Charlotte Prodger Wins the 2018 Turner Prize With a Poetic iPhone Video About Gender Identity, Landscape, and Mythology

The Scottish artist has taken home the top British art prize with her deeply felt work melding her native landscapes with her queer identity.

Charlotte Prodger. Photo: ©Emile Holba 2018.

The Glasgow-based artist Charlotte Prodger has won the 2018 Turner Prize, impressing the judges with films that explore queer identity through the lens of the natural landscape.

Prodger, who will represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale, works with the moving image, as do all of this year’s shortlisted artists and collectives. Unlike the others, however, she eschews high production values—or archive-culling—typically shooting on her iPhone and making films that have a highly personal, lyrical quality.

For BRIDGIT (2016), she used her smart phone, the lengths of the segments of the 32-minute film being determined by its storage capacity. Prodger’s reflections on mythology and philosophy are laid over images of the rugged Aberdeenshire countryside.

The award ceremony was held today (December 4) at Tate Britain in London, with Tate director Maria Balshaw announcing the winner in a televised address. (Balshaw also took the occasion to also express solidarity with the Cuban artists, including Tania Bruguera, who were detained this week for speaking out against censorship.)

Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT (2015) video still, courtesy of the artist, Koope Astner, and Hollybus Gardens.

By winning the Turner, Prodger will take home £25,000 ($32,000). The runners-up each receive £5,000 ($6,500).

The other nominee oft-touted as a winner, the collective Forensic Architecture, garnered acclaim for their Turner Prize presentation of The Long Duration of a Split Second (2018), a polemical work analyzing footage of a fatal raid by Israeli police on a Bedouin village. Luke Willis Thompson also tackled traumatic recent events, including the aftermath of fatal police shootings in the US and UK. Naeem Mohaiemen presented Tripoli Cancelled (2017) and Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), artfully composed documentary reflections on geopolitics 

Charlotte Prodger, BRIDGIT (2016). Single channel video with sound, 32 Minutes. All images courtesy of the artist, Koppe Astner, Glasgow and Hollybush Gardens, London.Video Still.

The jurors of the prize this year were: Lisa LeFeuvre, the executive director of the Holt-Smithson Foundation; Elena Filipovic, the director of the Kunsthalle Basel; Oliver Basciano, the art critic and international editor at ArtReview magazine; and Tom McCarthy, the novelist and writer. Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain, was the chair of the Turner Prize jury.

Since its establishment in 1985, the Turner Prize has been awarded each year to an artist, born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition or public presentation anywhere in the world in the previous year. Last year, the under-50 age limit for shortlisted artists was lifted, which meant that Lubaina Himid was eligible, enabling her to become the first black female artist to win the Turner Prize. In 2015, Assemble became the first collective to win.

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