After its 2013 city break in Derry-Londonderry, the Turner Prize is back where it belongs at Tate Britain for its thirtieth anniversary. Hooray! Don’t crack open the Lambrini just yet, though, because the 2014 TP shortlist is noticeably short on celebration and long on circuitous rambles through visual culture that touch on trusty art themes of authorship, censorship, voyeurism and power. The biggest prize in contemporary art is showing that it means business and 2014 will go down as the year the Turner Prize got serious. Here’s what we make of the nominees….
Duncan Campbell (above)
Known for: Films that weave together fact and fiction – subjects have included the history of German monetary union and the rise and fall of American car designer John DeLorean. He’s nominated for ‘It for Others’, which was shown at last year’s Venice Biennale and features African masks and contemporary dance (courtesy of Michael Clark) in an exploration of colonialist power.
We say: Take a cushion – Campbell doesn’t do shorts. But there are moments of impressionist beauty in his splicings that reveal a lithe, expansive approach to the mercurial past. He’s the obvious frontrunner at this stage of the race.
Known for: Plundering YouTube and using footage on VHS tapes found in charity shops. He’s nominated for ‘Rosebud’ a film (also shown last year in Venice) based around censored images (including Robert Mapplethorpe photos with scratched out erections) found in books in a Tokyo library.
We say: At his best, Richards brings a sensual touch to fragmentary material. The youngest of the four artists (he was born in 1983) could triumph if he pitches his Turner Prize show right.
Known for: Densely packed, semi-improvised performances and installations that often lead the viewer to scenes from the artist’s past or on quests for obscure cultural figures. He’s nominated for a solo show in Berlin.
We say: Compellingly unreliable storytelling that’s best experienced in the flesh. Let’s hope he does some live performances during the exhibition run.
Known for: Printmaking projects that involve local communities to create posters, prints, banners and textiles, often with a socio-political edge. She’s nominated for her 2013 exhibition at the Showroom in London, which brought the iconography of radical print collectives to north London.
We say: Phillips provides a much-needed dose of colour in an otherwise fairly monochrome shortlist. There’s even an outside chance you could find yourself making work for her Turner Prize show. The people’s choice, for sure.
The Turner Prize 2014 is at Tate Britain, Sep 30 to Jan 4 2015. The winner of the £25,000 first prize is announced on Dec 1.