Glasgow-based Charlotte Prodger has won the 2018 Turner Prize, Britain’s most prestigious award for art, for her autobiographical video work questioning gender and identity, shot on an iPhone.
The judges said they admired “the painterly quality” and references to art history in Prodger’s 33-minute double-channel video work “BRIDGIT/Stoneymollan Trail” in a solo exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall, in Norway, last year.
They praised Prodger for “the nuanced way in which she deals with identity politics, particularly from a queer perspective.”
“Using a range of technologies from old camcorders to iPhones, Prodger’s films build a complex narrative exploring relationships between queer bodies, landscape, language, technology and time,” the judges said.
Accepting the award at a ceremony at the Tate Britain in London, the 44-year-old artist said she felt “quite overwhelmed.”
“I feel very surprised and very touched,” she added.
“It’s an honour but I would like my life to carry on as normal,” Prodger told the BBC following the live ceremony.
She beat three other shortlisted artists to take the 34th annual prize, which is Britain’s most prestigious award for art and worth 25,000 pounds (32,000 dollars) to the winner.
Prodger was born in Bournemouth in southern England in 1974.
She lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, where she completed much of her higher education and artistic development.
“I wouldn’t be in this room were it not for the public funding I received from Scotland,” Prodger said.
She studied at London’s Goldsmiths and the Glasgow School of Art.
In addition to Bergen, Prodger has held recent solo exhibitions in New York, London, Duesseldorf, Bristol and Glasgow.
“BRIDGIT” takes its name from a Neolithic deity and was shot entirely on Prodger’s iPhone, while “Stoneymollan Trail” echoes an ancient “coffin road” on Scotland’s west coast.
“BRIDGIT,” filmed over a year, is Prodger’s most autobiographical work.
It includes shots of the Scottish countryside and sounds from her environment, with narration by her and her friends, including extracts from her diaries and from books by figures from “queer history.”
“I shot [it] on my phone,” Prodger said in a video interview for Tate Britain ahead of the award ceremony.
“It becomes very material, almost sculptural, this object, my phone,” she said.
“So you can flip it mid-shot. Your fingers get in the shot; they’re fleshy, they’re right here when they’re on the screen,” Prodger said.
“And you can see the blood inside your finger if you cover the tiny lens.”
The Turner Prize, first awarded in 1984, used to recognize an artist under 50, born, living or working in Britain, for “an outstanding exhibition or public presentation of their work” in the previous year.
The organizers last year lifted the age barrier to reflect the view that artists can reach their peak at any age.
The change allowed Tanzanian-born artist and professor of contemporary art Lubaina Himid, now 64, to become the oldest winner of the prize in 2017, for works questioning the representation of black people in art.