Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Deptford X 2011

It has been awhile since I posted here...

In July I put in a proposal to Deptford X 2011. The festival happened over two weekends at the end of September, and I didn't take part. Not being selected came as a relief since my design work had become very busy and I was also doing quite a bit of local campaigning (and still am)...and the idea I had was for another installation in the Creek that would have required a lot of work.

The "lead artist-curators" were (and still are) Hew Locke and Indra Khanna. Their brief was as follows...

Surrender to the pleasure of the decorative. Revel in the excessive, embrace it, be dazzled. A stall stacked with lurid artificial flowers, rhythmic serpentine graffiti, baroque mermen carved over the old town hall door, all equally a joy to the eye. Indulge yourself.

But there is more than just the surface. Layers of decoration contain levels of meaning, messages and codes. Symbols of power, conspicuous consumption, signals of elitist knowledge, patterns of control, signs of social belonging.

Is it all just too much? Visual overload, information overload, too much to digest – too much work, not enough time. Are our eyes bigger than our stomachs?

Here was my idea...It was not particularly decorative!

Deptford Creek forms the eastern boundary of the Deptford parliamentary seat presently occupied by Joan Ruddock MP. An imaginary dotted line runs through its middle.

The coalition government aims to reduce the number of MPs, and on September 6th 2011, boundary changes will be announced. The Deptford parliamentary seat is predicted to become Greenwich & Deptford. 

I propose to draw the present boundary line in the Creek with an object often found in the Creek, that is, crockery. The plates would be white (or possibly coloured and patterned) and be placed every metre along the imaginary line. The line would be viewable from Laban, from the Ha'Penny Hatch, and from the carpark at Faircharm.

The line would also only be visible at low-tide, and invisible at high tide. Over the duration of the festival, the line will be distressed and displaced by the tidal water and become indistinct as the plates become covered in mud, and eventually disappear, much as the present political boundary is predicted to.

The Creek as a political boundary has become a symbol of power, signalling patterns of control, creating a specific sense of place (and social belonging) to those living either side of it, despite the bridges that cross it. Rivers have long divided cities and countries, but has this particular division been natural or artificial? The Creek's role may now change as it becomes the centre of a much larger area, and a hub of luxury development. Do we care about this gerrymandering? Will we notice the difference?

(click to enlarge)