Refurbished homes, steel chairs nominated for Turner Prize

(From left) Lewis Jones, Amica Dall and Fran Edgerley from the collective Assemble in part of their recreated work in Glasgow.
(From left) Lewis Jones, Amica Dall and Fran Edgerley from the collective Assemble in part of their recreated work in Glasgow.PHOTO: REUTERS

GLASGOW • This year's Turner Prize nominees range from an architecture collective that sells cabinet handles and other furnishings online, to a video display in which a woman talks about being brainwashed in Kentucky by aliens.

Since the British contemporary art prize made a leap into the bizarre by recognising Damien Hirst's bisected cow and calf in 1995, it has been hard to predict what the judges might include among the finalists.

This year's nominees, unveiled for a public show in Glasgow on Wednesday, are no exception.

Two rooms at the Glasgow arts space Tramway are given over to Assemble, a group of 18 young people working in architecture and design and the Turner Prize's most unexpected candidates in recent years.

The work that drew the nomination in May was the group's refurbishing of Victorian homes in Toxteth, a district of Liverpool that had fallen into disrepair and dereliction after riots in 1981, where residents have long battled against demolition.

The ongoing project works with the idiosyncracies of the properties, creating a "winter garden" inside a pair of houses that are no longer habitable. As the houses themselves cannot go on show, the exhibition is dedicated to the group's Liverpool workshop, in which they worked with local young people to build items such as fireplace surrounds, door handles and stools for the project. The group is displaying and selling the items through an online catalogue.

Of the group's 18 founder members, 14 are active and all are in their 20s. They started as friends at the University of Cambridge.

"We are not allowed to call ourselves architects because none of us is fully qualified and before we got nominated for the Turner Prize, I don't think anyone would have called us artists," said Joe Halligan of Assemble.

Artist Bonnie Camplin's video installation challenges viewers to think about seemingly outrageous accounts by people who say they were brainwashed by aliens, turned into a cyborg in a special government programme or survived an attempted crucifixion by a blood cult on the Orkney Islands.

Books displayed in the room around the screens are there as resource materials - for anyone who wants to probe deeper.

The other two finalists are Canadian artist Janice Kerbel and German artist Nicole Wermers.

Kerbel's musical composition, DOUG, is performed by six opera singers dressed in black who sing songs recounting a series of disasters that happen to a person named Doug.

Most of Wermers' installation of sculptures are modern stainless steel chairs with fur coats sewn onto the seat backs. On the wall are ceramic sculptures resembling advertisements with numbers that can be torn off.

"Both projects are about crystallising fleeting social gestures - the placing of a coat on a chair to mark space, the tearing of a number off the wall to get information - into rigid sculptural form," said co- curator Paul Pieroni.

The exhibition runs through Jan 17. The winner will be announced on Dec 7.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline 'Refurbished homes, steel chairs nominated for Turner Prize'. Print Edition | Subscribe