John McKiernan, founder of Platform-7 Events discusses public art interventions and contested space on The News Agents radio show with Professor Andy Pratt (City University, London) and Professor Loretta Lees (University of Leicester).
This radio show was first broadcast on Resonance Radio 104.4FM in London, 1st March 2014 and is available as a podcast.
Producer: Jude Cowen Montague // Host: Rob Edwards
Key points of the discussion:
The bottom-up Moonbow Margate was set up as an alternative to Turner Contemporary, which is a top down initiative. For both Lees and Pratt, the project in Margate provided the ethnographic work that they feel is missing in the evidence base around art led regeneration, and consider whether it could be used as evidence for future policy makers. It provided an insight to what was going on in the community surrounding the Turner.
The discussion moves to the discourse about art as a social function, how people engage with each other and whether this of kind of work connects how society talks about art and its potential in transforming people’s lives.
Control of space and privatisation of space ‘some call it purification / sanitisation’ became the subject of the second half of the show. Certain groups are invited to become part of a location while others are excluded, sometimes through self-exclusion. Corporation recognise that space must at least look like public space. Canary Wharf has lots of restrictions and this can have a negative effect. What is safe for one group may prove unsafe for another. New shopping centres are built over streets, what were once public but are now closed at night and security protects the space. It does not just cause conformity; guards impose conformity. Where there was negotiation in an open street between people who lived there and those who passed through it, this has now been outsourced to someone else. For the privileged group it can be very nice but it does miss the interconnection. When you disconnect out these separate worlds you disengage people and groups risking a lack of care on both sides. Having this happen to cities means the serendipity is removed, the chance encounter, which is the vibrancy of any city, is reduced. It is the irony of the creative city, but what happens means clearing other people out and keeping them out. It is not a creative city for everyone it is a creative city for the few.
Founded Platform-7 in 2009 to explore social issues through abstract live performance art.
Professor of Urban Geography Loretta’s main interest is in the privatisation of public space specifically through gentrification and how urban regeneration and public policy interfere with publicness of space.
Professor of Cultural Economy Andy’s interest is in cultural policy and the ‘for-profit’ and ‘not-for profit’ sectors, how culture works in real-life not through institutions but everyday normal transactions.
04:00 – 10.21 min
Centred around the 1976 record, ‘Tony Savage and Dominic Play the Organ’ (recorded live at the Lido), Claire Hazelton and Dean Wood create a theatrical soundscape incorporating classical music, laptop, radio and culinary equipment (for a La Monte Young inspired interlude). Looking back to the Savage’s lively Cliftonville, the piece fluctuates between the melancholy of the lost Cliftonville of now and the energy of the Cliftonville of then. Using the dream-like sounds of the Japanese Suspension Glockenspiel and other bowed percussion, the musicians transport the space into a suspended reality and time. Only in the middle of the piece where the performers engage in a day to day activity not often seen as performance, do they completely exist in one time and space, with the Savage record only a reminder of a past Cliftonville.
Claire Hazelton and Dean Wood first met at school in Ramsgate and, both studying music, they often performed together in classical settings. They continued to perform together sporadically during university (Claire: Kings College London – Music, Dean: Nottingham University – Music); at this time they experimented more with sounds and theatricality, focussing often on site-specific soundscapes and musique concrete. The pair now both live in London where Claire works as a writer and journalist, writing for the Times Literary Supplement, The Observer and The F-Word, and where Dean is studying for his masters in music performance at Trinity College of Music. Separately, Claire and Dean have performed in venues including The Royal Festival Hall, Greenman Festival, The ICA and The RCA amongst others.
19:00 – 24:11 min
EXT-1 was an interactive audio/visual installation by Harmergeddon.
The piece focussed on nostalgia for obsolete formats of mechanically stored memory.
The soundscape was provided by three short cassette tape loops which were digitally manipulated by custom built software dependant on the audiences interaction with the space.
The centre piece of the installation was a short video tape loop which played on a CRT television screen for the duration, slowly degrading and eroding over time casting familiar flickers of light in the otherwise darkened room.
34:00 – 35:00 min
PLAY: MLADIC LAST MINUTE OF POTS & PANS – GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
35:00 – 41:33 min
PLAY: STRUNG LIKE LIGHTS AT THEE PRINTEMPS ERABLE – GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
” In regards to the arts role in resistance – the Constellation Records chaps in Canada were really involved in the protests back in 2012 – and have been very vocal about participating and aiding resistance. I wish I could find the article – but one of the Godspeed crowd wrote a really nice piece about owning the sonic space of a city. The point was how musicians and creatives led pots and pans protests as a counter action to the police using sound as a means of intimidating crowds (loud hailers, rattling shields and batons in rhythm – group hollers. In reaction to this the protestors started taking pots and pans – just regular kitchen stuff, out onto the streets and bashing them together. The resonant qualities of this allowed for protestors to feel part of an active mass movement, whilst simultaneously drowning out all the sonic efforts of the police to intimidate the crowd. owning the sonic space was a key feature of these protests (at one point the disorientation this caused led protestors managed to kettle the police)
47:00 – 48:38 min
The last piece specially written by Julian Jacobson, professor of piano at RCM and was both played conventionally, distorted and reinterpreted during the 2012 event no man’s land. This is typical of Platform-7 practice regarding exploration of how we reach opinion on conflict and war by creating abstract interventions in cemeteries, across the underground and London that cause discomfort and confusion.
Londonist Out Loud Podcast July 2014 will be available soon Here
John McKiernan dicussing in detail the Platform-7 and the broader ethos.