When Array, B.O.S.S., Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical and Project Art Works were nominated for the Turner Prize back in May, we were aware of brutal attacks on Gaza at the time. This triggered dialogues among us around how we might address injustices such as the Palestinian struggle. We have taken various routes around this issue as part of our continuing commitment to amplifying multiple issues in our work, art, lives, and in the lives of our communities. Some routes led to internal discussions with Tate, others led to supporting the Palestinian cause in other ways.
Since May, the West’s continuing betrayal of Afghanistan, the UK and Europe’s failure to protect refugee lives, the ongoing call for Black Lives to Matter, the unnecessary loss of life under Covid, the inability of COP26 to decarbonise the global economy… These are just some of the issues we are invested in amplifying.
As collectives, we share values and practices around justice, liberation and anti-oppression; healing, care and reparation; agency, visibility and autonomy; protest and dissent; inclusivity and community. Every collective was nominated for our responses to injustice, we all function within large interwoven systems of inequity, and whilst we cannot avoid these systems, we feel responsible to influence and actively change them. Our various statements are underpinned by a collective solidarity around the urgent need for the work of reparations, in all ways, across many struggles. This work will continue long beyond the Turner Prize. We believe it is the work of our times.
Project Art Works have been honoured to share the Turner Prize nomination process, exhibitions and events with Array, B.O.S.S, Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical. Huge congratulations to the brilliant Array – incredible artists and activists.
We thank the people, funders and collaborators who have helped us in so many ways over the past 25 years and to the communities in Coventry who have embraced the work so fully, and to all the supported studios across the UK including Action Space, IntoArt and Venture Arts.
This moment belongs to you and to everyone in our collective.
It also belongs to the thousands of people who remain held in inappropriate placements within Assessment and Treatment units that confine and keep them apart from their communities.
And to others made vulnerable by precarious and often adversarial systems of care. We stand in solidarity with them, their fortitude and resilience and families, paid and unpaid caregivers and support workers for their invisible work in challenging the multiple barriers to freedom and participation. We grieve for the many lives of disabled people lost during the pandemic.
We hope that the recognition of collective action, artists and activism so clearly articulated in the Turner Prize 2021, represents acceptance of neurodivergent and wider perspectives and stories in life, art and culture. This can only enrich us.
Image: Sharif Persaud, Places that Aren’t Right For Sharif, 2017, pen on paper