Hundreds of billboards around London will soon be showing photographs by Steve McQueen. The photos will be of school children from primary schools around the country as part of a large outdoor exhibition to come at the end of the year. The billboard project is expected to take place during the first two weeks of November, leading up to McQueen’s show at Tate Britain, of over 1,500 class photographs.
McQueen’s project, which focuses on children in Year 3, is co-organised by an arts non-profit called Artangel as well as an educational charity called A New Direction. In the project, McQueen has invited every school in London, including public and private and totalling to 2,410 schools, to register and participate. The traditional class photos will then be brought together into a single installation that shows tens of thousands of students.
The schools and students will not be named on the images and according to the Tate website, “The only billboard text will be #Year3 to identify the project. There will be no school name or logos and billboards will appear purely as artworks in their own right. Schools will not be identifiable by their uniform, names or school logos appearing in the photograph.”
As per the guidelines put forward by the Tate, all billboards will be at least 50 metres from pubs, betting shops, casinos, adult shops and fast food restaurants. Artist in residence at Hillyfield Primary Academy, Christian Griffin, told the Guardian that “the idea of the project is that children at that age are at a key stage in their development; they are yet to form concrete views on the world around them. That is what Steve McQueen is exploring in this artwork.”
“A good piece of artwork should not give you the answer, it should ask a question. This is getting us thinking about the next generation, what they are inheriting and what they are going to be.
“It is of historic importance. I think in 30 or 40 years’ time, the gallery will hang this piece of work again.