Turner Prize nod for housing estate
Published 12/05/2015 | 11:51
A red-brick terraced housing estate in inner-city Liverpool has been shortlisted for this year's Turner Prize.
The famous art prize, now in its 31st year, has a reputation for controversy with previous winners including Martin Creed's light going on and off and Grayson Perry's pots tackling subjects like death and child abuse.
Now the work by a London-based collective, Assemble, to transform the run-down Toxteth estate - Granby Four Streets - is in the running for the annual award.
The houses, built in around 1900, fell into disrepair after the local council snapped up many of the properties following the Toxteth riots in 1981.
Residents fought plans for demolition and battled to save the houses, cleaning and planting the streets, painting the empty houses and organised a monthly market.
Assemble - a loose-knit collective of around 16 people under 30, were invited by the locals to help them regenerate the housing and public spaces "from the ground up" and "make it a place people actually want to live in."
Juror Alistair Hudson said that the estate had been "left decimated" and had become "a no-go zone" before some of its residents, inspired by the guerrilla gardening movement, formed an action group.
He said of Assemble: "They don't occupy the realm of the single genius solitary artist. This is collective activity working within society, not in the hierarchical structure of the art world.
"It's not about making art forms ...but about changing the way the world works, making the world a better place...making life more artful."
He added: "In the age when anything can be art, why not have a housing estate?"
Many of the houses on the "classic red brick Liverpool housing estate" are still empty with the Turner Prize judges saying that the work is an "ongoing collaboration".
Assemble share a studio in London and "operate like a Modernist collective from the 1930s.
"They have lunch every day around the table to discuss projects and they couldn't accept the nomination until all had accepted", Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis said.
Their other projects include the Baltic Street Adventure Playground in Glasgow, where children can embrace "both creativity and destruction".
The other three shortlisted names - all London-based - include Bonnie Camplin, 44, whose work includes a study room " drawing from physics, philosophy, psychology, witchcraft, quantum theory and warfare" on issues around mental health.
"She's interested in what makes the consensus in society, in particular in relation to mental health...she's actually trying to do something about it, she's trying to change things," Mr Hudson said.
"She lives it. She's not doing it to make an art work. She's using art to make something happen around this issue."
Janice Kerbel, 45, is n ominated for her operatic performance work Doug.
Her other works include Bank Job (1999) a detailed plan for a bank robbery of the private bank Coutts and Ballgame (2009) an audio recording of a play-by-play announcement of a baseball game.
Nicole Wermers , 43, makes sculptures "resembling the banal design features associated with transient places such as the corporate lobby, sterile shop space or airport lounge".
Her work exposes "the way that we as a society..have been reduced to making judgments on commercial aesthetics".
Mr Hudson said of the shortlisted works: "The most interesting things going on in the art world now are addressing real situations and trying to take part in the world...this is a generation of artists who are looking beyond the normal conventions."
The juror, who is director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, added: "We need to move away from the idea where something is art or not art...there's a whole spectrum of creative behaviour..."
He said that artists were "working away from the art is entertainment model," adding: "It's very positive for the future of art...they're trying to do something rather than represent something..
"You can have David Hockney and Grayson Perry and they're all artists who care about things as well but it is working in a different way...the world is changing.
"They are pushing against the walls of what we expect art and exhibition making to be.... they're all responding to current urgencies, very much to the here and now."
Awarded to a British artist under 50 for an exhibition or presentation of their work, the Turner Prize gives £25,000 to the winner and £5,000 to the other shortlisted artists.
The artists will exhibit their work at the Tramway, in Glasgow, before the winner is announced on December 7.
Ms Curtis said that the prize had "lost some of its sensational aspects" and "become more serious" in recent years.
She admitted that staging work by the shortlisted artists could be tricky.
"It won't necessarily be an easy show to stage because how do you represent an architectural process such as Assemble's? How do you recreate an opera? ....Tramway will have some challenges."