Saturday, 10 October 2015

Council estate palimpsest projected

One of the earliest posts on this blog, entitled The Revised Plan took to task a fairly commonplace idea that slum clearances and the re-housing of families in new council estates back in the 1950s and 60s represented little more than a postwar piece of cultural colonization: a vision forged by one section of society to be applied to another, where planners 'uprooted' old, 'cohesive' working class communities and placed them in a take it or leave it house within a new estate on the distant edge of town. This alien, modernist world apparently precluded any hope of ‘spontaneous estate evolution’. At the time, I argued that my parents at that time just wanted a good house in a nice part of town like anyone else, private or public, and I doubted that my Mum (or anyone else on the estate in 'the sixties' for that matter) ever secretly thought about creating an estate ‘happening’ over a cup of tea. 

But now, here I am, the errant, who-would've-thought-it, academic offspring of the condescended - culturally colonising the estate myself by helping to create, in artistic speak, a 'transformative intervention', a 'happening' even, as part of the Back to the Future 1965-2015-2016 project mentioned in previous recent posts. Last night, the second stage of the project - Sharing - took place, where Kate, Steve and I put on a show for the Middlefield Lane estate residents, of images of the place where they live, writ large and projected onto the estate itself.  And the residents (well, some - maybe twenty kids and fifteen adults) came to look on at themselves. They seemed to appreciate the spectacle and took lots of photos of the projections, and of their children as they leapt about in front of the images and became absorbed into the summer-long-since-passed representations of themselves. Perhaps we should have done a qualitative feedback questionnaire for everyone to fill in, but where's the fun in that? It was certainly spectacular enough, and often quite breathtakingly beautiful, as I hope the photos below demonstrate. Again, if it just creates a memory that will remain with the children there even as they begin to later forget all the other things about growing up on the estate, then I'll be happy.

1 comment:

  1. Thinking means venturing beyond. But in such a way that what already exists is not kept under or skated over. Not in its deprivation, let alone in moving out of it. Not in the causes of deprivation, let alone in the first signs of the change which is ripening within it. That is why real venturing beyond never goes into the mere vacuum of an In-Front-of-Us, merely fanatically, merely visualizing abstractions. Instead, it grasps the New as something that is mediated in what exists and is in motion, although to be revealed the New demands the most extreme effort of will. (Principle of Hope Ernst Block)