Helen Marten has been awarded the 2016 Turner Prize, as announced at Tate Britain, London, earlier this week. One of the best-known projects for the visual arts in the world, the award promotes international public debate surrounding advancements in the contemporary industry. The £25,000 reward was presented by author Ben Okri, with a further £5,000 for each of the shortlisted artists, Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton and Josephine Pryde, who were also praised for the strength and diversity of their practice.
The 2016 jury consisted of Michelle Cotton, Tamsin Dillion, Beatrix Ruf and Simon Wallis, chaired by the Director of Tate Britain Alex Farquharson. It was projects such as Marten’s Lunar Nibs (2015) at the 56th Venice Biennale, and the solo exhibition Eucalyptus Let Us In (2016) from Green Naftali in New York, that distinguished the artist from those shortlisted. The extraordinary range of materials and form, alongside potent reflections of the complexities and challenges of the contemporary world, made the pieces an exceptional contribution to visual art.
Marten uses sculpture, screen printing and text to create multidisciplinary installations full of both historical and contemporary references. The work which highlighted her as the winner of the prize comprised a wide assortment of everyday, handmade and found items, such as coins, limes and marbles, drawn from daily life to comment on society. Combining practices to produce a collage-like result, each object had a playful intent, inviting viewers into poetic visual puzzles. The use of the quotidian encourages visitors to reconsider the images that surround them, displacing the familiar and remodelling it for new and unexpected narratives.
The Prize, established in 1984 by the Patrons of New Art, is awarded to a British artist under 50 years of age for their work in the preceding year, for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation. Previous recipients of the award include Mark Wallinger, Damien Hirst, Steve McQueen, Tony Cragg, Martin Creed, Elizabeth Price and the 2015 winners Assemble.
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1. Helen Marten Lunar Nibs (2016). Courtesy of the artist and Tate Britain.