In 2015 Assemble controversially won the Turner prize for their Granby Project.
Normally with art people say that it is not useful, but Assembles issue was that it was too useful, was it art?
They formed, mostly from architects during the interim of their degree, and decided that they wanted to make a physical project, not just theoretical. The saw how, due to the economic crash many garages where being shut down. They asked one if they could borrow it for a while, and as no one was developing at the time due to the crash, they were given permission. Thus, their first project was born Cinoreluim.
Through each imputing their own money and a small arts grant they turned the abandoned garage into a cinema. They decide to make it as classic and fancy as they could, but in the cheapest possible ways. There was variation in the quality of what they created but it was all the point of trying. They made instructions and pamphlets on how to create the seating so anybody who wanted could join in. This ethos has continued through most of there projects, little money, lots of hands. It was a real labour of love, and to turn it into a performance, and make it reinforce what they had done, at the end of each screening they lifted the curtains and the audience where instantly transported out of the cinema and back onto a main road.
They formed then a slightly more formal group, but they still debate over how many people are in it, what defines them even after much thought and time. They have no hierarchy; everyone is equal and paid depending on the work they do. I2 people are required to go ahead with a project, and then 50% of payment goes to assemble, the other 50% for wages. The members can pick to have more involved and can also do d completely other jobs. One of the things that they think makes them so successful is that they all come from different walks of life, whilst many are architects there are also historians and English Majors.
The Granby Street project, for which they won the Turner prize, was inspired by the residents of Granby Street. The rest of the area had been demolished and rebuilt, bar 4 streets. The few homeowners left now had worthless houses in a rundown area, the bins were not even collected. Rather than just leave it they transformed the streets into amazing streetscape gardens and had frequent markets on them. Assemble then came and joined in, hating the gentrification and had the support from a social investor.
They worked with the members of the community as well as the issues that the houses had. This led to loft or double height rooms, and one building which was too bad they turned into a garden, inspired by the streetscrapes.
They zhuzhed up areas by reusing old materials, such as rubble and brick, to make fireplaces, tiles and doorknobs. They are DIYers, not professionals so kept it low level entry and homemade looking so that everybody can be involved. It does not have to be perfect.
Throughout the project a sense of community was gained, it highlighted the politics and hierarchy in art. Art is something for people, that you live for, part time social impact to bring about change.
They ask the question ‘where do we see the value in creativity in our society. Does it belong in the gallery or can it be part embedded in our everyday lives?
I think that Assemble are so successful at what they do and deserve the recognition. Art makes such an impact on peoples lives and even simple things can cheer people up so much. Art or crafts is so often seen as a hard thing to get into, so the way they open it up to everybody is inspiring. I love how it is not in a gallery, or exorbitant prices. Art does not need to be exclusive.
The idea of community in art is something that I find interesting and is what I really want to get involved with. I love assembles attitude of it not having to look perfect \and keeping it simple so everyone can join in, as this can so often put people off. The way that they have made such an impact on the people of Granby’s lives is a testament to the value of art in the community.