Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Turner Prize 2019: Jordanian artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan among four winners

All four nominees decided to share the prize for the first time in its 35-year history

Tai Shani, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, and Oscar Murillo pose for a photograph after being announced as the joint winners of Turner Prize 2019. EPA
Tai Shani, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, and Oscar Murillo pose for a photograph after being announced as the joint winners of Turner Prize 2019. EPA

A Jordanian artist is among the winners of the 2019 Turner Prize, the prestigious contemporary art accolade named after the esteemed English painter.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan was one of four winners of the award, which was presented in Dreamland, a concert venue and fairground in Margate in the south-east of England on Tuesday night.

For the first time in the Turner Prize's 35-year history, the four nominees were all given the award after they wrote to the judges to ask if they could share it, to send a message of unity in troubled political times.

Presenting the prize, Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue magazine called the decision "incredible".

The nominees said thy wanted to show unity in divided times. Getty Images
The nominees said thy wanted to show unity in divided times. Getty Images

Joining Abu Hamdan in winning the award were Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani.

Abu Hamdan was nominated for the award for his audio visual installation recreating the noise inside of a notorious Syrian prison Saydanya, where inmates have been tortured.

The Beirut artist calls himself a "private ear", because of his interest in sounds and how they interact with politics. He previously worked as a musician.

Briton Shani entered a feminist science fiction work, while Colombian Murrillo was nominated for his papier mache figures inspired on his homeland’s tradition of burning models on New Year’s Eve.

British Cammock made a film that explored the female role in the civil rights movement that originated in Northern Ireland in 1968.

“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,” the four artists said in a statement.

They will split the £40,000 prize money from Britain’s most high-profile award for contemporary art, which is given to artists who were born or work in Britain.

The four told the jury: “We are writing to you as the Turner Prize Nominees 2019.

“After a number of discussions, we have come to a collective view that we would like to be considered together for this year’s award.

"We are therefore writing to request that you as the jury might consider awarding the Prize to the four of us collectively and not to any of us individually.

"We hope that you will both understand and honour the position we have arrived at.

“This year, you have selected a group of artists who, perhaps more than ever before in the Prize’s history, are all engaged in forms of social or participatory practice.

"More specifically, each of us makes art about social and political issues and contexts we believe are of great importance and urgency.

“The politics we deal with differ greatly, and for us it would feel problematic if they were pitted against each other, with the implication that one was more important, significant or more worthy of attention than the others.

“None us has met each other prior to the Turner Prize, however on our initial meeting in Margate, we quickly recognised the underlying shared ethos that runs across our otherwise very different practices.”

The seaside town where the ceremony took place has a rich artistic history and is the home of Tracey Emin, who famously nearly won the award for her piece My Bed in 1999.

The artwork consisted of Emin's bed with bedroom objects in abject states. It received wide media attention.

Margate also has the Turner Contemporary Gallery on its promenade, which Emin helped open in 2012.

Updated: December 4, 2019 12:35 PM

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