The 2021 shortlist consisted only of collectives, many of which worked with communities in ways that felt more like education or outreach than what some people call art.
The prize also became more aware of its past limitations, prejudices and oversights. Lubaina Himid, aged 62, was named winner in 2017, after the Turner prize age cap was dropped. In 2022 it was Veronica Ryan, aged 66. Ingrid Pollard, aged 69, was also shortlisted in 2022.
All three had been active since the 1980s, making work that engaged, often playfully and poetically, with colonialism and racism and identity. None of them featured in shortlists from the 1980s or 1990s or 2000s.
The 2023 shortlisted artists share a concern with the experience of hostile, exhausting and strangely fragile systems: the late-capitalist demand to be constantly productive while continually undervalued, the absurd cruelty of bureaucratic governance and the precarity of climates and bodies.
A lot of their art is about the effort to stay afloat or even just to cope. By implication, the work conveys something about the failure of institutions to provide either basic support or transformative change. Hope is found instead in a politics of community and care, vulnerability and interconnection, which offers occasional glimpses of better worlds.
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