By Way of Returns

Page 1

By way of


CONTENTS

Curatorial Note

_ 02

Artists in Conversation

_ 04

Ting-Ting Cheng

04

Ross Hammond

10

abirdwhale | Kakinoki Masato

16

Participants Biographies

_ 22

Reading List

_ 23

Credits and Acknowledgements

_ 24


CURATORIAL NOTE A general i m p r e s s i o n towards historical writings has considered them to be reliable records of past events or situations. Refuting their claim to universal authority and allencompassing viewpoint, artist Dora Garcia has written about how the tissues of history are formed by truths that ‘[belong] to a group of people who have agreed that things are a given way because that way is more convenient to their present interests or more conducive to their survival’.1 Her text points toward the essential, if not intentional, bias of historical narratives while opening fields of enquiry into the commonly accepted. Building upon Garcia’s idea, By Way of Returns seeks to rethink the ways in which historical narratives are constructed through artistic practices that uncover and perform unfulfilled potentials of the past. It examines the normative model of historical writing, which is predominantly topdown, statistics-dominated and heroicfigure-centred, and challenges the notion of history being stratified state-of-beings. Specific to the areas of New Cross and Deptford in Southeast London, where the participating artists have resided, studied or worked for varying spans of time, this project looks into the local histories that have been contested with issues surrounding 02

migration, race, gentrification and the neoliberal system. The artists have taken, what art h i s t o r i a n Rebecca Schneider terms, ‘a porous approach to time’ 2, disrupting its linearity through embarking on their backward, or even multi-directional, exploration of the local histories. They work to interweave the practices of archival, field and genealogical research with affective components such as personal recollections, sensorial perception and fictional re-imaginings. Presented in the forms of video, performance and mixed-media installation, their works delineate alternative paths in reaching back to the past, to contemplate its relevance in the current society.

2 March 1981 (2018) presents Ting-Ting Cheng’s revisit to the anti-racism march on the Black People’s Day of Action, which protests against the police and media’s indifference toward the investigation of New Cross House Fire, a blaze that took the lives of 14 young black people. With excerpts of a BBC documentary inserted, the three-hour video comprises footages made from the artist’s first person perspective when she re-walked the entirety of the march. Verbal recollections from three march participants are


intercut with the artist’s repetition of their accounts. Together with the synchronised colour-coded subtitles and the installation of a treadmill, the work prompts its audience to ponder the interrelation among the protest, themselves and the world they live in through their physical reexperiencing. In a comical lecture, Ross Hammond embodies a fictional genealogist to narrate the story of his ancestor, Sir Uncle Georgy (2019), whose mobilisation to an upper social status has been largely mythologised by his family. The character pinpoints how his recent placement at Goldsmiths, a New Cross-based higher education institution, is justified through his ancestor’s previous position as a tutor. Coupled with the use of gentleman essentials such as leather shoes and classist languages, his image grows to overlap with that of his ancestor. The unfitness of the objects and the overly exaggerated remarks, however, expose his failure to personify the ‘greatness’ of Uncle Georgy. Through these gestures, Hammond calls into question the ingrained system of class, meritocracy and neoliberalism. abirdwhale | Kakinoki Masato’s engagement with the local area and its inhabitants has been rendered visible In Attempts to Build

Love Relationships with Deptford (2019). Consciously and proactively

mapping both his and several locals’ emotional experiences, the artist has looked into patterns of human beings’ attachments toward a geographical location. His six months of field research has been largely conversation-led, with a story of migration leading to another about someone’s comingof-age. Taking the form of an essay film, the work has integrated voices from various individuals with the artist’s textual and visual response. While each component stands independently, the film as a whole gestures towards an affective and personal respect that is usually absent in the writing of history.

I-Ying Liu 25th November 2019

1 Garcia, Dora. (2017). ‘To protect us from the

truth’. Fiction as method. Berlin: Sternberg Press, p.172. 2 Schneider, Rebecca. (2011). ‘Foreword – By

way of other directions’. Performing remains: Art

and war in times of theatrical reenactment. London: Routledge, p.6.


ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION: Ting-Ting Cheng I-Ying: Let’s start by discussing the title of your work, 2 March 1981. What happened on that day? Ting -Ting : We need to go back to the morning of 18 January. But before I start, I would like to make it clear that, as an immigrant living in New Cross, I strongly sympathise with what happened. However, I am fully aware that I am not an expert of, or someone who was personally involved in the incident or the march. As an artist, I believe what happened was a historical event worth being discussed; however, I am also aware that it’s a painful memory and reality for many people whose loved

2 March 1981 (map of the route), 2018. 04

ones were involved. It’s a matter that should never be talked about lightly. I would like to apologise if the project, in any way, cause anyone’s discomfort. It is not the intention of the project, although this cannot be used as an excuse. On 18 January 1981, a fire occurred during a party at a house in New Cross and took the lives of 14 young black people. The cause of the fire remains unknown till this day. It was a time when racial tension was high, and related hate crimes committed in the form of petrol bombs were not rare. Many believe that the fire was one of them. However, the authorities did not take the matter as seriously as they should. Media and politicians made biased implications. All of this caused anger among the people who cared. In this context, the New Cross Massacre Action Committee was born. It organised the


Black People’s Day of Action on 2 March 1981, as one of the biggest peaceful racial protests in the British history. Around 25,000 people participated in the 8-hour march, walking all the way from Fordham Park in New Cross to Hyde Park in central London. IY: How did you come across this historical event? What drives you to make a work on it? TT: Honestly, I forgot how I found out about the event, but I do remember how I felt when I came across it. I think, at the time, I had been living in New Cross for more than five years, and I was surprised that I didn’t know about the event. I instantly felt that I wanted to do something about it. And I believe that a year later I made this project. IY: One thing special about this work is that it’s way longer than most of the video works we've seen. You actually reenact the demonstration by re-walking the entirety of its original route and present most of the process in the work. How have you come to this decision? TT: The decision was made quite intuitively - I wanted to participate in the march. It was not

p o s s i b l e , obviously, s i n c e i t happened almost 40 years ago, but I wanted to experience what it was like in the march. So the first decision of the project I made was to find out the exact route and then try to walk it. I believe that experiencing something is more effective than just observing or being informed. That’s the same reason I invite the audience to walk with me. IY: Several excerpts from your interviews with three of the march participants recur over and again in the video. Your own voice and the colour-coded subtitles also add to the layers of repetition. What’s your thought behind this? TT: Just like the reason of walking the route, I was trying to experience the march as much as I could. So I interviewed the participants of the march, trying to be informed about what it was like being there. After the interviews, I was drawn to the ways the memories were recollected and told: the emotion, the rhythm, and the blankness between the lines. Then I decided, once again, to reenact what happened; yet instead of walking, I tried to embody the participants, recalling the the memories of the event through reading the exact words in the


exact speed of their recollections. I was trying to create a simulation of the march, and put myself, and the audience, in it. That’s why, apart from reading the memories m y s e l f, I a l s o u s e k a r a o k e like coloured subtitles to invite the audience to read with me,

2 March 1981 (still), 2018.

either out loud or in their minds. IY: Much of your knowledge about this historical event comes as a result of your research visits to the George Padmore Institute. Can you briefly introduce this organisation to us and talk about the process of working with thier archive? How do you then make use of the materials in the video? TT: I feel that I am not the best 06

person to introduce George Pa d m o r e I n s t i t u t e ( G P I ) , t h e amazing, historical organisation. However, I am happy to share what I know about it and encourage people to visit. According to their website, ‘ [GPI] is an archive, educational research

and information centre housing materials relating mainly to the black community of Caribbean, African and Asian descent in Britain and continental Europe. [It] was set up in 1991 by a group of people connected with New Beacon Books, Britain's first black publisher and bookshop’. The founder of New Beacon Books, John La Rose, was also the chairman of New Cross Massacre Action Committee. All the archival materials of the committee were


then donated to GPI. Once I found out that the archives of the Committee were housed in GPI’s premises around Finsbury Park, I scheduled a visit there with their archivist Sarah, who was more than helpful in locating all the items I requested and looking for march participants who were willing to talk to me. I am very thankful for her help. In terms of the materials I used in this project, the most important one is the exact route of the march (see the figure on p.4), including the names, the order of the streets and other details. I also found the meeting notes of how the route was decided, which was interesting but not directly used in the project. The other material I used is a 20-minute BBC news clip. In it, the presenter interviewed the police,

2 March 1981 (still ), 2018.

the committee, the family members of the victims, the protesters...etc., with commentaries. What I did first was trying to dictate the words they said. With the voices being fleeting, I could only type down fragmented sentences at a time. I was fascinated by the process. In the second dictation, I tried to fill in the blanks in the first dictation. And so on. Only until the 8th dictation did I complete the full script. And then, like what I did with the recordings of the interviews, I tried to ‘be’ the different voices in the news clip by reading out each version of the dictations at the exact spots on the timeline, and then overlapped one after another. For me, it is an attempt to capture the fleeting memories, which have been inherently fragmented. IY: In this work, you have adopted methods such as first person


2 March 1981 ( participants viewing/ walking/ experiencing the work ), 2018.

shots and grassroots archival research to investigate and revisit the history of New Cross House Fire. In what ways do these methods reflect your view on the conception of history? TT: Hmmmm…I think for me, to speak simply, history is composed of things that happened in the past. And to talk about things that happened in the past, I think ‘being informed as much as possible’ is important: hence the research and the interviews, and ‘experiencing them as much as possible’ is also important: hence the walking and embodying. Lately I got fascinated by the concept of ghosts. I feel that societies, cities, streets and us are all haunted by the ghosts of the past. And the ghosts here are 08

nothing negative. I feel that history is not like hands moulding the present; instead, it presents itself in the form of ghosts, overlapped with one another, hovering above us, or onto us, and we live within/ among them. IY: That well explains why you keep going back in time in this and many other of your works, coz history is ubiquitous. T T : Ye a h , r e - e x a m i n i n g t h e history has been at the core of my practice. I feel like if we are haunted by the past, but we don’t know what the past is like, then there’s no way we could understand the context we are in. Our life and society now are largely shaped by or accumulated


from what has happened previously; we just can’t get rid of it. I also think that the act of re-examining has to be performed constantly. We do it now, and then there might be another urgency ten years later which requires us to look back at certain historical moments again. IY : Another reason that pushes people to re-examine the past might be because a lot of knowledge we have about the past is given to (or even imposed on) us by the mass media, which, as we all know, is likely to be biased. I guess what artists can do or are doing is to not only reference the mainstream media but also take the memories of individuals into account. And therefore proposing alternative ways into history. TT: I don’t believe in ‘unbiased’. Everyone is biased. Every piece of information comes with a perspective. For me, the problem is not ‘bias’ itself. It’s more about whose voice is heard. I would say that it’s not my intention to overthrow an existing narrative, but to revisit or re-examine it from a contemporary perspective. Using alternative ways (other than official or mass media narrative) to examine history is something important for me. I don’t believe there can be a

‘full picture’, but at least I would like to offer an alternative, personal perspective for the audience to view what happened. Like we talked about last time, searching as a form of creating.

This text is edited for length and clarity.


ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION : Ross Hammond I-Ying : The combination of ‘sir’ and ‘uncle’ seems to make you title (Sir Uncle Georgy) a nonsensical word. What’s the purpose of juxtaposing them? Ro s s : The reasoning behind putting ‘Sir’ and ‘Uncle’ together is partly to make it sound ridiculous and nonsensical. It’s also that the character I’m embodying wants you to know that this person he is talking about is possibly a ‘Sir’, as in the sense of nobility and that they are also related to him, hence the ‘uncle’. It’s almost a bit snobbish and pretentious. Also the ‘Georgy’ bit, coz I want to belittle him slightly. You would normally only call someone Georgy when they’re a child. So I wanted this kind of juxtaposition: he being a ‘Sir’, ‘Uncle’, two words only associated to someone who’s powerful or old; and then putting ‘Georgy’. IY : And who is this Sir Uncle Georgy? R : The George E. Clark, which is the name of the person I’m referring to, is one of my ancestors. My relationship with him is through my family's adoration of him and talking about him in story, in an almost mythical sense. He owned a group of colleges in England and became very wealthy. 10

It’s passed down, these achievements of his, through stories and the fact that four generations have the name George. Through family research, we found out more about him and his odd connections to me via Goldsmiths. He’s probably ‘the’ most famous person in my family tree, with the rest being mostly farmers or working people.

Photo of George E. Clark.

IY: To narrate the story of Uncle Georgy, you create and embody a historian/genealogist to deliver a lecture. What’s behind the choice of this specific character/ occupation? And why in the form of a lecture? R: I guess they both flow into the idea of who Sir Uncle Georgy is and who the narrator is, and they


are largely the same person. The narrator or the storyteller, the person I’m performing, which is a version of myself, is someone who is full of nostalgia and idealises the past and the idea of nationalism. Distantly related to me, he (or his previous success as a tutor at Goldsmiths) is a proof of my ability to study at Goldsmiths. And I’m functioning within that. Embodying a genealogist as a character feels natural to me, since I used do that as a profession. I know how other genealogists sometimes talk. Delivering it as a lecture makes complete sense because normally histories are told to us in that way. Also when you meet a genealogist or even family members who have found out stuff, they’d lecture at you in an authoritarian sort of way. Like ‘I’m gonna tell you the facts and look at what I’ve found’. It can be quite ridiculous. It’s quite rare that these people are professionallytrained genealogists. They mostly do it as a side job, which is also what I did. So I wanted to embody this amateur/professional relationship that functions around it. IY : Alongside your performance is the display of a picture of Sir Uncle Georgy (left) and several accessories such as a bowler hat,

a pair of gloves and leather shoes. You also make use of them when delivering the lecture. How do they serve the purpose of this work? R : I wanted the display to look like a shrine in some respects. The idea that these are precious items passed down through the family. They are the proof of the family’s heritage. I wanted the gloves I put on during the lecture to function in both ways: on the one hand, they look like those you would use to handle objects; on the other hand, they resemble those worn by Uncle Georgy in the photo. As I carry on, I start putting on other objects, to be a visual representation of me believing that I’m transforming into this man, a mythology of him. But none of them quite fit and I’m still in modern day clothing. So I kinda look ridiculous. The oversized shoes also play on the pun, trying to fill shoes that are too big to fill. And then finished with the hat, which kinda reminded me of Charlie Chaplin. I’m interested in how the value of these objects is normally implied by them being static (at a museum or as part of an archival display) and I’m aiming to dissipate their shrine-ness/ value through mis/overusing them.


The research process I go through is very much narrative-led. I collected materials from what my dad/family said or what other people have written about him, and explored it almost like one would do for a novel. I tried to find stuff out, find the connections, and replant them back into the work and let them play out. There is a bit in the performance, where I act as one of my aunties. I wanted to use that as a method to show how those connections happen with Sir Uncle Georgy (installation shot), 2019.

IY: Just as Sir Uncle Georgy, most of your works are drawn from what has happened in your family. Can you talk about the research process into these relatively intimate materials and how you utilise and transform them in this work? R : What I found interesting is the way my family spoke about him. And it being very much a glorification of someone they didn’t know. It’s sort of passed down. This person made it from ‘nothing’, who built all his colleges and did extremely well, even though he left his family in destitution. This man could’ve done more than he did, a lot more. I found it very strange that they always talked about him in such a glorified way, given that he really did nothing for them. 12

that kind of silly voice that I made up. Of course my auntie doesn’t talk like that and I don’t say which auntie she is, which is good I think (laugh); I merge them all into one character. IY: I’m also very much intrigued by your intentional use of classist languages that exposes some absurdity in the story you tell. Can you expand on this? R: The position of the performance, being connected to Goldsmiths in some way was very important because of my placement within Goldsmiths as well. He (Uncle Georgy) taught there and I am there now, although in very different circumstances.


But also how the institution itself functions as a gatekeeper of those who are educated. You study in university, and you suddenly become middle class in some people’s eyes. So the language that I use in the performance is quite snobbish, and very much looks down on those that the character considers beneath them, which exposes the character’s desire to retain a placement in that upper social status. To be allowed, you have to let go of where you come from before. I was interested in that: how you may not know certain things when you go to university. They are quite terrifying knowledge-based places. Everyone assumes, for instance, that you know what neoliberalism is. But if you don’t know what a bacon butty (sandwich) is, no one’s gonna care. Playing out the cultural hegemony. That’s why I wanted to play around my use of classist language.

IY : And how the use of these languages, or the work as a whole, relate to your research interest in the conception of meritocracy? R : Meritocracy is at the core of this work. In it, I reiterate the idea of how a person can seem to come from nothing, and still achieves something, and how people attribute all the success to his hard work without considering his background and the resources he has. Since Thatcher and growing up in this country, meritocracy is the underlying core of everything. But it doesn’t really work at all. This meritocratic point of view is very prevalent in my family. They think if someone’s clever, they’d go to university. Yet my dad is clever; but he didn’t go to university. It’s almost like a selfimpliedness of what your worth is, in the form of meritocracy. If you don’t value yourself, you are not gonna think you deserve to go to uni. That kind of problem is systemic. And I wanted to expose the ridiculousness of the argument.

Postcard of Goldsmiths with a begger to the left of the entrance.


Ah right, and the gesture. Obviously me dressing up as that figure, trying to assimilate to a person and acting in a certain way to reinforce the conception of meritocracy and the language I’m using is the embodiment of that character. The character is enacting an ideal of what someone should be acting in that place. If I act right and say the right things, people would think I deserve to be here and no one would know I’m not from here.

have the space to exaggerate and to say things that maybe were regurgitated from somewhere else. I think, as an artist, you’re allowed to go down and talk about subjects from/for different perspectives. The idea of fiction also does that as well. I mean you can create a vantage point that didn’t exist before, a new window to then look into, and it still has a power. IY: What you just said reminds me of a conversation between Samuel Delany and Joanna Russ. Discussing about the function of science fiction, Russ said, ‘ [it] is a natural, in a way, for any kind of radical thought. Because it is about Sir Uncle Georgy (documentation still), 2019.

IY: In this and several other works, you’ve either made up a fictional character, scenario or backdrop to critique a historical event or figure. How has this method helped you in developing the works? In your opinion, what agency does fiction possess in artists revisiting history? R: I found it slightly freeing. I could still be myself, and talk about something, without having it be a concentrated version of myself. I could pretend to enact a character that was me but not and I’ll still 14

things that have not happened and do not happen. It's usually placed in the future, but not always. It's very fruitful if you want to present the concerns of any marginal group, because you are doing it in a world where things are different’. R : Exactly. You can sometimes create power for those who didn’t have power in the original historical event. Coz a lot of those issues are still on the line. A work that’s mostly talked about would be Jeremy Deller’s The Battle of


Orgreave (2001). It allows a reinvestigation of people’s original placement in the conflict and the fact that the miners were reenacting it and then taking some roles of the police that were against them. Changing perspective of the event. It can never be the same. IY: Totally. Right, my last question: Are you reading anything that informs your practice or the work you are showing particularly? R : One is The Ministry of Nostalgia, which highlights how the past can be negotiated, and used in a way that’s not historically correct. It’s a story. Sort of what I’m doing in the performance; I’m telling a story. But I’m doing it from a certain point of view. And that’s what nostalgia is. We all can be nostalgic of the past. Also Don Quijote, which is a satiristic novel written about someone who has delusions about himself, believing himself to be a heroic knight. He’s gone mad through reading a plethora of chivalric trashy novels. He attacks windmills, believing them to be giants, etc. I like the idea that he’s trying to re-live or re-create something that’s never existed. It's a fictional recreation of the past. That I feel is one of the major things that I am attempting to do.

This also feeds in with City of Glass in Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. It points references of Don

Quijote. But in the book there are four different Paul Auster ‘s’. So there’s the Paul Auster, the real author, and a Paul Auster writing a book about a guy called Paul Auster. The method of narrative is like, you don’t know who’s talking about who, to some extent, the writer himself becomes mad because of it. We don’t know which one the writer is. What I find very intriguing in using this is the method to try and create space between yourself and the character. But then the character almost becomes too much like you. You have to create another version. You are always the unreliable narrator. And that’s sort of what history can be. To a certain extent, history is the ultimate unreliable narrator. Even though there are certain things that definitely happened, the retelling has always got someone’s point of view. And what I wanted to explore is to make these different perspectives functioning all at once and critiquing them all at the same time. And to allow rooms for both dialogues to happen afterwards. You aren't completely shooting down the previous idea. People can interpret them and figure out themselves. Transcribed recording, edited for length and clarity.


ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION : abirdwhale | Kakinoki Masato

From London Bridge to Deptford, 2019.

I-Ying : We are on a river bus from London Bridge to Greenwich. Why do you take me here? How does this relate to your work? Masato : When I take a river bus from London Bridge, it gives me the feeling of longing, approaching and encountering. This was also a journey that appears several times in Samuel Pepys’ diary. He lived near Tower Hill and often worked at the (Deptford) dockyard, so he took this route a lot. IY: Who’s this person? M: He was an English diarist, whose works help people know about London in around the 17th century. I’m going to quote his book a bit in 16

my work. Also John Evelyn, another diarist, whose house and well-known garden used to be next to the dockyard, and the much smaller part of the garden still exists as a park (Sayes Court). When you walk around Deptford, you’ll see a lot of estates, streets and buildings named after them. Pepys Estate or Evelyn Street. IY: And how has the riverside informed your work about Deptford? M : When you look into the history of Deptford, you’d find that it was once the entrance or the departure point, from and to the UK. When I stand on the


London Bridge City Pier, I see the River Thames leading all the way to the ocean. That’s the entrance of the UK. We (/the river bus) are now going outward. I first visited The Dog & Bell in the early Summer or late Spring. It’s one of the iconic pubs for the locals. I explained my project and they said I

At that point, I hadn’t started reading anything about Deptford’s h i s t o r y. I a l w a y s t h o u g h t o f Deptford Market as where everything began. Later I found out, it was because of the dockyard that the market started to thrive. IY: That’s something I didn’t know as well. Coz at this point, Deptford Market seems a lot busier.

Deptford, the Remaining Ladder in the River Thames at High Tide, 2019.

should walk down to the dockyard, which I knew little about at that time. So I did, and when I saw the River Thames with remains from Deptford Pier (I might be wrong), I was emotionally captivated. I’ve been trying to avoid unnecessarily emotional elements in my work recently, but because I set the framework this project as attempts to build love relationships with Deptford, I can justify the use of passion or love for the place. I’m still looking for the precise translation of the term, but it’s 情 景 (jōkei) in Japanese, meaning scenery that touches your heart. My feelings towards these places later form an important part of my work.

M : Yeah, from what I read, there are two reasons that cause the decline of the dockyard. Natural factor-wise, the water was not deep enough, so they had to keep digging the mud out to accommodate ships which were getting larger and larger. They ended up closing and abandoning the dock. The wood industry also thrived for a period of time. There used to be lots of factories and workshops, which were then closed down because of the surge of the steel industry . IY: You’ve spent more than half a year doing fieldworks in the area of Deptford. How did you start?


Can you talk about your research process and share with us some of your findings? M : It’s actually you who started the whole thing. You asked if I was interested in doing something about the history of Deptford and the market. We visited there together in February. On that day, I didn’t do much but felt that the area was quite approachable. So I decided to start some random exploration later on. In the early phase, I was eating a lot around the market. It’s usually the easiest way to interact with the locals and start conversations. Other times, I just did my own stuff at the cafes in Deptford, including London Velo and The Greenhouse Deptford. I was not directly working on the project but thought it would still help if I spent more time there and immersed myself with the surrounding environment. It wasn’t until I started going to PLOT Coffee (a mobile coffee shop) that I began to really get to know the locals personally. It’s in the middle of the bric-a-brac and second-hand market; the energy is always high. Plus, there are only two tables, so you are somehow ‘forced to’ share the space and chat with people. Some of the people I met there gave me a lot of information about the local history. Others later became my interviewees. Lomond Coffee at Deptford Market 18

Yard is another place that helped me a lot in developing the project. The chef and barista, Jack, was very supportive; he told me about The Dog & Bell pub, which I

Deptford, the River Thames at High Tide, 2019.

mentioned earlier. An important source of my research, a book c a l l e d Tu r n i n g t h e T i d e : T h e History of Everyday Deptford was recommended by a temporary worker of the greengrocery at the market. After spending half a year in the area, I still don’t feel I’m knowledgeable enough to say anything solid or speak about it for the local people. So I stopped thinking that I wanted to ‘find’


something to present in the work. Instead, I decided to render my research process visible, using it as a medium to make the locals’ voices accessible and also bring in my thinking and experiences around it. That’s what I ended up doing. IY: History and non-normative/nonhuman love relationship are two aspects you pick up and dig into this time. I wonder how they intersect in the work. M : One day I was reading English researcher Meg-John Barker’s book on love, sex and relationship (titled Rewriting the Rules), in which she writes about the relationship one can have with the non-human, including places. I thought I could try experimenting this idea with Deptford, a place quite new to me, and consciously explore how it makes me feel. Aside from myself, I was also interested to know how the locals’ sense of belonging toward the area is formed (or not) and how they think about the interrelation between their personal history and different aspects of the changes Deptford has gone through. That’s why I decided to incorporate the element of interviews with the locals into the work. At first, I consciously avoided reading any books and relied mostly on my conversations with people to develop the project. But before I

started filming and designing the question list for my interviewees, I felt like I needed to know more. I think it’d somehow shape my view on the area and the way I make the work. That’s when I started reading relevant books and they really help me place what I experience and know within a bigger historical background. A local I had a conversation with said, ‘it’s a good eclectic mix of different people but the cultural history, it just comes out. If someone turns around and says, and your ears listen to it... And you got “Oh that’s quite interesting. I like that. I like that” So it gives another stand... [M: So you keep learning from everyday conversations.] Yeah yeah yeah, definitely. Definitely. And I personally think, if you want to belong to a community and understand it, you need to know about it, and know about cultural changes and how it’s changed from the beginning...’. I think that well resonates with what I’ve been trying to do in this project, which is to explore the development of my (or other human beings’) relationship with a place through conversations, reading and experiencing. IY: That somehow explains your choice on ‘essay film’, a genre that has been defined to retain a


self-reflexive and self-referential nature, as the project’s form of output. Can you expand on that? M : I attended the screenings of 'City, Essay, Film' organised by UCL Urban Laboratory. That was my first conscious encounter with essay film. I also read some related books by authors such as Laura Rascaroli. As this time is more about my personal journey, mixed with other people’s voices, the self-reflective nature of essay film does fit. As for the self-referential part, it’s fairly similar to a Japanese literary genre called I-Novel . That’s something I’ve been familiar with as a reader and something I’d love to start doing in the near future.

M: In Japanese, it’s called 私 小 説 (Shishōsetsu). It’s also self-reflective and selfreferential. People usually write about themselves or some aspects in their lives. It’s still categorised as fiction, but almost autobiographical in a way. I like the in-betweenness and ambiguity. IY: Let’s dive further into the m a k i n g o f t h i s f i l m . Yo u ’ v e shot footages of the dockyard, interviewed several residents about their attachment to the local area and written about your own response. Can you share with us the process of doing them and how you integrate these components into the work?

IY: Can you say a bit more about I-Novel?

From London Bridge to Deptford, in Front of Convoys Wharf, 2019. 20


M: There are four layers. Two of them reside in the film’s subtitles. One is about histories of the area. The other is about love, including some theories, histories and my thoughts and experiences. The third layer is the footages. This layer is like film music to me, as it is more about my emotion toward some remains of the dockyard area and less about logics or theories. The fourth layer is the audio interviews. I asked the same set of questions to different local people. Because there’s not enough space for me to put the full version of every interview into the film, I’ll instead make a web archive to make them accessible. The four layers are not related to each other directly, but because this is a fixed film, there is a loose correlation, obviously influenced by my subjectivity. I think my use of such balance between chaotic and excessive amount of information, and the linear structure of narrative, was partially influenced by Oriza Hirata’s theatre plays, several of which I have seen last summer in Tokyo. IY: I think what you do in this project offers the audience a rather affective entry into the history of Deptford. I’m curious as to how this project reflects your view on the notion of history and the potential of artistic practice to rethink what has

been written about the past. M: Every linear history is the result of stripping off endless varieties of a past event. It is okay as gathering every single voice and view on something is inevitably impossible. But I guess showing the histories of something as ‘histories’ in a meaningful way is one of the things artists can do and what I have been trying to do. Transcribed recording, edited for length and clarity.


PA R T I C I PA N T S ' BIOGRAPHIES Ting-Ting Cheng graduated from MA Photographic Studies at University o f We s t m i n s t e r a n d M FA F i n e A r t at Goldsmiths College. Cheng is interested in revisiting history through interpreting archival and found materials to explore the interplay of politics, race, and culture. She has held solo exhibitions at Taipei Fine Art Museum and galleries in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Spain and London. R e c e n t l y, s h e h a s b e e n a r t i s t - i n residence at the Stuart Hall Library of Iniva (UK), MMCA Korea and Taitung Art Museum (Taiwan) and is developing a new project at CheLA in Buenos Aires. www.chengtingting.com

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abirdwhale | Kakinoki Masato is a n a r t i s t , r e s e a r c h e r, m u s i c i a n , film music composer/producer and vocalist who conducts researchbased art practice. His interests span the present and future of love and sex, food culture, and their interplay with historical narratives. From 2018 to 2019, he was a visiting artist and postdoctoral researcher at CRiSAP, LCC, University of the Arts London. In 2017, he completed a PhD in Music with the project of audiovisual digital music performance at Canterbury Christ Church University, where he was granted a full-time scholarship. kakinokimasato.com

Ross Hammond works with performance, installations and moving image. With a biographical component that has been intensified, he looks into the ideas of spatial m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f m e m o r y, b l i n d spots of representation and the idea of place in connection to our own histories or cultural legacies. H a m m o n d g r a d u a t e d w i t h a n M FA from Goldsmiths University in 2019. Re c e n t l y h e r e c e i v e d t h e 2 0 1 8 / 1 9 Goldsmiths Wardens Prize and was shortlisted for the ACME Studio Prize 2018/19. He has exhibited and screened works at Seventeen Gallery, Deptford X, Room 9 Gallery and Wandsworth Arts Festival in London.

I-Ying Liu is a curator, writer and translator. She received her MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths in 2019. Her research interests span migration, the politics of identity, language, translation and the (re/ de)-construction of history. Recent projects include By the time we are gone at Safehouse (2019), Loud Bodies at CCA Goldsmiths (2018) and Home Away at Freud Museum London (2018). Her writings have been published on BIOS Monthly, The Reporter (Taiwan) and Cinezen (Hong Kong). Currently, she is the assistant curator of 2020 Taiwan Film Festival UK & Nordic Countries for its contemporary art strand.

rosshammond.net

iyingliu.wordpress.com


READING LIST Anim-Addo, Joan. (1995). Longest Journey : A History of Black Lewisham. Deptford Forum Publishing. Arns, Inke & Horn, Gabriele ed. (2007). History will repeat itself: strategies of re-enactment in contemporary (media) art and performance. Frankfurt am Main: Revolver. Barker, Meg-John. (2012). ‘Non-human relationships’, Rewriting the rules: An integrative guide to love, sex and relationships. Routledge, p.191-193. Delany, S. R. (1984). ‘A Dialogue: Samuel Delany and Joanna Russ on Science Fiction’, Callaloo, 22, pp.27-35. Fabiao, Eleonora. (2012). ‘History and Precariousness: In Search of a Performative Historiography’, Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History (Jones, A & Heathfield, A ed.). Bristol, UK and Chicago, USA: intellect, pp.121-136. Garcia, Dora. (2017). ‘To protect us from the truth’, Fiction as Method. Berlin: Sternberg Press, pp.171-192. Grant, Catherine. (2016). ‘A Time of One's Own’, Oxford Art Journal, 39(3), pp.357-376. Hatherley, Owen. (2016). The Ministry of Nostalgia: Consuming Austerity. Verso Books. Nora, Pierre. (1989). ‘Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire’, Representations 26, trans. Marc Roudebush, pp.7-24. Rascaroli, Laura. (2017). How the Essay Film Thinks. Oxford University Press. Schneider, Rebecca. (2011). ‘Foreword – By way of other directions’. Performing remains: Art and war in times of theatrical reenactment. London: Routledge, pp.1-31. Steedman, Carolyn. (2001). ‘The Space of Memory: in an archive’, Dust. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.66-88. Steele, Jess. (1993). Turning the Tide: The History of Everyday Deptford. Deptford Forum Publishing.


CREDI TS AN D ACK N OWLE DGE ME N TS By Way of Returns This is a publication that accompanies the exhibition of the same title at the Art Hub Studios in London, 4th-8th December, 2019. T i n g -T i n g C h e n g w o u l d l i ke to t h a n k Ro b Ke n y o n ,

Artists

Vron Ware, Homer Sykes, George Padmore Institute

Ting-Ting Cheng Ross Hammond abirdwhale | Kakinoki Masato

and everyone who participated in the march for their contribution to her work. Ross Hammond would like thank Avril Corroon and all those friends who have given feedback and help over the past year. a b i rd w h a l e | K a k i n o k i M a s a to wo u l d l i ke to t h a n k

Curated by I-Ying Liu Publication design by Wu Pei Chi

I-Ying Liu, Glenn Fitzy Fitzpatrick , John Hindmirsh, Peter Webb, Desrine Mcbride, Dwayne Bright , Sean Tye, Jack Gutter y, Paul Clayton, Ben Graville, Thuy Phillips and those who wish to remain anonymous for their participation in the inter views (name in order of inter view sequence), and Deptford Action Group for the Elderly (DAGE), the volunteers (Gill, Monika

Supported by Goldsmiths Exhibitions Hub MFA Curating, Goldsmiths

and Ashley) and members of Group Befriending, Voluntary Services Lewisham, the volunteers (Dominic a n d Va n e s s a ) a n d m e m b e r s o f Pe p y s C o m m u n i t y L i b ra r y a n d R e s o u r ce s C e n t r e , t h e s ta f f ( N a l d e r ) , volunteers (Gill and more) and members of Compass C e n t re M e n ta l H ea l t h D ro p - i n , Vo l u n ta r y S e r v i ce s Lewisham, Lomond Coffee, Lai Loi, Deli X, Voluntary Services Lewisham, and shops which wish to remain anonymous for their support.

Drinks sponsored by

BRICK BREWERY PECKHAM RYE - LONDON

I-Ying Liu would like to thank Luke from the Art Hub Studios, Tan Kian Ming, Wu Pei Chi and all the friends and tu tors of MFA Curat in g for t hier feedback an d support. 24



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