The group were praised by judges at the ceremony at Coventry Cathedral for their ability to translate their activism and values into the gallery environment. For the exhibition at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, they presented The Druithaib’s Ball, an imagined síbín (a ‘pub without permission’) described as a ‘place to gather outside the sectarian divides that have dominated the collective memory of the North of Ireland for the last hundred years’.
On receiving the award, Stephan Miller from Array Collective said:
“We are so proud to be from Belfast, to be of Belfast and the communities we work with…The Síbín was for everyone of Belfast but it’s also for all the collectives in this room. We see you we support you. We are with you.”
Array Collective were part of Jerwood Arts major group exhibition Jerwood Collaborate! curated by Harriet Cooper, Head of Visual Arts, in 2019. The exhibition presented new commissions by artists working in collaborative and collective practices across the UK, also including Keiken + George Jasper Stone, Languid Hands and Shy Bairns. It responded to research about the challenges faced by early-career artists working in collaboration, creating a dedicated high-profile platform to support this method of artistic practice and contribute to critical dialogues in the visual arts sector.
For Jerwood Collaborate! Array Collective created a large-scale installation called As Others See Us which centred on three fictional characters drawn from pre-Christian myths and folklore of ancient Ireland to consider the contemporary anxieties and fixations that preoccupy Northern Ireland today. Their performance of these characters in Belfast and London was documented through film, photography, text and textiles; leading visitors to a dedicated archive and resource space that reflected historic and current activism around LGBTQ+ rights, feminisms and anti-colonialism. Their symposium If you don’t play the game, don’t make the rules expanded on this collective research, opening the conversation to artists and activists to directly respond to the issues affecting Northern Ireland and its possible future scenarios.
This is the first time that the Turner Prize shortlist is made up entirely of artist collectives, also including: Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.), Cooking Sections, Gentle/Radical and Project Art Works. An exhibition of work by all five groups continues until 12 January at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. The judging panel for the 2021 prize is actor Russell Tovey; Aaron Cezar, the Director of the Delfina Foundation in London; Kim McAleese, the Programme Director of Grand Union in Birmingham; and Zoé Whitley, the Director of the Chisenhale Gallery in London.
Find out more:
Read about Jerwood Collaborate! here
Watch If you don’t play the game, don’t make the rules here
Find out more about Array Collective here
Visit the Turner Prize 2021 website here