The London-based collective Assemble has officially become the first architecture or design studio to be named on the shortlist for the highly coveted and world famous Turner Prize. Assemble is a direct action team of 18 young architects and designers, who were nominated for the UK's most important and respected art award for a series of unique architecture and public realm projects that range from pop-up wooden theatres and sports venues, to makeshift adventure playgrounds and collaborative workplaces. The announcement also marks the first time that a self-professed “Collective” has been nominated for the Turner Prize in its 31-year history.
Assemble has officially become the first architecture or design studio to be named on the shortlist for the world famous Turner Prize
The project that secured Assemble's inclusion on the shortlist is “Granby Four Streets,” a collaboration with the residents of a rundown council housing estate in Toxteth, Liverpool, which saw the team cleaning up the dilapidated neighbourhood, painting empty houses and establishing a thriving local market. They also founded a Community Land Trust, which worked with Assemble and Steinbeck Studios to present a sustainable and incremental vision for the area that built on the hard work already done by local residents. The project is the result of a hard-won, 20-year battle by residents in the area to save the homes from demolition with work that uses low-cost materials and demolition waste to revamp the houses.
Granby Four Streets is a project that encapsulates the Assemble team's ethos, which is to “Address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made,” and to “Champion a working practice that is interdependent and collaborative by actively involving the public as both participants and collaborators in the on-going realisation of the work.” Alistair Hudson, the director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and one of the award judges, said of the project; “In an age when anything can be art, why not have a housing estate?”
Granby Four Streets is a collaboration with the residents of a rundown council housing estate in Toxteth, Liverpool that encapsulates the Assemble team's ethos
Assemble was founded in 2010 when the team first got together to build a temporary cinema in an abandoned petrol station in London's Clerkenwell. All recent university graduates at the time, they followed it up with a temporary canal-side cinema under a motorway flyover, a project that cemented the reputation of the studio. They are currently working on a new gallery for London art college Goldsmiths in a converted bathhouse, and are continuing to work with the Granby Four Streets CLT on the Granby project.
Assemble will be competing against a trio of highly respected females artists for the £25,000 prize, with Bonnie Camplin, Janice Kerbel and Nicole Wermers all up for the award which is awarded annually by Tate gallery to a British artist or group under the age of 50. Camplin was nominated for a project that invites visitors to explore what consensual reality is, Kerbal for an operatic performance work about a character called Doug who experiences nine catastrophic events, and Wermers for a show featuring Marcel Breuer chairs with fur coats sewn into them. The winner will be announced in a ceremony at the Tramway arts venue in Glasgow on the 7th of December 2015 and an exhibition of works by the four shortlisted artists will run from October 1 to January 17, also at the Tramway.
Assemble will be competing against a trio of highly respected females artists for the £25,000 prize; Bonnie Camplin, Janice Kerbel and Nicole Wermers
Penelope Curtis, the soon-to-depart director of Tate Britain who chaired the judging panel, conceded the shortlisted artists for the Turner Prize 2015 were not particular “Easy.” She said: “I think the prize has become more serious. It has lost some of the sensational aspects it had earlier, and that’s good. In the early days one of the aims was to increase the quality of discussion about contemporary art and I think it has, it’s not so simplistic any more. These artists are posing questions that are hard for all of us." Of Assemble, she said that the collective operates “Like a modernist collective from the 1930s.” She added: “They have lunch every day around the table to discuss projects and they couldn't accept the nomination until all had accepted.” We can't decide whether or not all that sounds really cool, or a little bit “Culty.”