Array Collective Wins Turner Prize 2021 for Irish Speakeasy
The prize-winning work aims to make space to discuss highly politicised issues without animosity.
Array Collective, The Druithaib's Ball (2021). Installation view. Photo: David Levene. Courtesy Tate.
Northern Ireland's Array Collective was awarded the 2021 Turner Prize in a ceremony at Coventry Cathedral last night.
Rooted in Belfast, the group's 11 artists have been collaborating since 2016. Their winning work, The Druithaib's Ball (2021), is modelled on unlicensed Irish drinking holes known as síbín.
Approached through a circle of flag poles that reference ancient Irish ceremonial sites, and suggest stripper poles, the síbín is decorated with posters and ceiling banners advocating for peace, laughter, and reproductive rights, and denouncing conversion therapy.
Footage of an earlier iteration of the work, a wake held in Belfast for the centenary of Ireland's partition, plays on a projector.
In their approach to highly politicised issues, the artists 'bring a sense of humour, pleasure, joy, hope and hospitality—often through absurdism, camp, theatre—to an otherwise very tense situation,' said Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain and chair of the judges, to The Guardian.
Array Collective beat four other collectives to win the £25,000 prize. Fellow nominees Black Obsidian Sound System, Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical, and Project Art Works will each receive £10,000.
Accepting the award, Array Collective's Laura O'Connor said the prize competition had motivated the group over lockdown.
'I think we surprised ourselves with what we came out with in the end and we are so proud of it,' she said.
The collective said the prize money would go towards rent for their Belfast studio.
The Turner Prize 2021 exhibition continues at Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry until 12 January 2022. —[O]