Article Magazine Issue 10 Security Bassline Kid Acne Funfairs Free
Article Issue 10 December 2009
Jim Brodgen. Interview on p. 45
Article is a guide to the space that you are in. Connecting urbanism, pop culture, fashion, music and criticism Article is driven by the desire to demonstrate that the normal and everyday is in fact fascinating and absorbing. For articles, comment and criticism and to view back issues www.articlemagazine.co.uk email@example.com Bank Street Arts, 32-40 Bank Street, Sheffield, S1 2DS Edited and Produced Alasdair Hiscock & Ben Dunmore Some More Design Thomas â€˜Hegâ€™ Heginbotham Advertising Ben Dunmore firstname.lastname@example.org Printed by Juma 1000 copies
Photography Andy Brown (Cover, Security City), Shaun Bloodworth (Kid Acne), Dan Sumption (Kid Acne) Jim Brodgen, JR (Niche), Ben Dunmore, Alasdair Hiscock, Site Gallery Special Thanks to Andy Brown, Bank Street Arts, Rupert Wood, Ed Kid Acne, JR, Niche and Steve Baxendale, Hannah Trevarthen, Robin Beck and Mike Forrest, Mugshots and Ausgang. Site Gallery, Holly Jennison. Ben and Hugh for translations. 3
Article Issue 10 December 2009
6 The Life Worth Living What’s going down ‘round steel town. Ben Dunmore 10 Strength Through Joy Advertising, social conditioning and fun. Thomas Heginbotham 14 An Alien Invasion Ferris Wheels attempts to make city centres vibrant Asa Roast 18 Security City Community Support, Civic Bouncers Orla Foster 26 I’ve Seen Worse - Kid Acne An intermediate retrospective Kid Acne 35 Sheffield’s Safest Club Security and Bassline Alasdair Hiscock Interviews
41 FrenchMottershead Ben Dunmore 45 Jim Brodgen Lucy Dunn p. 47 Man About Town Lieutenant Geoffrey-Crispin Tiffin Hellier
We’re stuck in a continuum between security and spontaneity, where our environments are controlled, where we are surrounded by constant security. There are large issues at stake; perhaps we feel safer, or maybe controlled - but the issue we see is that of boredom. What’s the everyday reality of a dull, sterile secure environment? Issue 10 is our first explicitly themed issue, where we’ve attempted to examine areas of security and spontaneity in our city centres and public lives. We have looked at the experience of high security clubbing, the simulated danger of fun fairs and empty authority figures. It’s all on a scale, not between security and liberty, but security and fun. Between spontaneity and dullness. See the complicated matrix above. 5
THE LIFE WORTH LIVING - Dec What’s happening? Wha gwhan? What’s the plan? What’s the lowdown in soyo-town? She One
BLACK AND SILVER 5 Archipelago Works - Dec 5th onwards This month’s exhibition at the Archipelago Gallery has seen the commission of 20 prints by 20 different graphic designers. The only rule was that each piece had to be in black and silver. The prints themselves are diverse as the names involved: Dust, Ian Anderson, and Club Pony’s own Robin Beck to name but a few. And with the two-colour pallete keeping costs down, you might be able to bag one for yourself.
SHEFFIELD 4 GROW Guerilla Knitting - wintergardentrail.co.uk As a part of Grow Sheffield, a series of knitted vegetables will be left on trails around the Sharrow area of Sheffield. The trail will be open from 1pm till 4pm on Saturday the 12th. It aims to awaken you to unused, neglected neighbourhood paces. And if the weather’s not so good, there’ll be soup. 6
article 10 the life worth living / / / / / / / / / / REOPENED 3 CRUCIBLE www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk The Crucible’s iconic stage reopened last month following a £11.3 million redevelopment. New Artistic Director Daniel Evans promises to bring innovative and exciting theatre, starting the new season in February with a production Ibsen’s ‘Enemy of the People’. Norway’s finest, right on your doorstep. Tom J Newell
STOCK 5 ROYAL www.royalstock.co.uk BIG HANG 5 THE Bank Street Arts - Dec 7th - 19th Rounding of their first year of exhibitions, Bank Street Arts present a ‘Royal Academy Summer’ style exhibition in December. Including over 35 artists’ work – ranging in subject, style and medium – this exhibition should have something for everyone. Go fill your (Christmas) boots.
Exceptional home-grown t-shirt label, Royal Stock is launching a stunning new line this month. With the aim of providing ‘walking canvases’ for artists, these these print tees promise to be diverse, unique and original. Artists featured include the likes of Geo Law, Phlegm and Tom J Newell.
FRENCH MOTTERSHEAD Site Gallery - Feb 13th 3 The ongoing FrenchMottershead exhibition at the Site Gallery compiles year-long project by collaborative artistic team, Rebecca French and Andrew Mottershead. The exhibition consists of images and videos made in shops all over the world. Their work explores the central premise that local shops have much to reveal about their communities. For more about the exhibition, see p.XX for our interview with the duo.
Strength through Joy.
1. Touch-sensitive piano stairs 2. Super fansastisch parenting 3. Unused nasty escalator
Humans are, for the most part, self-interested beings. Forget altruism, that’s just sublimated self-interest; yes I’ll scratch your back, but only if you swear to god you’ll scratch mine. Problem is, they aren’t too good at spotting what’s in their own interest. Getting exercise, recycling bottles, switching off appliances – these are all things which really are good for us, yet in the short-term seem too much like hard work. So, the question is, how do you go about changing people’sbehaviour ? Simple. You make the stuff that’s good to do in the long run, good to do now. And how do you do that, you ask? Well, there are two options: punish them when they don’t do it, or reward them when they do. In other words, you use the carrot, or you use the stick. Volkswagen, it seems, are carrot people. A recent 10
ad campaign from DDB Stockholm entitled ‘Rolighetsteorin’, or ‘The Fun Theory’, manages to get people to do things they usually wouldn’t, simply by making it fun. Take, for example, the classic ‘stairs vs. escalator’ dilemma; people avoid stairs like the plague, especially when there’s an easier option running right along side. But when DDB’s bunch rig a subway stairway with touch-sensitive piano keys and a set of speakers, people happily queue up for their chance to bash out a tune, as the poor escalator watches on, devoid of custom. Another viral video sees a standard park bin modified so that when litter is dropped in, a lengthy, descending, cartoon-esque whistle plays out,
4. Standard park litter bin 5. Speaker system for cartoon SFX 6. Clever little motion sensor
followed by a comic thud as it supposedly hits the bottom. Amazingly, people now start seeking out litter to chuck in; they’re actively cleaning the park, and all because of a little fun. The third and final instance offered by VW’s ‘fun theory initiative’ is the arcade bottle bank. An ordinary bank is rigged up with a scoreboard and lights and people are asked to throw their bottles into the holes that light up. Before you know it, people are trying their darndest to set the neighbourhood highscore – and recycling like crazy in the process. All three of the examples mentioned above showed positive results: 66% more people took the stairs over the escalator, the bin collected 41kg more litter than a normal bin nearby, and the arcade bottle bank
had 98 more visits than one just round the corner (which only got two). Pretty impressive, I think you’ll agree. But if VW thought fun theory was a new idea, they’d be wrong. Take, for example, the ‘Urinal Fly’. Made famous in Amsterdam International Airport’s toilets, this small fly-bearing-sticker is designed to be placed on the inside of a urinal bowl. It is an invention which appeals to one of man’s most primal urges; that of aiming one’s ‘stream’. The result? Bathrooms that are up to 85% cleaner (so the website boasts). Again, we witness fun-powered order. Carrot-driven obedience. And what about those charity donation boxes where you put a coin in the side and you watch as it spirals 11
faster, and faster and faster until ‘plonk’ – you’ve done something good? You donate a pocket full of change, not because you figured it would be useful in the long-run or might benefit someone else, but because it was fun in the short-term. You probably didn’t even think of any cancer victims as you watched those pennies race. The aim of VW’s campaign is to change people’s behaviour – and ultimately, how they feel about driving environmentally friendly cars – by allowing them to see the fun side of acting responsibly. While the branding is subtle, the idea is big – and it’s one that has, quite unsurprisingly, stuck a chord with the public. Because now, more than ever, what people want are solutions – to the economic crisis, to global warming, to obesity – and if they can function within the existing capitalist model, even better. After all, a pat on the back from Adam Smith’s invisible hand sure beats a slap on the wrist from the state. That said, it is kind of obvious that if you make something novel, people are going to give it a go. At least for a while. The question is whether or not carrot-type, ‘fun theory’ solutions will have any long lasting effect. While an arcade style bottle bank might get me to recycle there, rather than somewhere else, won’t the fun eventually wear off? Once I’ve pissed on the same fly a couple of times, won’t Irealise it’s a fake? You’d hope so. But in all seriousness wouldn’t it be better if you actually convinced people that recycling, getting exercise and giving to charity were things really worth doing, rather than using trickery, loud noises and whizzing coins? Of course it would. But that’s not what humans are like. We don’t think that far ahead. We want to know is ‘what’s in it for me now, not later?’ While changing human nature is a near impossible task, utilising it is a fully realisable one. It’s the difference between working with or against the grain. Who cares if I need a vegetable dangling in front of me before I’ll do something that’s in my interest anyway? If it means more people do more good things, then whose judging? But as the novelty wears off, what we need is more ideas, more solutions, and more ways of making things fun. And as for a VW? I might buy one of them too. A 12
7. Fun fun scoreboard 8. Conscientious Swede 9. Nasty glass bottles
DQ Shefﬁeld DQ Fitzwilliam St S1 4HA www.dqshefﬁeld.com 0114 2211668 *All information was correct at the time of going to print. DQ cannot take responsibility if event details change.
December Listings Alright, party season is well and truly upon us with x-mas, Kwanzaa and hanuka just around the corner. And DQ has had a tummy tuck, face lift and lipo just in time for the mince pies. So here's the menu for the festive season. Pucka.
Main Room : Bigger Than Barry £ 5/8
Upstairs: Krooked £ FREE
Main Room: Upstairs: Krooked Wonk Vs Threads - £ 5 £ 5/6
Main Room: Charged £ FREE
This week Barry gets Dub-step, innit. Joker's reputation as one of the best DJs on the scenes means this set is likely to be unmissable! Brap. Ad to this some of the fat man's classic rave and your gonna have one banging night.
It gets bassy, wobbly and ravey with Sci-Fi Kid, Danny Beck and Mugshots doing what the do best: Rave! Seriously, this lot know how to handle some decks.
Its the battle of the residents. An Epic Clash of DQ Titans. In the blue corner, Steel City favourites Krooked are set to take on on the genre-shattering jabs of local heros Threads.
fri. 11 Main Room : Club Pony & Blogger's Delight X-Mas party - £ 5/7
Upstairs: Krooked £ FREE
Shefﬁeld Electro Stalwarts Club Pony rip it up again with a night of hyperdistorted electro. As you might expect for the Christmas Bash, this line up is HUGE! with Jokers on the scene, Casper C, Run HIde Survive, and Up & Atom. This is THE one.
Santa and Mister Shanks are climbing down the DQ chimney early with bags of D'n'B and Break Beat. We've already sneaked a look at the biggest parcel and saw it was the legend himself, Elite Force! Ho ho ho, Jolly Good Show!
Main Room ; Threads Shefﬁeld X -Mas All Stars £5
Mate, if you think the weekend stops with your Sunday morning hang over, then you are sorely mistaken. Charged makes it housey, for the real party people.
sun. 13 Main Room: Charged £ FREE
Dan Norris and Ocrey mix it up and rough it up for all of you who can't make up your minds. Wicked.
Main Room Suckerpunch £6
Fresh off the release of his new EP on Sound Pellegrino, Italian DJ legend Solo will rip it up at Wonk. Catching him in this intimate venue is not one to miss. And with residents Skullduggery and Fresh faced Steel city pretty boy Adam Smith, upstairs is set to be a corker.
Upstairs: Mod For It £ less than a pint Get on yer' parka and get ready to pogo to this best of retro night, with proper ska, british punk, and northern soul.
Main Room: Threads £5
Upstairs Fragment £3
The Genre destroying Threads sheds light on what quality music is. Booka!
Always promoting the best in underground electronic music, Fragment host class French house artist, JAUNT. Get ready for some serious underground vibes.
Main Room: Charged £ FREE
fri. 25 It’s Christmas CLOSED
photo by Ella Mullins
I’ve noticed a trend lately in British city centres. Alien architectural forms have been appearing amongst the dirty sandstone Victorian halls and glass and steel redevelopments that make up the 21st century urban centres. When you’re arriving in Sheffield by train from the North, as you skirt the old steelworks and mills in the basin of Attercliffe, you get a view of the central skyline that has something very out of place about it. Amongst the familiar shapes of the Arts Tower swathed in plastic, the top of the Town Hall, the bright white rectangles of Hallam University, the brick red smudge of the Moorfoot Building and the grey spires of churches, the smooth circular crest of the ferris wheel on Fargate emerges clearly above the mass of the city. This bizarre shape came by 14
itself, but recently the whole centre has periodically found itself filled with fun fair rides, appearing apparently out of nowhere and disappearing just as suddenly. City centres have always used their public spaces as places for recreation and leisure, but before recently the garish and noisy excitement of the fun fair was never allowed to enter the heart of the city. This trend probably began with the London Eye, but since then almost every city centre in the country has hosted its own ‘eye’ for a while, and brought a host of other carnival rides with it, presumably to keep it company. Now against a victorian backdrop, rides adorned with hyperrealist paintings of smiling faces and
while the fun fair is potentially exotic, dangerous and mysterious, the commercial theme parks of malls are rigorously supervised and secured private spaces flashing lights blare out loud music. People queue to climb aboard them and carve out new neon-lit vectors of movement in the space above Fargate and Barker’s Pool. Very different from the wooden helter skelters and hook-a-duck stalls that occasionally appeared on the same spot during my childhood. While I was being cynical about why these new forms had suddenly appeared in the midst of the city, the punters were enjoying a completely new way of experiencing the built forms around them, and I’m now pretty pissed that I missed the chance – since most of the rides have now departed for pastures new. Historically, these temporary travelling fairs with mechanical rides emerged in the 19th century, at the same time as most of Britain’s present cities. Usually they were pushed onto the physical and social fringe of urban society because they were staffed by Roma Gypsies and Irish Travellers, and seen as a place of sin and danger. Mostly they set up their spaces of leisure on pieces of wasteland on the urban fringe, far from the metropolitan centre. Since the 1960s they’ve started to migrate onto pieces of post-industrial wasteland and public parks, but never intruded into the heart of the city until recently.
Fun fairs were geographically confined to the margin because they represented the margin of society. They were a place where youths could go to misbehave – get drunk, spend money, win prizes, have sex, fight – a suspension of the norms of everyday society. Funfairs still retain an atmosphere of threatened danger and transgression (which is part of their exotic appeal), and young city dwellers still use them as an excuse to get pissed and get up to no good. Indeed, the whole appeal of fun fair rides is based on simulated danger. Nowadays urban fun fairs appear in the most heavily policed and monitored area of the city, but still carry an element of danger – if only in the imaginations of the crowds. This inventive use of the city centre is a testimony to how adaptable urban public spaces can be. Despite this, one of my first (admittedly cynical) thoughts about the appearance of such garish and apparently old-fashioned forms of leisure activity in the city centre was that it was a symbol of desperation. City centres have been in long decline since the 1970s, accelerated through the ‘80s and ‘90s by the growing privatisation of public urban spaces (as excellently described by Anna Minton in the excellent Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the 21st Century City) and I viewed the fun fair as a symbol of how much effort was now required to entice people into the city centre. The Victorian civic planners and Modernist architects who defined Sheffield’s built form shared an ideal of the centralised city. This ideal has been replaced by the dream (imported from the States) of a vast ‘mulit-nucleated’ suburbia. British city centres have increasingly become irrelevant, with their function as commercial, economic and social centres being usurped by suburban developments - the conversion of abandoned industrial sites into giant exurban business and leisure parks. For much of the ‘90s the councils of northern post-industrial cities were terrified of their urban centres becoming ghost towns – this was the fear that inspired the ‘regeneration project’. 15
Whilst no one would deny that regeneration has revitalised urban areas previously in permanent decline (particularly in the case of Sheffield) it’s not been an unqualified success. Many of the city’s wide, regenerated pavements that were built in anticipation of hordes of consumer citizens returning to the urban centre remain empty and lined with unused benches. Most new economic and commercial initiatives still focus on the edge of the city rather than the centre, and with the rise of internet shopping and the onset of the most recent recession, the city centre is increasingly irrelevant to people as a leisure zone. The counterpoint to the decline of the city centre has been the rise in the exurban developments. Most obviously in Sheffield we have good old Meadowhall. This palace of commercialism and leisure is a privatised space to which people travel from across the region to shop, see movies, meet friends, eat food and enjoy their weekends. In many ways it has usurped the role that Sheffield city centre used to occupy. Similarly, dotted throughout the country’s post-industrial suburbs, nestled amongst decaying factories and victorian terraces we have identical malls and ‘leisure parks’. The same cinemas, bowling alleys, games arcades and chain restaurants that cluster around the car park of Valley Centertainment can be spotted in matching configurations across the country. As many people have noted, these malls are theme parks for a society in which leisure is increasingly equated with shopping. The city centre uses the antiquated side shows and glitzy neon-lit rides of the fun fair to bring people back into its public spaces, because it is competing with the delights of commercial theme parks in the suburbs. Of course, the main difference between theme parks and fun fairs is that where the latter are temporary uses of public space, the former are permanent, privatised leisure spaces. So while the fun fair is
potentially exotic, dangerous and mysterious, the commercial theme parks of malls are rigorously supervised and secured private spaces. American sociologists have written extensively about the politics of security in the theme park/ mall. To them, the vast malls of LA represent the militarisation of leisure space – commercial fortresses of privatised space. The modern mall has an immensely sophisticated, yet largely invisible, security system, thanks to CCTV and bar-code monitoring of its consumers’ purchases. Some have compared it to the 18th century concept of the Panopticon – a prison structure in which a single observer could monitor all prisoners without their knowing whether they were being watched. While these American militarised leisure spaces represent an extreme, the same logic underpins similar theme parks of commercialism across the globe. Perhaps Britain’s urban population should be grateful. We are the one of the most heavily monitored societies in the world, and our city centres are still at risk of becoming ghost-towns as their leisure functions are exported outwards to the fringes of the city. But we haven’t yet seen the complete division of our public spaces into privatized, militarized commercial-leisure zones as is often the case elsewhere. The appearance of the alien forms of carnival rides amongst the familiar shapes of the city should remind us of this. In the two centuries that Britain has been a largely urban society, its cities’ populations haven’t lost their appetite for garish, melodramatic spectacles of leisure. So if the choice they are given is between fun fair and theme park – between the lingering public leisure-space of the centre and the vast private leisure-space of the exurbs – I think we should be grateful to have the excuse of gigantic ferris wheels and carnival rides appearing apparently out of thin air to spend time in the city centre and allow us to reinvent the spaces around us. A 17
Opening Night 4:30
the safest club in britain.
Entering Niche is, if nothing else, a thorough experience. You will be familiar with the usual club experience of large bouncers whose main power is the denial of all logic. You have also probably experienced the painfully bureaucratic systems employed at airports where you must prove yourself incapable of carrying out dubious threats. Niche combines these into one procedure and declares itself the safest club in Sheffield as a result. Letâ€™s start by trying to get inside. As you enter from the street, you must manoeuvre around a police van with a camera monitoring the entrance of the club. Then you are separated from your date as men must queue on the left of the entrance, and women on the right. Thereâ€™s a bouncer of each sex on the door who frisks each customer and searches through their clothes, pockets and bags. Next you must pass through a metal detector, and as a final measure look into a camera that is linked directly to the police. Everyone is seen, recorded and noted. At this point, still having not entered the 19
The entry cage, Niche
â€œAnd so, The police began a battle not against people or particular establishments, but Security warning system, Niche 20
a genre of music.â€?
club, you will be in a metal barred cell that can be quickly secured should anything turn bad. At its opening event, the police effectively shut down the area surrounding the club, halting traffic on the roads and sweeping the streets in cars and on foot, as well as searching people on the street. The atmosphere outside felt hazy and ominous with a decided feeling of impending incident. A deranged mid-night carnival, between a music festival and local football derby, where men in t shirts and women in scant dresses move oblivious of the cold, amongst police officers in high visibility yellow jackets, their bobby hats sticking out above the throngs of punters. Does visible security make you feel safer, or more on edge? With great security comes a increase in implicit risk, whilst also assuring a level of enjoyment. So, what control do you have to cede in order to retain a good experience? If you imagine a graph of pleasure against control, clubbing is usually high pleasure, low to medium in security. In contrast, Niche has created, and sustains, a particularly warped version of this equation. The logic is sound. Safety is assured. With this level of security, you’d surely never think of bringing guns or knives inside. It’s all a very visible pillow of protection, but it’s not entirely clear what is being protected. Whilst Niche is by no means an illegal or criminal establishment, it’s not a neutral social space such as a school or airport. It is, in fact, an underground club which operates within strict confines. One of the most unusual and innovative music scenes in the UK is also, it seems, one of the most tightly controlled. Independent but extremely pragmatic. Niche on Charter Square, Sheffield opened in November 2009 as the reincarnation of its former premises on Sidney Street. Opened in 1995 as a house club, by 1997 Niche had moved with the times and was known for its speed garage. Over the next few years, this sub-genre developed into Bassline - house/garage with heavy 4/4 beat underneath. Bassline and Niche became interchangeable terms, a fact that has lead to both success and problems.
During this period, Niche gained a certain degree of notoriety. There was at least one murder outside the club, and a reported shooting, not to mention the usual allegations of drug dealing. Officially, the police were frustrated with what they saw as the open criminal atmosphere of the club. Bassline was described as the only music scene in Sheffield that attracted serious violent crime, and it was stated that organised criminal gangs were travelling from other cities because of Niche. On November 27 2005 Niche on Sidney Street was raided by 300 police officers in the middle of a club night. 12 people were arrested for a range of drug related offences. The operation, which was described by Its owner, Steve Baxendale as a ‘military’ procedure was less than sensitively named “Operation Repatriation.” No charges were brought against anyone involved in the running of the club. After its closure, Niche became the club that must not be named. Steve Baxendale was told by the police not to use the name Niche, book the same DJs, or even play the same music. It’s clear that in the mind of the police, there was an explicit association between the music itself apparently down to its audible characteristics - and criminal activity. And so, South Yorkshire police began a battle not against people or particular establishments, but a genre of music. Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. This raises the interesting proposition that someone somewhere in the police had a definition of bassline and was prepared to enforce it, reminiscent of the deliberately non-repetitive Anti EP by Autechre, which advised DJs to “have a lawyer and a musicologist present at all times to confirm the non repetitive nature of the music in the event of police harassment.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, such theoretical or ontological depths were never plumbed by either side. When Club Vibe opened in 2006, owned by Baxendale, the old Niche DJs were brought back under fake names. JR, a Resident DJ and promoter at Niche, remembers - “When we first opened, Jamie Duggan was headlining, so they just named him something different, like Jamie Smith and the police didn’t catch on to it and I really don’t know how. All the punters knew who they were.” Officially, the music being played at that 21
time was not Bassline, though whether this is true very much depends on who you ask. The club’s relaunch is described as a full return to the Niche of old, following the lean years in which proper 4x4 Bassline was prohibited, although in reality this return has been a slow, pragmatic process. The Niche name first returned to Sheffield in 2008, and has been used every month for a night at Vibe. “Steve’s rapport with the police has built and built, and now they can use the name again” says JR. It seems that underlying the progress of Niche, and Bassline music itself, is a shrewd business mind. The new club is vast, containing three large rooms with a capacity of around 1500. At its centre is a small DJ booth which is completely caged in. This was originally put in place as the result of flying bottles, but is now firmly part of the atmosphere. DJs are appreciated with relentless banging on the cage from the crowd. The interior is a mix of vaguely classy furniture at one side, and all the utilitarian fittings required to accommodate so many people. The desired look, according to JR, is “urban,” and when we look around the finishing touches are being put to the fake ducts suspended from the ceiling of the new extension. On top of all this are all the brand embellishments around the club - an inexplicable Roman motif, which has apparently been toned down in comparison to the old club, which featured a whole variety of marble effect classical columns, mouldings, tiles and wall reliefs of various emperors. “Steve’s idea” according to JR. In addition to its security staff, the club employs a team of spotters at strategic points inside the club. These staff work to alert other security members of possible trouble through a visible warning system throughout the club. Buttons are connected to a set of lights displayed all around the club. This refreshingly analogue system alerts bouncers in the club that there is trouble brewing, and where it is. But for a club with such high security and door charges upwards of £10, the place is packed at least two nights a week. With an average bar spend near £40 per punter and a capacity of 1,400, it only takes a little bit of maths to see that this place rakes it in. When I asked about the clientele JR explained: “It attracts the same clientele as Sidney 22
street, but they’re better behaved now. The bigger the chain, the bigger the person. You can see why a lot of people don’t like coming here.” The most popular drinks are whisky, brandy and champagne. “We sell load of bottles of champagne a night, and it’s only cheap horrible stuff. If they’ve got a chain on, a bottle of Moet in their hand they think they’re great.” When asked about the security and safety, JR never seemed to flinch. “The atmosphere in the club is strange if you’ve never been, there’s a lot of different cultures and a lot of them don’t mix, but they’re all all right with each other... It’s weird how they find their own place. There is the odd incident that we don’t enjoy of course. But there’s hardly any trouble, we get maybe one fight a week, like a normal club.” JR was keen to deliver the message that Niche had moved on and that its dubious reputation should be left to history. “It’s the safest club in Sheffield. It’s still got a big stigma attached to it, a lot of young people won’t touch it.” Despite this reputation, he boasts that “people travel to come here, it’s the centre for bassline music. Probably the second biggest crowd is people from the Midlands, Birmingham, Wolverhampton.” He concludes, “It’s got its own followers, its own
“The desired look, is ‘urban,’ and when we look around the finishing touches are being put to the fake ducts suspended from the ceiling.”
The DJ Cage
scene. If you walk in here on a Friday or Saturday night, you won’t see anybody pissed or stumbling about. You’ll get the odd one at 4am whose had to much, but that is it. If you go to Embrace, ninety percent of people will be pissed, they go there to get drunk and pull. They come here because it’s a community. They come to Niche because it’s Niche. They wanna be seen in this place, here.” What is perhaps most interesting about Niche and Bassline is its economics. It’s easy to link the underlying circumstances of production to the surface appearance of the product; a cheap Marxist analogy about the industrial, productive city. We could talk about the spaces, the violence, the city itself and intractable elements of the character of Bassline. But this isn’t really the case. Niche is an amazing amalgamation of bedroom and boardroom, a huge local corporate beast that turns over millions of pounds. Whilst happily described as an underground club, Niche is acutely aware of its status as a national brand. In the past two years, Bassline has gained widespread appreciated through its releases on Ministry of Sound, and other acts making popular records. The Niche compilations sell over 100,000 copies, further linking the name of the club to the music itself. In addition to this, the club has in effect a monopoly on the music through the way that it controls the main DJs. All are contracted to the club, and rarely play anywhere else in the area. As Bassline has a particularly localised following, Niche remains the centre of gravity. A
The ages of Niche, Sidney Street 1995-2005 23
Kid Acne. I’ve Seen Worse A Serendipitous Body of Work BELIEVE YOU ME Sidney Street, Sheffield August 2009 Black / White / Olive Green / Magenta
FR: Vous pouvez m’en croire DE: Das kannste mir glauben
“ Since the Summer I’ve been painting a series of textbased murals around Sheffield. This started as a Research & Development project supported by the Arts Council, with the intention that it would lead to a HUGE piece of public art at Park Hill (Europe’s largest Grade ll listed building) during phase one of its redevelopment. This idea was first suggested to me by The Designers Republic and Urban Splash a few years ago, though has since been scrapped due to the recession and major financial cutbacks. I originally planned to collaborate with a few artists on a handful of murals in order to work through a bunch of ideas before embarking on this epic piece of work, until I stumbled upon a series of further logistical problems and in turn discovered this phrase work, which had been lying dormant in my sketch books and felt it needed exploring further. The initial themes of interest were ‘self deprecation’ and ‘back handed compliments’, inspired by the quintessentially British take on a New York youth movement (subway graffiti) combined with the comments I’d generally receive whilst painting in the street (most notably in Brazil last summer) - “I’ve Seen Worse” and “Better Than Nothing” for example. These lead to responses such as “You & Me Both Mate”, “It’ll Do For Now”, “Ain’t That The Truth” and “Never You Mind”. 24
LIVE & LEARN Heeley, Sheffield August 2009 Black / White / Racing Green / Magenta
FR: Vivre et Apprendre DE: Dumm gelaufen
YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP Park Hill September 2009 Black / White / Warp Purple / Party Yellow
FR: On ne pourrait pas l’inventer DE: Zu krass um wahr zu sein
THAT’LL LEARN ‘EM Cemetery Rd July 2009 Black / White / Teal / Salmon Pink
FR: Ça t’apprendra DE: Das wird ihnen eine Lehre sein
NEVER YOU MIND Neepsend, Sheffield August 2009 Black / White / Mustard / Rose Pink
THA KNOWS Park Hill September 2009 Black / White / Warp Purple / Party Yellow
FR: Ça ne te regarde pas! DE: Das ist nicht dein Bier
FR: Tu sais DE: Nicht wahr?
FR: Vous alllez me remercier un YOU’LL THANK ME ONE DAY jour ou l’autre Paternoster Row, Sheffield DE: Eines Tages wirst du mir noch October 2009 dankbar sein
DE: Da weisste bescheid
IT’LL DO FOR NOW Club Garden Walk June 2009 Black / White / Turquoise / Sky Blue
FR: Ça suffira en ce moment DE: Es ist ein Anfang
Black / White / Magenta / Mingus Green
YOU GET THE IDEA Park Hill September 2009 Black / White / Warp Purple / Party Yellow
YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE FR: Je vous manquerai lorsque je serai parti Psalter Lane May 2008 Black / White / Magenta / Plasma Blue
¿SABES LO QUE TE QUIERO DECIR? Barcelona July 2009 Black / White / Mingus Green
I’VE SEEN WORSE Barcelona July 2009 Black / White / Magenta / Plasma Blue
Last year I was also invited to paint a mural at Psalter Lane before the art college was inevitably closed down. I wanted the painting to sound as though it was the coming from the perspective of the building - the parting comments of a broken relationship - “You’ll Miss Me I’m Gone”, which I’m pretty sure anyone who ever used the place could relate to. This began another theme, with further titles including “It’s Not You It’s Me” and “You’ll Thank Me One Day”... The font is something I developed as a teenager when I began making fanzines and comics, (including Velcro Grass and Zebra Face) and although has evolved slightly and enlarged over the years, it’s pretty much remained the same since the mid 90’s. I experimented with various colourways for a while, until a friend kindly pointed out “it’s been historically proven that black and white has
Dan Sumption, this and opposite
impact”. So in terms of both font and colours, I decided to keep it simple and make it easy on myself. The background colours vary. Some are influenced by the surroundings, others are intended to contrast with them. The purple I used at Park Hill for example was matched to the pantone purple Warp use on their record sleeves. I thought this was a nice touch seeing as it was their 20th anniversary this year and I happened to be painting on site the week before they held part of their celebrations at Park Hill. As the Arts Council money soon ran out, this body of work has been gathering momentum and has become a real labour of love. I have at least half a dozen more lined up in Sheffield before I move on to other cities (“Oh My Days” in London for example). More long term I intend to paint these slogans throughout Europe, translating them into appropriate regional expressions and different languages, such as the Spanish one I painted on the beach in Barcelona earlier this year, which roughly translates as “You Know What I Mean”. Obviously, you can’t please everyone and there really is no point in trying to. You just end up diluting your output until people are indifferent. That said, I’m aware there is an audience and intend the work to be inclusive and engaging as oppose to self indulgent, which I think is important to remember when painting in the public domain. So far the response has been great, especially as it’s completely polarised. To me, this generally means you’re doing the right thing, so I’ll stick to the plan. Tha Knows.
YOU’LL THANK ME ONE DAY Persistence Works, Sheffield
“ Whilst “Fuck The Police” nicely trusses up a derelict building, “Fuck The Police Community Support Training Officers” is as difficult to comprehend as it is to pronounce. ”
Our thirst to learn more about security operations in Liverpool takes us straight to the Police Community Support Officers. Pitched up tight in a trailer, keeping watch over the public, their faces are marked with boredom. Close by, a troupe of B-boys perform for a gathering crowd, while the holy arches of McDonalds gleam softly overhead. We are dressed as dapper as three unemployed cub reporters can manage, all decked out in tweeds and gentlemanly hats from the 1930s, minding our Ps and Qs, clean as a whistle, neat as a pin. Nevertheless, it startles us when the officer we approach, without a flicker of distrust in his blue eyes, says “Sure, come in. Take a seat.” Immediately, this frank approach poses a challenge to our preconceptions. I recall the “Peace Wardens” in Sheffield’s city centre. A role limited to glaring at citizens passing by, with the occasional pause to reprimand the stray pop of a distant charmaine bottle. They always seemed like a needlessly imperious presence; an authority delegated to make people feel uncomfortable as they stopped for a moment to tie their shoelaces. I recall bouncers, and a night out when I was eighteen, waiting patiently outside a pub for some friends. Two enormous human cutlets, one of either gender, had tried to shear us from their path, then, when we stayed put, insisted that we would have to prove we were twenty-one if we wished to remain outside. While we reacted with astonishment, they sniggered and sent for the community support officers. It is pantomime operations such as these which often cast PCSTOs as amateurs in the public eye. Your own meddling neighbour granted all the power and influence of Mr Plod. This notion endures, perhaps, because there is something so quaintly British about the local busy-body who craves authority. The curtain-twitcher, the snitch, the grass and the killjoy. But cut out the guffaws and you are left with a representative of the Police who, in theory at least, is both approachable and integrated into his district. The officer we speak to, Matt, gives us a clearer outline of the responsibilities involved. He explains his role in terms of monitoring community welfare without putting forward an 33
intimidating presence. The local young people, he says, get to know the PCSTOs, but do not feel the urge to rail against them. “Fuck The Police” nicely trusses up a derelict building, after all, but “Fuck The Police Community Support Training Officers” is as difficult to comprehend as it is to pronounce. Matt admits, however, that most young people he met in his previous allocation were more aware of the law than the PCSTOs were, and knew exactly the limits of his capacities. The issue, then, is not that of empty authority. It is to do with non-existent authority, which, as it turns out, carries its advantages. In fact, this is precisely what makes PCSTOs such a valuable asset to law enforcement. It doesn’t take an accountant to determine how much less it costs to enrol, instruct and allocate trainee officers who are eager to gain vital experience. Matt shares a common attribute with many voluntary officers in that he is painfully young. If you look closely enough, you can see the patches he has missed shaving. He tells us about his plans to join the Police Service, and says that the tests and requirements for both roles are very similar, except that PCSTOs are not required to undergo a physical. A friend told him that out of the last twenty officers to join the Service, nineteen had been PCSTOs. PCSTOs, then, make sense on both sides of the equation. Without this prior training and exemplary performance, Matt would find it difficult to progress into the Police. This, for him, is a way of chalking up points. Funding certainly doesn’t appear to be a priority where such officers are concerned. The little shack of a Mobile Police Station is furnished with a few stools, a foldaway table, a map of Liverpool, an out-of-order toilet and a rather weary Duty Officer who, like a harried babysitter, informs us that recording the interview in any manner will require written permission from a council representative or police operative. PCSTOs might be mere trainees, but it seems that 34
their actions hold as much threat of liability as the average officer. More, perhaps, if you consider the disparaging light in which they are often cast. As we walk down the plank and back onto the street itself, we feel that we have cracked it. The phrase “police academy” is bandied around and we compare the city’s supervision set-up with similar projects in the Knowsley borough. Your humble reporters had once heard tell of a failed project there, so naturally we had chased the story. We chased it as far as the wilds of Kirkby. It had started out so brightly – a well-funded, temporary, noble scheme to help police the crime-ridden streets. Much like our new friend Matt, wardens were intended to provide a visible presence without any of the menacing connotations that often linger about the police. For the wardens, though, difficulties soon emerged. Nothing major, at first, merely problems of distribution. In certain areas, and on certain shifts, the scheme was a roaring success, even if it was only a drop in the ocean of Knowsley’s worries. However, the afternoon shifts, and those in the sleepier areas of the district were dismissed as a waste of resources. Furthermore, the initial program was temporary. If its tentative success was to be built on, a newly-structured, permanent set-up was required. Again, this began auspiciously enough: sixty-six permanent positions were created and quickly filled; new shifts were designated to the most troubled areas and the most troublesome hours; contracts were signed. Then, at the eleventh hour, the newly-appointed wardens pulled out. They violently opposed their new shifts, and demanded for their contracts to be renegotiated. The council refused, and after a protracted stand-off, the wardens were fired from the jobs they had never begun. As with the PCSTOs, it was a theoretically good idea, poorly implemented. Momentarily exhausted by all this talk of law enforcement, we approach our next destination. Liverpool’s Grand Central is an alternative
â€œ The issue, then, is not that of empty authority. It is to do with non-existent authority, which, as it turns out, carries its advantages â€? 35
shopping precinct which, in recent months, has been softly ebbing away, a different shop having closed each time you visit. Our concentration wanes, earnest discussions give way to childish impulses, and we each buy a milkshake and a bag of Skittles. Yet it seems that the security staff at the Grand Central are no more vigilant in their role than we are. We note a vacant chair in a cubbyhole, besides which a crime novel and log-book lie untouched. There is nobody we can interview. We scram.
“ We note a vacant chair in a cubbyhole, besides which a crime novel and log-book lie untouched. There is nobody we can interview. We scram. ” The contrast between this mall and its rather more commercial cousin, Liverpool One, could hardly be more pronounced. The latter bustles with red-shirted security staff, who patrol the forty-two acres of private land with unfaltering precision. This is curious when you consider that the shopping centre is al fresco. Cruising its walkways and escalators, your lungs lap up oxygen – no air-conditioned molecules for you. Surely this level of security is unwarranted for an outdoor space? However, as with other developments such as Canary Wharf, private land engenders private morality. It is the property developer Grosvenor who have appropriated this space, and security measures are instated at their discretion. We don’t feel like quizzing the staff about their power over us, and so, knees knocking, we bottle it. Fortunately, on our way out, an acquaintance at the pasty stall manages to slip us a few piping-hot 38
freebies which we clasp lovingly to our chests. We thank the acquaintance heartily. It is a victory of free speech in a highly expensive empire. ”A victual of free speech,” someone offers. “Get out.” Suddenly gloomy, and losing heart in tired dystopian nightmares, we decide to end our tour upon sunnier pastures and head for the Maritime Museum. The attendant we speak to greets us with a smile and answers our questions readily. Although his role is not principally concerned with safeguarding – this generally falls to other employees hired by the company, who spend their days gaping into a monitor – he is usually based on a particular floor, where he keeps an eye on proceedings and talks to the visitors about the displays, or whatever else interests them. A key requirement of the job is to smile patiently when American tourists enquire which hotels their ancestors stayed at prior to emigrating. Next he guides us to a small corner devoted to the Lancastria, a Cunard liner which was sunk in 1940 with more casualties than the Titanic and Lusitania combined. We had never heard of it, and feel almost guilty as we stare at a wristwatch and passenger menu in the glass cabinet before us. In this capacity, then, the role of security is chiefly concerned with engaging with visitors, drawing their attention to items they might not have noticed and encouraging any curiosity they might have. It’s closing time at the museum, however, and our tweeds are beginning to itch. We decide to end our journey as we launched it, and stroll past the mobile unit where Matt and his colleagues are stationed. Their faces are grim, and they stare into the street with all the enthusiasm of schoolboys counting up hats at a church sermon. Mr Plod, at least, had a charming village green to saunter about on. Mr Plod had it made. A
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Shops, currently exhibiting at Site Gallery, Sheffield is the culmination of a two year international project by artists Rebecca French and Andrew Mottershead. The artists have travelled extensively in this period, investigating the communities and relationships that are formed around shops. The gallery show is a presentation of some of the material they have amassed, ranging from formal photographs of shops and their customers to documents of their process and interviews with shoppers around the world. Let’s start with your current exhibition. What will someone see when they walk into it? Rebecca: They are looking at traces
of events that have happened in local shops around the world. So in each case we have worked with local shops by asking them to invite
their customers to do a sort of performative event in front of the cameras that somehow represents our experience of being in that shop. The end result could be a photograph, it could be a video, it could be a text or a publication. In a way, the shops are almost incidental. Rather, in a way what you get is a sort of portrait of an element of that country or that city, or some kind of values or some kind of community that exist around shops. Shops are a kind of filter for us, rather than the main focus. The focus for us is more people and places and the identity of the people around those shops. You said you posed people for the photos. How did that work? R: We set a time for people to arrive
and then whoever turned up, say one
person or fifty people, we put them together and placed them or posed them. If there were a lot of people, then maybe they were posed quite still and if there were fewer we asked them to be more playful and perform out their relationships to the shop or their relationships to each other. Then we took a lot of photos. Andrew: But this is a description primarily of the group photos strategy where it’s not really us doing the inviting. It’s the shopkeepers themselves who we asked to invite their customers. So it’s subverting their relationship between buyer and seller. And the idea of this just being an exchange of money to goods is changed into a sort of personal invitation from me to you to come and be a part of our gang, our group photo outside the shop. It’s a question of identity. Do you want to be a part of this picture? Do you not 41
want to be a part of this picture? But then we kind of formulated other kinds of strategies, other than the group photos. These were more akin to the sort of nature of the shop or the nature of the commerce. So its some times double portraits, sometimes solo portraits of customers looking through kind of kiosk holes. You’ve got quite got quite a lot of elements of human geography in your work. Do you consider yourself as artists first and foremost? R: Artists only! A: It’s such a broad term isn’t it. And it isn’t to say that we are not interested in human geography and, we do interact with it in some ways. I have bought the the books and read the books. For example Peter Jackson, a professor at the University of Sheffield, I read a book of his “Maps of Meaning” which has been very helpful to my practice. And on this project, he is writing a piece for our book. And I thought, yeah, super. It seemed a pretty good fit. He has an interest in the geography of shopping.
So I think we do have a practice, in process similar to human geography research. But really, what is research? It’s just going and speaking to people and recording it, and then at some point analysing it, to support your hypothesis, except we don’t go in with a hypothesis. R: All we come out with is a nice
photo and a lot of stories!
So instead of going in with a hypothesis, you go in with an intervention?
Istanbul, Turkey 42
A: Yes. It is the intervention which is there to try and shed some insight on life. Either for those living that life,
and they are unaware. Asking them to question again how they relate to their shops and communities. Or in the gallery, with the people looking at it. The exhibition takes in a large range of places and shoppers. How did you manage to link these disparate places together? Was it through a method when you got there? R: Yeah, we did a blog as we went
along. And, its the show that links them together. I mean they weren’t explicitly linked. We knew we wanted to do something with shop when we got there.
A: Also that we had the same equipment, the same camera and video camera a clip board and an approach and a question about shops.
So, you walked in and said I’d like to do something with you and then you did it. When it came to taking the photos, how did it work? R: Half we took ourselves, you
know just on a sort of Wednesday afternoon. But if we were taking a photo of say fifty people, then it was really helpful to have someone to deal with the technical aspects. So we’d chose the frame and then direct someone. Then we would set them up and sort of place and pose everybody, and then when it came to take the photo, they could do all the sort of technical bits to make it look good. But also to do things like say, look at the camera, in the appropriate language from behind the camera
A: For example, there are eleven pictures from the butcher in Istanbul and seven were taken by us and then the other four by a local photographer. It depends on who’s around. And, unfortunately it was budget as well, if we could afford to have a professional photographer follow us around all the time it would be amazing! R: Yes, so we just used them when we
thought it would be useful. But it’s a kind of technical collaboration, not a creative one. We planed exactly how it would look, and then they would show up at four o’clock or whatever. It’s hugely planned, we plan everything. How did you choose the places?
A: they come about through different means. Sometimes you chose them and sometimes they choose you. A lot of it was dictated by funding.
What sort of reactions have you had in different places? A: There’s a whole bunch of things going on in these photographs and videos which make it kind of complicated. You address that you have one point of view coming from one culture. For example, here you might say ‘Yeah, we’re being supermarket-ised’ and the grow your own at home is becoming a part of our culture as a positive thing... and then you go to somewhere like Romania, where it is a sort of opposite. The supermarkets are fashionable. And the home grown is being eroded, slowly. There is no one overarching thing that we are trying to communicate with the exhibition. Instead, we are trying to show everything together. To suggest the scope of potential of different societies through their shops. And there is the opportunity to compare one with the other, and to make connections if necessary. Or see differences, and for those differences to be embraced.
Are there any surprising themes that come through or that the project might be about? A: In a way, the project is about control. One thing I really like about the shops the we have been looking out for is this aspect of control they either have or don’t have over their daily routine and their lives.
Can you elaborate on that? R: Well we tried to make a project
with a big supermarket in Romania. And I went to see the marketing director about it and she loved the project and that she absolutely wanted to do something with us. All she had to do was to check it out with her head office, and it’s a yes. And then it never happened. They never got back to us. So to contrast that with a small shop, where it is just the owner and you go in and can make a face to face decision. It’s up to them, they say yes or no. Everyone is in positions of personal power within their own lives. In China for example, institutions made it really problematic for us to do anything.
But on a small independent shop basis people have that power over their lives. A: Sometimes it fails as well, because people have control and influence. We went to a sex shop in Norwich called the Love Store. And the owner of it was really great and loved the idea. But his employee was less so, and it was his employee that was the main face. So it completely fell flat. And I quite liked that, that he had the control within himself, to not do something he didn’t want to do. R: Whereas, when you work for Tesco,
you have to follow the party lines some times.
At the beginning of the interview you said something about portraits of cities? R: They present a portrait of that
city at that time. For example, in Istanbul there is this butcher’s shop, fairly close to the city centre, in this neighbourhood where people migrated to from Eastern Turkey all at the same time. So all these people know each other, they have grown up together, and there is a lot of trust in this neighbourhood. So when you’ve got a photograph of people who then trust the butcher with their door keys and then the parents who ask the the butcher to look after their children and that says something kind of specific about the closeness and the trust that is in that neighbourhood in a way that we wouldn’t have had at the kiosk at Romanian.Which is more about people wanting Monte Carlo cigarettes or uni-rear butter which says something more about communism and shifting patterns of consumption. So I think in each place, the shops do say quite about the places they are in. But then we know it’s there, and perhaps you’d have to tell us if you saw that from looking at the work and not knowing the back stories.
A: Of course the back stories are there, they are hinted at. I like the fact that we can draw a parallel, once in Istanbul, between the woman that buys the chicken for her pet cat. the pet cat eats the same chicken that is sold to the best restaurants or hotels in the posher side of Istanbul. So there is this image of just knowing he supplies both, and you get rich people eat cat food and cats eating posh chicken. A 43
New Land, 2009
jim brodgen ‘Signs of Life’ is a new exhibtion at Project Space Leeds featuring Herzongby Matthew Shelton and photographs from Jim Brogden’s series Terra Nullius. Translating as ‘no-man’s land’, this series explores abandoned and unused non-spaces around Leeds. Without function, these areas slowly become reclaimed by wildlife, or reveal traces of feral habitation. Jim is interested in how such places are created or threatened by rebuilding and gentrification, particularly around the canal, which is slowly being transformed from a wasteland of carparks and old railway lines into a stylish district for young professionals. Jim is an artist and lecturer in design at Leeds University. Article caught up with him at the opening. Do you want to start by telling me about the pieces you chose for this exhibition? It’s an interesting question: it was a collaborative choice. I gave the curators fifty images, which they gradually whittled down to nine, which are not all the same ones I would have chosen. But at this stage of a five year old project it is good for other people to
interact with the archive. The titles of the works are important, and they are quite contentious. They are kind of ironically charged and they deliberately conflate notions of landscape and the terminology of landscape history with the terms of landscape property and speculation. I’m posing those problems to the spectator. New Land has got an epic quality, as though we are pioneers opening up a new landscape, when in fact its probably new land for a warehouse. You have lived in Leeds a long time. Do you want these works to comment on Leeds in particular, or do the photos just emerge from whatever you come cross when you are out and about? I am often asked about the autobiographical aspect of the photographs. I think it’s a position I need to retreat from because it limits the nature of the work. Yes, I was a boy in Leeds, and people seem to be attracted to the nostalgia. But for me, the work represents the universal view I have about space and landscape. These are photos of Leeds, but also every city - Chicago, Shanghai. These
are everyman experiences, they are not just about a particular bit of LS11. I don’t want them limited to, ‘this is by a local guy who grew up in the area’. It seems to make it far more prosaic than it should be. How do you go about choosing the sites? My sites are discovered through personal memory, but also walking as well. I view the act of walking as one of the key decisions. Never mind pressing the shutter; the walking is where the shot takes place – it’s part of the creative process. It’s about finding the space, choosing which walls to climb, which fences to squeeze through. These are all creative decisions which make the project interesting. You have said before that these nonspaces, or non-places, might have the potential to be commemorative. Do you think we are lacking in memorial spaces? Commemorative is a big word, and one that I’ve used in my writing. The idea of a space that is not coded interests me. I think too much of the way we experience cities is becoming homogenized. The key word is 45
Like Holbeck Urban Village palimpsest: I see these spaces as important because they’ve got the ability to trigger layers of different personal histories, different memories. In that sense the space is a kind of archaeological site, which will be slightly different depending on which city you explore. In some way they commemorate ordinary lives. These are not pioneers of the empire or heroes; these are spaces that represent ordinary peoples’ lives. They are usually in the poorer or marginalised areas of cities. It is personal history that is quickly eroded, and we need to commemorate different forms of collective memory. In a way it’s a kind of memory of a working class as well. I think that whole question of working class and memory is being revisited by historians in the UK especially. So these kinds of spaces could be used as layers of human history. Do you think that’s an idea that has got more pressing in Leeds recently, which is being regenerated so quickly? Yes, these areas which the image represent are becoming more and more precious in a way, because of rapid regeneration especially along the canal, this whole area. 46
Yes, that’s where this project emanates from. It started with the Royal Armouries, that was the central petal, the epicentre of the ripple of regeneration. That fast pace has made these areas even more important and more exotic, in a way: rare spaces, spaces that are not too neat, that haven’t been sanitized through municipal intervention. There’s the whole issue of habitat as well. The area that I used to visit near the armouries has been scraped away for this new development (which has now been arrested). Before that happened, I would see birds of prey there, different animals and insects. Biodiversity is another question of the project. These spaces are not just Brownfield sites, they are important. A bit like the old Attercliffe site in Sheffield. I remember Dr. David Bellamy went to the site before Meadowhall was built, and said that there were more important species here than anywhere in England, but the shopping centre would be built over it. This recognition that spaces were not wasteland, they were interesting areas of biodiversity, was measured by David Bellamy about 20 years ago in Sheffield: I’m certainly not the first person to investigate the nature of these paradoxical spaces.
Exhibiting at PSL is an important part of that. I couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate gallery. It is right in the heart of the zone of reference, so PSL is a perfect place to show the work. PSL itself is in this regenerated, young professional apartment block, owned by Kevin Linfoot, who’s a famous property developer, so it’s a very appropriate context, and I appreciate the opportunity to show the work. There are different ways people have been tackling this kind of issue, such as Mark Dion’s ‘Thames Tate Dig’. Why do you choose photography to explore and represent non-spaces? Recently I have been thinking about photography in terms of embalming landscape. I’m, interested in the funereal aspect of photography. The photos I’m showing at PSL are relics of the sites themselves. Its quite complex to unpack; this is about the nature of photography. But I don’t think of them as mere documents of spaces. The photo itself is a relic. As soon as you take the photo it becomes a moment of time that can never be experienced again, so the idea of embalming these spaces that are under threat; I quite like that theme. A
Man About Town: Todayâ€™s issues now.
Lieutenant Geoffrey-Crispin Tiffin Hellier
I have to keep reminding myself that we actually did win the war. Every time I walk through the city centre I see a defiance of history as some Germans have decided to set up camp by the Peace Gardens, and invade the country by attempting to sell fizzy larger at ÂŁ3.50 a half litre. Mines a pint of strong Stout down the Brown Bear, thank you very much. But so it is, with deutsches christmas markts, we know we are entering the festive season. Phase two is for every club/bar/gig/event to be titled christmas, or worse x-mas, special. Three is the mass desertion of the city by its young population. And four is a good bottle of port with a strong stilton and the Queen's Speech! Then it is back to the quotidian drudge of civilian life. But in time for phase two, it seems almost every venue in town has ignored the economic down turn and decided to re-decorate. Street artist PUD has painted the walls of the beer garden in time for winter at the Frog and Parrot. DQ has been given a one over by illustrator Geo, providing a wall of his dreamy swirls. The Bowery have reportedly spent their entire budget on plastic ducks, and Sawa have kitted out a what was previously a bit of a dive into a fresh urban watering hole. Still, our dream for a dingy converted warehouse where only bottled beer is served to a strict regime of Cosmic Disco has not been realised. But if we really wanted that we would just move. In other news, Sheffield has just begun its bid to become the first UK City of Culture in 2013. I for one am quite excited about this. For a start, it means someone may actually have to define what Culture is, something this publication has struggled with since its inception. Two, once we have identified what indeed Culture may be, Sheffield is going to set about to prove it is full of it, more so than Ipswich, Southend-on-Sea and Hull, to name but a few of our competitors. This abstract task, hopefully, should be very fun to watch and we look forward to the realisation of some very general wording.
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