01/05/2012 08:02 BST | Updated 01/07/2012 06:12 BST

Woman Called 'Spartacus' And 'A City Occupied By Turds' Head Turner Prize Nominee List

A man who has spent 15 years drawing an imaginary city whose residents are human excrement who have sex in public, and a woman who changed her name to Spartacus have been nominated for this year's Turner Prize.

Spartacus Chetwynd, Paul Noble, Luke Fowler and Elizabeth Price have all been shortlisted for the controversial art award.

Performance artist Chetwynd, 38, who "lives and works in a nudist colony in south London", changed her name from Lali on her 33rd birthday "to remind people they have a choice in life".

"Like my art, my name change annoys people. The moment it stops annoying people, I will rename myself again," she has said.

She puts on puppet performances with a group of friends and family using her own handmade costumes and sets.

Her work includes An Evening With Jabba The Hutt 2003, in which she recast the villain from Return Of The Jedi as a "Stevie Wonder-type smooth operator".

Noble, 48, from London, has been creating detailed drawings of a fictional city, Nobson Newtown, for the last 15 years.

The inhabitants of the partially-ruined city are living excrement, who, in some scenes, engage in orgies.

His work has been described as a parody of an ideal city.

Fowler, 34, from Glasgow, is shortlisted for his film exploring the life and work of Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing.

Price, 45, from London, is in the running for the contemporary art prize for a trilogy of video installations.

The £40,000 Turner Prize sees £25,000 go to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists.

The prize, established in 1984, is given to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the 12 months before April 24 2012.

Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis, who is chair of the jury, said of the shortlist: "They are artists that have brought a kind of slowness of looking, it's not a quick fix.

"None of these works are something that you can get in a few minutes. You have to spend an hour or two to get it, whether it's film, drawing or performance."

The judges said there was a "humanity" running through all the artists' work.

They hailed Noble's art as "a compelling life project" of "incredible, monumental graphite drawings".

His work is an "utterly compelling ongoing narrative" and a "limitless journey of discovery", they said.

The artist takes almost "an omnipresent view" of a "dysfunctional world" in which "people become turds and turds become people".

They described Chetwynd, whose recent exhibition Odd Man Out 2011 took the form of a five-hour play addressing issues of "democracy, the right to vote and the consequences of decision-making", as a "very interesting character" who involves the audience in her work.

"She changed her name in 2007. That seems on the face of it ... a small point.

"But the idea of changing her name to Spartacus ... seems to have liberated her to make this ongoing increasingly diverse form of practice that includes as many people as possible," the judges said.

Fowler, best known for his film portraits of public figures, is said to have an "autobiographical and biographical thread to his work".

Price started to make films four years ago and has a musical background - she co-founded the indie-pop outfit Talulah Gosh.

Judges praised her "powerful body of work over the last three years".