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Archive for the ‘Day 2: 28/04/07’ Category

At the end of the workshop we went on a walk from Tate Modern Staff entrance, to Pizza Express in London Bridge where some of us had lunch to celebrate the end of the course.

The Walk

I planned a route to take participants on a walk that would reveal something about the past, present and future of the area. We were lucky to count also with the presence of Simon Pope who knows the history of the area well, and used to have a studio in Clink Wharf before the Bankside regeneration.

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Together and as we walked, we looked for traces of the past and objects that herald the area’s move towards gentrification. We searched for marks and signs left by others, and we discussed the different ways in which a walk can be structured or documented by making use of what the street has to offer.

Walk itinerary

Bankside Walk

The proposed itinerary was selected by walking backwards from the desired destination place (a spacious and affordable eatery where to say our farewells). The main requisite for choosing which streets to take, was that there would be as tourist and car-free as possible, to allow for a large group to walk leisurely in the middle of the road, and to stop and talk when the scenery took our fancy.

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On the preparatory walk I took notes and made drawings that helped me organise my thoughts to provide the group with some sort of running commentary. These notes were completed and expanded on the day with the observations and knowledge of others in the group.

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Bankside Walk

The old and the new

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The area where we walked has suffered a major transformation in recent years, and in our walk we noticed the fragile coexistence of the old with the new, whilst pondering how long it will be before the new corporate spirit takes over completely. A sense of the transformation still under way can be tasted in the following quote from Simon Pope’s book, London Walking.

Under one arch in Stoney Street near Borough Market you can see the evidence of change written in large white letters. ‘Bankside’ declaims the 20-foot-high corporate graffito. Not Borough; not Borough Market; not Southwark; not even ‘London’s Larder’, but ‘Bankside’. In reality this is a short stretch of walkway between Southwark Bridge and the site of the old Clink prison, an area that epitomises the cultural-property-developer’s dream of surmounting the doomed post-war South Bank Centre with a pastiched and reclaimed Little England-on-Thames. Bounded by the Millenium Wheel in the west and London Bridge in the east, the Millenium Walkway takes us through a ‘thousand years of adventure’. The showpiece is the ‘cathedral of power’, the Bankside Tate or Tate Modern, housed in a gigantic former power station, putting art and culture into the realm of nationalised industry where coal once reigned.

Surveillance

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We were reminded of a piece by Francis Alys where he constructed his itinerary by moving outside of the reach of CCTV cameras in a specific area (I haven’t found any documentation about this work).

Using a reversal strategy the artist Jill Magid “spent 31 days in Liverpool, during which time she developed a close relationship with Citywatch (Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council), whose function is citywide video surveillance- the largest system of its kind in England. The videos in her Evidence Locker were staged and edited by the artist and filmed by the police using the public surveillance cameras in the city centre. Wearing a bright red trench coat she would call the police on duty with details of where she was and ask them to film her in particular poses, places or even guide her through the city with her eyes closed, as seen in the video Trust.” You can find out more about this work at Evidence Locker website.

Official signage

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The proliferation of warning and imperative signs in the area is daunting. Perhaps one could do a walking piece by following carefully all those instructions, or perhaps by defiantly challenging every instruction issued. This kind of signage is displayed on hard surfaces and materials, foretelling possible vandalism, and the lettering is bold and serious, usually in a striking sans-serif font. Colours are either serious (blue and black) or alarming (red and yellow). In 2003, as part of an art project done in collaboration with Latin American residents in Myatts Field Estate (Brixton), we replaced all the Council signage with hand painted sign boards issuing similar requests and information but adding words like “please” and “thank you from your neighbours”, in an attempt to temper the hostility and authoritarianism of official signage.

Drawings and illustrations

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Thankfully, the street also offers a range of images, drawing, illustrations and wall decorations made by anonymous hands, of a more human and friendly nature. Sometimes practical, sometimes mysterious, these 2-D works embellish the street and do not impose their presence on pedestrians. On the contrary, one needs to actively search for them. They also invite us to came back to the same places, looking for changes, new additions and disappearances.

Anti-social sculpture
A walk also offers the pedestrian a chance to encounter (and perhaps document) three-dimensional interventions made in the public space by anonymous pedestrians. I call these objects and installations Anti-social Sculpture (they are usually made of rubbish or discardable stuff), as a way to highlight and explicitly relate these creative if messy contributions to the public space, to Joseph Beuys concept of social sculpture.

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Virtual walk
For a younger generations, advertising services and talents through stickers is seemingly a common practice, if one is to judge by the number of stickers found of lamp post, bins, benches and bollards. What kind of journey would you embark if you followed the links to all the websites advertised alongside your itinerary? What kind of conclusions or revelations could you derive from comparing or overlapping your physical and virtual journeys?

Here is a list of links taken from stickers found during our Bankside Walk.

http://www.V-ZINE.co.uk
The world first virtual magazine, entirely re-designed for each issue.

http://www.carefreecyclingtours.com
The way to experience cycling. Fully managed cycling tours & experiences for all abilities at home and abroad. Fully guided & supported. Bikes & transfers included.

http://www.encepence.com
A gallery of collages by some Russian or Ukranian artist or designer, no other information given.

http://uk.youtube.com/user/aldenny
Al vs the Marathon. Video diary of Al, who was mysteriously invited to the Mall by his mates, and was presented with an envelope containing his acceptance form for the London Marathon for which he never applied. A series of video clips following his week by week preparation for the Marathon.

http://www.violentflooklove.com
http://www.myspace,com/flookmusic
A strange combination of a myspace-based group of rock lovers, running also a web portal with links to trivial services such as gift shops and insurance companies.

http://www.scnc.co.uk/
Science Skateboards. Based in London, it is a skateboarding and design company without any desire to compromise the skateboard culture from which it is was born.

http://www.style43.com
This site is a collaboration of several friends that wanted to share their interests be it BMX, skate, music or whatever else with others.

http://www.streeteam.spreadshirt.net
Street clothing, Textiles for street people

http://mcmarpo.cz
http://www.marpofans.tym.cz
Official site and fans site for Marpo (the king of metaphors), seemingly a Checz MC

http://www.daydream-mag.com
The virtual home of Daydream Network, a platform for grassroots creative talent, promoting people’s style and ideas through publications, workshops, parties and exhibitions.

http://www.CallieArt.com
A painter and watercolour female artist based in New York. Vegetal motifs and ornamental works.

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