Steve McQueen the Turner Prize and Oscar-winning filmmaker together with Tate Britain, Artangel and A New Direction, have announced one of the world’s most ambitious contemporary art projects: a portrait of an entire age group of Londoners, capturing tens of thousands of Year 3 schoolchildren from across the capital. Over the next nine months, each and every one of London’s 2,410 primary schools with Year 3 pupils are invited to have those classes specially photographed for the project, with the resulting artwork going on display at Tate Britain and around London in autumn 2019.
This month 115,000 seven-year-olds are beginning the new school year in a new class in London. This is a milestone year in a child’s development and sense of identity when they become more conscious of the world beyond their immediate family. McQueen’s project will capture this moment of excitement, anxiety and hope through the traditional medium of the class photograph, depicting rows of children sitting or standing alongside their teachers and teaching assistants. In bringing together so many of these class photos from a single year, the work will embody the diversity of the city in which the artist grew up, as well as the potential of the next generation who will shape London’s future.
Working with creative learning specialists A New Direction, Tate Britain and Artangel today invite every London primary school to register their school at tateyear3project.org.uk. Here they can choose a date and time for a Tate photographer, briefed by McQueen, to visit their school and take their Year 3 class photo. Specially created learning resources will also allow pupils to further explore the work’s critical themes of belonging, identity and citizenship within the curriculum, while a live-streamed lesson will be staged in spring 2019 for primary school classes across the country to watch and engage with the project.
From November 2019 to May 2020, the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain will be taken over by a large installation of the photographs, free for all to visit. It will be a celebration of the tens of thousands of young people who will make London their own in years to come, and a meditation on the social forces and personal developments that shape our lives. Artangel, who are renowned for producing extraordinary art in unexpected places, will also create an outdoor exhibition of class photographs across each of London’s 33 boroughs, giving passers-by a glimpse of the future of their city. Tate Modern will then stage a major survey exhibition of McQueen’s work to coincide with the project, open from February to May 2020.
Steve McQueen was born in London in 1969 and currently lives and works in London and Amsterdam. He is one of the most renowned artists and filmmakers of his generation, creating works to be shown in gallery spaces as well as four cinematic films: Hunger (2008), Shame (2010), the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013) and the upcoming Windows (2018). Solo exhibitions of this work have been held around the world, including a major retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Schaulager, Basel in 2012-13. He won the Turner Prize in 1999, represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and was awarded an OBE in 2002 and a CBE in 2011.
Artangel produces and presents extraordinary art in unexpected places in London, the UK and beyond. For over 30 years Artangel has generated some of the most talked-about art of recent times, including projects with Clio Barnard, Jeremy Deller, PJ Harvey, Roger Hiorns, Michael Landy, Steve McQueen, Rachel Whiteread, and earlier this year, Taryn Simon. Appearing anywhere from empty prisons to underground vaults, daytime TV to the sky at night, Artangel produces art that surprises and inspires and wouldn’t be possible within the confines of a gallery. Artangel is generously supported by Arts Council England and the private patronage of Artangel International Circle, Special Angels, Guardian Angels, and The Company of Angels. Visit artangel.org.uk