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Review: You Get a Car [Everybody Gets a Car], Resolve Collective at Tate + RIBA North

In case you’d missed it, Tate Liverpool is closed for a major upgrade, and they’ve moved to RIBA North, just next door to Open Eye Gallery, until late 2025.

While it’s a lot less space, its meant that Tate have had to streamline their programme, as well as work out what to do about the vast amounts of stuff that has accumulated over the last forty-something years in their Albert Dock gallery.

The first few exhibitions at this temporary home have paired well with the aims of their host, RIBA North (home of the Royal Institute of British Architects), and the brilliantly named You Get a Car [Everybody Gets a Car] by Resolve Collective is no different.

The exhibition presents the collective’s efforts to redistribute and re-use materials, equipment and staging from the old galleries, which would otherwise end up as expensive landfill.

The title of the exhibition, You Get a Car [Everybody Gets a Car], is partly in homage to the generosity of the iconic Oprah Winfrey moment, and partly a criticism of it – because giveaways to those deserving are worthwhile, but when it cements unsustainable production and globally-manufactured-capitalism, it needs rethinking.

So, since Tate’s doors closed last year, Resolve have been working with local organisations and community groups to find homes for every nut and bolt that came out of Tate Liverpool.

Across the gallery walls are stories of how and why these groups were chosen, and contributions from some of the artists who work with them more permanently.

Homebaked Community Land Trust, Pagoda Arts, Stoneycroft Secret Garden, and tons of others have all benefitted from this project, and will hopefully feel the benefit of their engagement for longer.

But it isn’t just who they’ve worked with, its how. Because Resolve aren’t from round here. They’re a London-based design collective, working across architecture, engineering, technology and art. So their ways of working with and learning from local groups and local people are central to this. Because they’re different.

Emotional mapping features heavily in the exhibition, and despite the perpetual misunderstanding of “Huyton, Huyton, two dogs fightin’” scrawled on one map, it does share an open lesson in how Liverpool sees itself.

Resolve have made every effort to get to know the city of Liverpool in the lead up to this exhibition so that the redistribution of objects [sic. wealth] is done with the support of local knowledge. That means that Tate Liverpool’s objects have a legacy, remain in use, and continue to benefit communities who have, in all likelihood, walked past them as ‘part of the furniture’.

That’s maybe more of a background to the exhibition, rather than a review, but the exhibition is a background anyway. Stickers, repatriated from staff lockers, and the staff lockers themselves, pair with display units that haven’t seen the light of day for decades.

And, at the end of it all, whatever’s left is up for grabs by another round of community groups.

You Get a Car [Everybody Gets a Car] is open at Tate + RIBA North until 14th July 2024.

Words, Kathryn Wainwright

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