Goldsmiths alumnus joint-winner of Turner Prize 2019

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Goldsmiths, University of London PhD graduate and Forensic Architecture Research Fellow Lawrence Abu Hamdan has been named joint-winner of this year's Turner Prize.

Walled Unwalled at Tate Modern, 2018

The win for Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani was announced at a ceremony in Margate on Tuesday 3 December, broadcast live on the BBC. 

Abu Hamdan's success follows Goldsmiths-based research agency Forensic Architecture’s Turner Prize 2018 nomination for exhibitions demonstrating innovative methods of sourcing and visualising evidence relating to global human rights abuses. 

This is the first time in the Turner Prize's 35-year history that it has been split between nominees. The artists, who had not met each other before they were shortlisted, asked judges to recognise "commonality, multiplicity and solidarity" instead of choosing a single winner. They will each get a quarter share of the £40,000 prize.

Speaking after the ceremony, Abu Hamdan said: “This time it seemed to be that there was a cohesion around a political approach more than an aesthetic practice.

“The other reason is that we genuinely didn’t feel like in the nature of the works we make the competition format worked because it would pit prescience over the contribution that we make as artists.”

The judges said: "We are honoured to be supporting this bold statement of solidarity and collaboration in these divided times. Their symbolic act reflects the political and social poetics that we admire and value in their work.”

Abu Hamdan is a London-based artist and researcher who completed his MA and PhD in Research Architecture within the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths in 2017. As a self-proclaimed ‘private ear’ he explores the legal status of the voice through audio investigations.

His work for Forensic Architecture has been used as evidence at the UK Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and as advocacy for organisations such as Amnesty International and Defence for Children International.

The Turner Prize nomination was for the solo exhibition Earwitness Theatre at Chisenhale, the video installation Walled Unwalled and the performance After SFX at Tate Modern, London.

Recent solo exhibitions include The Freedom of Speech Itself (2012) at The Showroom, London, Aural Contract: The Whole Truth (2012) at Casco, Utrecht, and Tape Echo (2013) at Beirut in Cairo. He is the winner of numerous art and film prizes, including the Tiger short film award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival 2017. Solo exhibitions are currently running at Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin, Germany), the Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Beirut, Lebanon) and the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane, Australia).

The Turner Prize jury was struck by Abu Hamdan’s exploration of sound as an architectural element and the way he recreates particular situations through sound and performance.

(Lawrence Abu Hamdan by Miro Kuzmanovic)

The shortlisted artists' works feature in an exhibition at Turner Contemporary, Margate, which will run until 12 January 2020.

In a review of the exhibition earlier this year, Guardian critic Adrian Searle said: “Abu Hamdan’s art opens up a world to us, and makes us encounter it and begin to perceive it differently.” 

Joint-winner Helen Cammock was nominated for her film commemorating the role of women at the start of the Northern Irish troubles in the late 1960s. She is currently working alongside researchers from Goldsmiths’ Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies as part of the New Town Culture initiativeThis pioneering programme - a partnership between the Mayor of London, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Goldsmiths, the Serpentine Galleries and the Foundling Museum - brings together social workers, local residents and renowned artists with the aim of embedding cultural activity within core social care practice. Cammock, a former social worker herself, has been commissioned by the Serpentine Galleries to work on the programme.

Social work lecturers Tom Henri and Rachel Hughes and Professors Chris Baker and Adam Dinham are providing research and evaluation support, as well as leading on the developing of training and continuing professional development tools to help social workers make use of artistic concepts and practices in their work. Find out more here.

One of the best-known prizes for the visual arts in the world, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. The prize is named after JMW Turner (1775-1851) and is awarded to a British artist for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the past twelve months. The Turner Prize award is £40,000 with £25,000 going to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists.

Abu Hamdan’s win means that nine Goldsmiths graduates or members of staff have won the Turner Prize since the award was launched in 1984, including Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and last year’s winner Charlotte Prodger.

Forensic Architecture is based in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths. MA Research Architecture students can choose to specialise with a studio placement with the Research Architecture Studio or Forensic Architecture Studio.