Assemble - a collective of about 16 artists, architects and designers aged under 30 - clinched the prestigious £25,000 award for their work Granby Four Streets, that helped locals on the Toxteth estate transform their neighbourhood.
The London-based group were invited to help revive a patch of the south Liverpool neighbourhood “from the ground up” by residents fighting plans to demolish a number of houses in the area.
Assemble’s win signifies a larger move away from the gallery into public space that is becoming ever more privatised. It shows a revulsion for the excesses of the art market, and a turn away from the creation of objects for that market. Their structure that was on show at this year’s Turner exhibition must be seen not as a work, but as a model of work that takes place elsewhere; not in the art world, but the world itself.
I am unsurprised that Assemble have won, given that one of the current Turner judges, Alistair Hudson, director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), views his museum as a service to the community, a facility rather than a place where big-shot artists have major shows. How good is Assemble’s work? It is full of invention and ingenuity. It has purpose. What they are not doing is following a familiar artistic career pattern. It is art if they say so, and I don’t care if it is art or not. Winning the Turner prize is a vindication of their work.