Turner Prize 2021 shortlist: a full house of artist collectives

Comprising Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical, and Project Art Works, 2021 marks the first year the Turner Prize jury has selected a shortlist consisting entirely of artist collectives

Turner Prize 2021: Cooking Sections, Salmon A Red Herring, 2020. Photography © Tate, Lucy Dawkins
Cooking Sections, Salmon A Red Herring, 2020.
(Image credit: Tate, Lucy Dawkins)

The last year has been far from business as usual, so it would only be fitting for the Turner Prize, one of the UK’s leading catalysts for radical art, to follow suit. Tate Britain has just unveiled the shortlist for the 2021 Turner Prize, and for the first time in history, it’s entirely comprised of artist collectives. 

The shortlist includes Array Collective, Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical, and Project Art Works. The common thread in each of the collective’s work is social change, with each nominee working closely and continuously with communities across the UK. The collaborative practices selected also reflect the solidarity and community demonstrated in response to the Covid-19 crisis

Turner prize 2021 - Array Collective, Pride 2019. Photography: Laura O'Connor

Array Collective, Pride 2019. 

(Image credit: Laura O'Connor)

An exhibition of their work will be held at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry from 29 September 2021 - 12 January 2022 as part of the UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations. The winner will be announced on 1 December 2021 at an award ceremony at Coventry Cathedral and will be broadcast on the BBC. 

Despite the common emphasis on social change, the focus of each group is wide-ranging. Through collaborative performances, protests, exhibitions and events, the work of Belfast-based artists Array Collective confronts ongoing issues affecting Northern Ireland. London-based collective Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) works across art, sound and radical activism. Formed by and for QTIBPOC (Queer, Trans and Intersex Black and People of Colour), B.O.S.S. challenges the prevalent norms of sound-system culture across the African diaspora. 

Turner Prize 2021 - B.O.S.S. at Somerset House, 2019, Photo credit:  B.O.S.S.

B.O.S.S. at Somerset House, 2019, Photo credit:  B.O.S.S.

(Image credit: B.O.S.S.)

Cooking Sections is a London-based duo delving into systems that organise the world through food, culminating in installation, performance and video work. With a focus at a local level, Cardiff-based Gentle/Radical is a project led by artists, community workers, performers, faith practitioners, writers and others, advocating for art as a tool for social change. Project Art Works explores art through collaborative practice with, for and by neurominorities and disseminates their work through exhibitions, events, films and digital platforms. 

This year, the Turner Prize 2021 jury consisted of Aaron Cezar, director, Delfina Foundation; Kim McAleese, programme director, Grand Union; Russell Tovey, actor; and Zoé Whitley, director, Chisenhale Gallery. 

Alex Farquharson, director of Tate Britain and chair of the Turner Prize jury, commented: ‘One of the great joys of the Turner Prize is the way it captures and reflects the mood of the moment in contemporary British art. After a year of lockdowns when very few artists have been able to exhibit publicly, the jury has selected five outstanding collectives whose work has not only continued through the pandemic but become even more relevant as a result.’ 

Turner Prize 2021 - Project Art Works, Siddharth-Gadiyar, Phoenix Art Space, 2019

Project Art Works, Siddharth-Gadiyar, Phoenix Art Space, 2019. 

(Image credit: ©Project Art Works)

Turner prize 2021 - HERBERT museum COVENTRY

The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry, which will host the 2021 Turner Prize exhibition

(Image credit: press)



Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.