Currently IUD is exhibiting in The Fire and the Rose curated by Tongyu Zhou as part of the Asia Triennial 14. The work is located in the Vertical Gallery, 3rd Floor, Benzie Building , Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. We have created a Temporary Research Space, an invitation to spend time exploring selected materials from our archive, derived from fieldwork and other research in Salford, UK and Guangzhou, China. Also included are a small sample of related critical and fieldwork texts. The show is on until November 28th.
“Just as none of us are beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” Edward Said, Culture & Imperialism
A Walk Around the Demolition Site of Peach Tree Court, Saturday 27th September 2014.
We cross the main road and enter the waste ground through the old school gates, the ones parents used to visit the head teacher in the 1990’s before the school was demolished. We had already smelled smoke from the other side of the road, before we saw the treacly patches of branded earth, some of them still leaking a pencil line of smoke. The blond grass of the waste ground is too damp to burn for long and the young arsonists (we caught sight of them briefly) have failed in their attempts to make the fires take hold.
When I was in my twenties two of my great loves were documentary photography and experimental film. Seeing Jem Cohen’s work Lost Book Found (1996) made me realise how the two could come together in a heady mix. Cohen wanders like a street photographer gathering Super-8 and 16mm film material through his direct observation of the urban world around him. Lost Book Found is his modern day homage to Benjamin’s Arcades Project relocated to New York. It attempts to find another layer of meaning to the city through its traces, fragments and neglected spaces. The narrative alternates between the city’s hard streets and a hidden reality beneath the kaleidoscopic distractions and phantasmagoria of its capitalist space.
Latour & Hermant’s on-line book Paris: Invisible City (1998) presents a challenge to all urban photographers and the observational methods central to their work. The project questions how much we really can understand about the modern city by simply looking. Starting off on the rooftop of the famous La Samaritaine department store it begins by examining the panorama of Paris.
The book explores the labyrinth of overlapping networks that underpin the functioning of the city. Using Latour’s Actor-Network-Theory as a methodology, it highlights the ‘invisible’ and unnoticed connectivities that compose the city. It presents us with a layered portrait of place “bypassed by the normative representational mode” (Networks of Design). Latour uses the term ‘oligopticon’ to define these hidden networks that ultimately serve to make Paris the functioning city that it is. As a social researcher he believes that they are a means to appreciate the intertwined totality of municipal space. Unlike the absolutist all seeing gaze of Foucault’s panopticon, with the oligopticon “extremely narrow views of the (connected) whole are made possible–as long as connections hold” (p.181, Reassembling the Social). By drawing our attention to the complexity of these ‘co-existences’, the work ultimately demonstrates the sheer impossibility of understanding Paris or any urban space through a single image or glance.
Photographer Chris Jordan has created a powerful series of images on a remote atoll, which evidence how our everyday waste (lighters, bottle tops etc) is lethally consumed by baby albatrosses. http://www.chrisjordan.com/
Below are more resources which are helping us better observe and understand waste as a material and a productive force in our work
Since 2008 photographer and film maker Wang Jiuliang has been investigating the ring of garbage dumps that surround Beijing. (In 2013 IUD was privileged to exhibit our work alongside his in Guangdong Art Museum). This is a trailor for his film:
We have been thinking a lot about unbuilding as we observe the creative destruction of tower blocks in Salford (see the above photo by IUD on the ground). These demolitions are part of the first phase of a PFI driven gentrification project. In this process many social housing tenants are evicted and their homes replaced with houses and flats for sale on the open market. The demolition industry along with property developers, builders, finance companies and so on benefit from regeneration, which is not really about the provision of better homes but the redistibution of assets, from the poor to the rich. Demolition also functions at a symbolic level, as it rids us of unwanted architectural forms, in this case high rise social housing. The significance of this is not in some failure of the modernist architectural project but the destruction of viable homes and the displacement of the poor. Regeneration in this instance calls for the replacement of unwanted bodies with the healthy bodies of the rich who have money to spend and don’t rely so heavily on council services. In her book Where the Other Half Lives, Sarah Glynn says ” ‘regeneration’ sounds as though it could be a good thing, but it is being used as a Trojan horse for state-sponsored ‘accumulation by dispossession’ on a massive scale”(page 72).
This is an ongoing selection of resources on unbuilding, rubble, demolition etc.
Julian Rosefeldt and Piero Steinle made a video installation from archival sequences of demolitions called Detonation Deutschland. See the diptych above and more on Piero’s Steinle’s website.
Photographs made by Charles Marville of the demolition of large sections of Paris by Baron Haussmann. Marville’s work is digitized in the collection of the Musee Carnavalet (search in French only).
Artist Hilary Powell’s work is an exploration of and collaboration with demolition sites, materials and stories http://demolitionsite.net
Rubble: unearthing the history of demolition, by Jeff Byles and published by Three Rivers Press is a well researched popular history of demolition.
This is an academic paper, which explores the performative properties of asbestos in the demolition process: Inextinguishable fibres: demolition and the vital materialisms of asbestos by Nicky Gregson, Helen Watkins & Melania Calestani, published in Environment & Planning Journal 2010, volume 42.
therubbleclub.com: a club for architects whose creations have been intentionally destroyed during their life time.
10 minute promotional video of back to back demolitions by Controlled Demolition Inc
more to follow….
This is an image from Randa Mirza’s project entitled Beirutopia. A series of photographs of billboards showing new developments in Beirut, that are distressed, damaged or otherwise interrupted by the life taking place around them.
See more of Randa Mirza’s work here: http://www.randamirza.com/