is among four nominees shortlisted for this year’s Turner Prize.

Oxford-born Jesse Darling’s exhibitions No Medals, No Ribbons at Modern Art Oxford and Enclosures at Camden Art Center were praised for using a range of consumables, building materials, fictional characters and mythic symbols to conjure” the vulnerability of the human body”.

The 41-year-old, who lives in Berlin, also used plastic bags and mobility aids folded into different shapes and scattered on the floor to highlight the “precariousness of power structures” and express the “messy reality of life”.

His work has been praised for “exposing the underlying fragility of the world and refusing to make itself readable and functional to others.”

Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chairman of the Turner Prize judging panel, told the PA news agency: ‘(Jessie) is really pushing the boundaries of that kind of sculptural practice which involves materials and materials becoming images, the use of space that is much more conceptual…but still produces this almost unexpected sense of subordinate humanity, social systems, and particularly as embodied in the structures of the galleries.”

This year’s shortlist also includes Stockholm-born Ghislaine Leung, 42, who was nominated for her exhibition Fountains at Simian, Copenhagen, which involved water pouring into the exhibition space through an opening in the ceiling.

Leung’s work takes the form of scores which are sets of instructions that test the boundaries of the gallery space.

A baby monitor, child safety gates, inflatable structures and toys were also used as part of the exhibition to challenge the way art is produced and disseminated.

View of the fountain installation in Simian, Copenhagen,

Fountains – installation view at Simian, Copenhagen, Denmark (GRAYSC/PA)

Mr Farquharson told the PA: ‘We are not used to baby monitors. You think everything has been done, not that art is a game, but it’s about new approaches.

“These are artists who can offer us an experience of art, its relationship to the world that is new and different despite and thanks to all that has come before.”

Meanwhile artist Rory Pilgrim has been nominated for their commission entitled RAFTS at the Serpentine and Barking Town Hall, and a live performance of the work at London’s Cadogan Hall.

The 35-year-old has worked with local communities in Barking and Dagenham borough to reflect on times of change and struggle during the pandemic, with the work being praised as ‘a stunning example of social practice’.

The RAFTS live performance

RAFTS live performance at London’s Cadogan Hall (Matthew Ritson/PA)

Mr Farquharson told PA: ‘It’s a collaborative performance, it’s a form of social practice and one that invests a lot of time with people in a community.

“A form of social practice that is truly genuinely collaborative, the texts, what is said, what is expressed, comes from individuals who together create a collective representation of a particular community in a time of vulnerability, the pandemic, and produce something of very beautiful and collective and heal from it.

“A concept that is very rich, but humbly, I would say put together, made sensual and beautiful through Rory’s musicianship.”

The shortlist is completed by 58-year-old Barbara Walker for her presentation titled Burden Of Proof at the Sharjah Biennial 15 in which she brings attention to the families impacted by the Windrush scandal.

The exhibition features large-scale charcoal portraits drawn directly onto the gallery wall and eight framed works on paper of people affected by the scandal superimposed on hand-drawn reproductions of identity documents, proof of their right to remain in the UK.

Barbara Walker

Barbara Walker’s Burden of Proof (Barbara Walker/PA)

The Birmingham-born Walker has been praised for her ability to use portraits of a monumental scale to tell stories of an equally monumental nature, whilst “maintaining a deep tenderness and intimacy throughout the scope of her work”.

Mr Farquharson told PA: ‘Barbara’s work is obviously incredibly powerful and poignant, through the traditional form of drawing and portraiture, and really redefining it to speak to not just issues that are hugely important today, tragic realities in the event of the Windrush scandal, but really bringing the specifics of individuals, people, lives affected by it, through the most traditional of techniques, drawn portraiture.

“Part of his practice is drawing directly on walls, and those drawings that literally take time, immense skill, that get erased eventually, almost a loss in a practice that reflects what the work is about, how people can be marginalized because of their identity and injustice”.

The Painter JMW Turner Prize for Contemporary Art is awarded to a British artist for an ‘outstanding exhibition or other presentation of his or her work’.

An exhibition of the selected artists’ work will run from 28 September at Towner Eastbourne until 14 April 2024 as the “centrepiece of the gallery’s centenary programme”.

It is part of Towner 100, the annual centenary celebration of gallery arts and culture across Eastbourne.

The prize winner will receive £25,000, with shortlisted artists receiving £10,000 at an awards ceremony in Eastbourne’s Winter Gardens on 5 December.

Speaking of the Turner Prize finalists, Farquharson added: ‘I think they are all wonderful.

“I think they have such integrity in each of their practices, no shortlist for the Turner Prize can fully represent what’s happening in contemporary art, but between them is a very interesting and wide-ranging snapshot.”

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