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SSE S P A C E

in collaboration with

Yorgos Loizos UCLU Young Writers Society


10 SECONDS AROUND A MANNEQUIN Harry Burke untitled18 this poem has to be about television roy liechtenstein told me that before i’d even defined my ‘high school days’ with the arthritis we call 1950s america if you were to ask me about the subject today though i’d quote shows such as twin peaks dexter and black books and perhaps imagine watching them with a girlfriend and bottle of red wine let me take you upstairs and show you some thing you’ll never have seen before (basic information: gender = male) i’ll tell you what i’ve always been much more into films though more specifically american films that feed off of french new waves films that feed off of american films with a little bit of the abject though just to show you i sympathise let me take you upstairs and show you some thing you’ll never have seen before (add as friend? lives in london, uk) it’s hard to say what kind of girls i like but i guarantee that they’ll like to snuggle up after and read all the books that pete doherty likes and if this poem seems to be regressing into some 90s brit pop hit i can assure you it’s not it was always going to be some sort of sonic youth drawl couldn’t you tell from the first line imagine listening to pearl jam during oh i oh i’m still alive let me take you upstairs and show you some thing you’ll never have seen before (add as friend? from seattle, washington) thinking about it some more i’ve realised

this poem is actually all about materiality that explains all the desperate marrying of fin-de-siecle and the red scare who’d have thought i’d be sitting here in 2011 talking about the listlessness of modernism like the way gingerbread is just fantastic but goes a bit soggy and rotten when old like that stuff you always see sellotaped up in supermarkets anyway girl let me just take you upstairs and show you something you’ll never have seen before i’ve almost told you everything about myself and what are your views on the legacy of henry ford (information withheld)


DOMESTIC AUTOMATA 1 Ned Carter Miles When, in our Brutalest moments, We built these towers In the wake, and polyglot Dispatch of empire So proud We never once thought That in their sepulchral bodies, Alive by dint of in-livers, We’d trade life for shiny, votive offerings Flooding the market of the beyond And remain. Us and our appliances, These lonely, bird-like machines, Carved and not built, That left no sign or cicatrix, No sigh nor parting kiss On the mother ore that bore them. We and They are a euphony In the vacuum of escaping days.


DOMESTIC AUTOMATA 3 Freya Field-Donovan Surface is too easily accepted as the limit – as the whole. A finished product, habitually projected onto the moving substance of the past, the present, the future. The ruptured surface, the impossible space, are shoots in the forest of signs. Human/Automata/Memory/Photograph An unidentifiable blemish in the shifting network of signs.


DOMESTIC AUTOMATA 4 Kirsty Irving The skull is back, meshed inside your seven skirts, reminding you that a hundred skirts will not swaddle you from death. Not even you, King Annelise, first breasted king, who fidgets at the muslin, at this, your own coronation, stands during sitting time, roars like an ape as the skull, its sockets gauzed, knocks against your knee, looks emptily up, up, up to the flag being winched on a dumbwaiter of admiration, the fluted A and R hugging across an apple or a pregnant belly; what could be a shadow could easily be a bulbous navel. King Annelise, my liege, run for the woods in hessian, itching as your castle turns tramp to the rag of state tonguing from the turrets. Oh Lise Rex, your doom outdoes you. The walls mutate into branches, the cobbles to dung and creepers and your own hands to claws, your damned skirts to patchy fur, your spine lurching like a clock hand from midnight to quarter past nine. Somewhere the trumpets are calling dinner so you dip what is left of your head, and, wetly, between your teeth, you end your first life.


DOMESTIC AUTOMATA 5 Harry Stopes This street is rain Full recycling boxes 5 doorbells on each house Where paving stones don’t sit They float On mud that squelches up Each time a stone see saws To soak another shoe. Over the city the rain Under the pavement the mud. Oh I’ve lost my halo I have I have lost it indeed. I clasp my leg under me And watch the sky. My heart ticks.


EARLY STUDIES OF LIGHT SHADOW OBJECT 1 Kate Ross Fear of Light The syndrome had spread like wildfire. Its effects were much the same, and soon enough, all sunlight had fallen victim to the infection. Scientists speaking about the condition on the radio had called it a ‘malignant deformation of light particles’ where the structure of light and its quantative measurement in units of illuminance, or lux, had been corrupted and made highly volatile. Sunlight had, in essence, become a form of channelled fire capable of tearing holes in absolutely everything with which it made contact. It could burn a man’s flesh from his bones and then make short work of the latter too. Light could turn matter into ash as easily as a campfire could quickly devour a stack of kindling. People said it was like napalm, only sent from an angry and vengeful nature rather than being a product man-made for the purposes of warfare. Subsequently, man has learnt to live in isolation from others, alone in self-contained bedsits wherein window-less walls are strengthened with specially-manufactured, reinforced concrete. He exists trapped behind steel-plated doors secured and bolted by twelve different locks and held in place by cumbersome and heavy sliding bars. Such is the necessity for these precautions that it is now the locksmiths of the world that are amongst the most powerful citizens. They guard their trade scrupulously and live secretive lives, appearing only when called upon and when the promised price is to their liking. You can always tell a locksmith’s house from the outside since every wall had been plated in custom-built metallic sheets designed to reflect harmful rays of light. These impenetrable, glittering asphalt fortresses are the safest possible domicile one could ever aspire to inhabit, but normal people must content themselves with something comparatively more humble. Inside the average bedsit, the atmosphere is one of perpetual twilight. Rooms are artificially lit by bulbs omitting only a dull, throbbing glow, the cost of which is phenomenal, the number of which are gradually running out. Impossible to reproduce, these bulbs are relics of a bygone era. Scientists speaking about the light bulbs on the radio have said recently that experiments being carried out in order to find a means of making more are producing encouraging results. They say that it is only a matter of time before the compatible materials can be sourced and then brought together in order to correctly assemble the bulbs. Such statements however, have been made for a number of years now only people fail to realise this, since all sense of time has been lost with the abdication of the daytime for the withdrawal into shadow and darkness that everyone


has had to undertake. Man is naturally incapable of going outside in the daytime hours, and has thus been forced to lead a nocturnal existence, rising with the sunset and arriving back home before its re-emergence. The nature of occupations too has had to adapt to the conditions imposed by the malignant light deformity. Written material, and its production with it, has become largely obsolete. Artists and anyone engaged with visual media have been forced to pursue alternative career-paths and with the redundancy of the television, the radio has witnessed an astonishing comeback. Through fear of light, man seeks solace in sound. Music is cheaply available and extremely popular with those who live alone, which is the majority of the human population. It fills the empty chasm incurred by the prevailing darkness and occupies space as though another friendly voice in the room. People are greedy for sound, in love with an abstract voice, so much so that scientists speaking about the nature of sound on the radio state that it is arguably more addictive than nicotine. What previous generations have referred to as ‘cabin fever’ is rife, and it is not unusual for people to form strange attachments to sonic frequencies, cooped up in their bedsits for days at a time with only a distantly detached voice for company. The world is thus one of uninterrupted sounds, of industrial, mechanical machinery, of disco beats and electronic rhythms, of spoken word and classical concerto. Noise is everywhere and silence is inconceivable. The shadow man lives in has made it blind and the noise used to fill the void will soon render him deaf. The senses will slowly decay, and in the midst of the worldly shadows in which he lives, man cannot even watch it happening. The image that accompanies this report is an extremely rare photograph taken at the moment when unimaginable human carelessness left a front door ajar and the deadly light into the interior of a room. It is miraculous that such an image should survive this occurrence, and even more unlikely that a camera should be capable of recording it without breaking. Observe how the blistering solar veins splinter the shag-pile and shred the curtains, ripping holes in the Acanthus-leaf patterned walls and tearing briskly through wooden furniture as though it were tissue paper. The girl who took the photo was soon trapped in the corner of her room, unable to escape as the diseased light trickled ever closer, burning her possessions and cracking the urn of her mother’s ashes that sat next to a gilded lamp on the coffee table, scattering them into the room to mingle with the ash produced by the napalm-light. The girl did not survive this catastrophe. Her photograph however, did.

Scientists speaking on the radio have speculated that this may be due to an innate characteristic of the camera and its ability to capture and harness areas of negative and positive space in the form of shadow and light. They have posited the notion that this may render the camera a viable tool in the analysis of the burning light syndrome, so that it might be better understood and, eventually, combated. In sacrificing her life in order to capture her own immanent demise, the girl may have provided the means to save the human race. The fear of light of which no one has been spared may soon be a thing of the past.


EARLY STUDIES LIGHT SHADOW OBJECT 2 Aga Reza Ali Khan Chosen Embers The scene is old, Flame and timber dancing for our comfort, The aesthetic innate and immutable, Light and shade and grey, The scene around is perfect dark, The flaming logs, A sentient glow among the fauna of ubiquity, Shifting and contorting, Re-teaching us our heathen pre-knowledge. The light, intense at source, Erupts into the void, Knowing the futility of resistance, The void edges closer to the logs’ camp, The incendiary begins to wither, The dimming seems to last beyond the infinity, And the dark weeps for its lost totality.


LIGHT PROJECTIONS 2 Tobias Chapple At this time of day, I consider smoking. When bright turns soft, and déjà-vu could etch An image of the evening on the tiles, A calm takes over the inner lights. Nostalgia drips down, moulds to wet cement, And I consider adding my own swirls. I draw a bath and ignore the rain. I paint ink, quiet rows, curved steel And half a pause by the ronde, With water that fills acrylic pores. I will trouble the surface of Speckled moments turned crumpled monotone, Of the blocked out capitals of a name - Ajay, aJay, AJ And of skin, a whisper, Commonly misheard; I disturb this thought. Startle the water that dreams of waves, These rounded frontiers of the day; The voice in my head saying that it doesn’t believe in twisting ‘All indifference is a different rage’ The hand plunges in. “I refuse to feel your lips in its granulated curves I have no sense of your shape in its words” Your letter turns Leaf Dissolves peacefully I put my hand out for the bloom. It sucked on my thumb towards the end.


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MANNEQUIN BODY 1 Stef Newton Starts are dictated by endings. When it’s expected of us to only stare absent-mindedly, I looked at you and saw. And that changed everything. She pulls at her hair when she’s anxious. She likes highlighters. She drinks too much coffee. I think of the times our paths almost crossed, all the hellos we’ve missed. Years, separated by minutes. A stranger I never looked in the eye, did you watch me go by? She only eats the yellow M&Ms. She doesn’t believe in love. She listens to 70s music. ‘Is she?’ The one and only. The magician. ‘Yes’, they told me, sounding unimpressed. As you pull yet another rabbit out of your hat, I wonder whether it’s tiresome to always please, and whether you think you’ve paid too high a price for the attention. The white monster struggles, its red eyes gleaming. Applause, the tragedy of your trick lost to the hunger for entertainment. She loves seals. She’s afraid of escalators. She wants to change the world. You smile at me, a true artist. I feel lifted in the air, and I hear their laughter. What I am to you has no name, as things devoid of meaning often don’t. I am oblivion. I am freedom. I am escape. I am red-eyed proof that everything comes at a price. She only lets the phone ring twice. She knows all the lyrics to ‘Hey Jude’. She doesn’t like rain. You are powerful in that moment of stunned silence. In the standing ovation. But when the lights go out, the reality of what you have done is overwhelming. You have conjured something into this world that can only survive caged, stripped of magic. She doesn’t eat breakfast. She’s lost fifteen Oyster cards. She forgets to water the plants. I feel your pulse getting weaker. You look surprised. The creator never thinks about the object. You assumed I would spend my days in the front row, cheering for your pretense. She told me I was the one. She wanted to quit smoking. We fell asleep holding hands. You close your eyes. The curtain opens and I walk into the light. Applause, because the name and the face don’t matter. Starts are dictated by endings.


MANNEQUIN BODY 4 Harry Burke untitled14 looking up saints who share your name only to find bernini has already given them so much horror and so much ecstasy really emphasises the stone in which i set you last thursday night the faint stickiness of the pear cider on your venetian blinds and the gothic resolution of your face. no wonder we british never excelled at sculpture until henry moore came along yet even after seeing his tate retrospective last summer all i wanted to do was go get a sandwich.


MANNEQUIN SMEARED Elizabeth Kaplunov I twisted your head. Northbound. You smiled a torn grimace, turned round I pushed your hands backwards, turned over your world You lost balance, fell, choked back swearwords I clicked, fingers near the lighter’s flame. You fought back but fell down all the same.


OLYMPIA DOLL 1 Aga Reza Ali Khan Patience My face is adorned with the weather of age, My body seems broken, And my thoughts rarely align, Confused, Memory fades and bleaches, their records slowly erased But my heart, My still beating heart, It still feels the thrill of the new, The child, The wonder, It never leaves, The hurt and love for my mother, My father, I miss their embrace, A world of people, Of obfuscated importance, Just me, Watching a cloud, Still smiling, waiting for my mother’s voice to call me home again.


OLYMPIA DOLL 4 Anna Kirk As a child she slept in shampoo damp French plaits. Come morning when she let out waves her father said she looked Pre-Raphaelite. Her mother drowned, a ghost blue mermaid in her head. She drew sunsets with her dead mother’s lipsticks. Ends of day in Bella Donna Mauve.


THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S GAZE - CASTIGLIONE LEGS Eley Williams The bottom line is, it’s not your fault: no-one expects a Gorgon to wear an off-the-shoulder gown. On the leaflet her footnotes seemed innocuous enough (although the details were phrased in a tone of gentle titillation that you really ought to know better than to trust on first glance). She was, you read, born into a ticker-tape parade of diacritic marks: Virginie

Élisabeth

Louise Antoinette Thérèse Oldoïn.

Charlotte

Marie

- a mouthful before she became an eyeful. Elsewhere it mentions that she was renowned for her risqué poses, often with the head cropped out. She enjoyed the eccentricity of sitting still. Before you stand fully before the picture, a fable that might have been helpful in explaining your upcoming relationship with her: ‘There is a surprising suppleness to light,’ remarked the ant, full of awe, to the lowered magnifying glass on that sunny afternoon. It’s difficult to spell daguerreotype without it’s sharper, shorter cousin word. You see? The threat was there all along but, blithely, you insisted on looking closer. And so she loomed into sight, sitting patiently and waiting for your two types of grazing. 1) grazing: the nibbling attention of onlookers, browsing like cud-hungry cows. 2) grazing: something bloody and rubbed too raw a pity to ruin such pretty knees.

You stepped closer because there was a pleasing theatricality to the picture’s set-up that let you overlook the potential indelicacy of naked ankles and the gummy pressure of paint upon nails. And what happened next is a bit like love in that one look was all it took to be trapped in something spangled, churning, weir-like. For her part, she was well aware that she could floor you if she used both eyes so it was just the one this time; still, at this distance a single wink would prove a swift left-hook to your solar plexus, that fleshy flash-bulb beneath your ribs. A ‘go-thither’ stare, a punch through any attempts at grey smirching and cloudiness. Available, unveilable, you looked directly at her & [A gong hit] [a bomb banged] [a world born] sfumato vs. bravado this prettiest Cyclops pitted her eyeline against yours. As sad and bold as a moth finally in flames, In the time it took for you to work out whether she was wearing a ring on her wedding finger You caught her eye and found that it spat hot stars.


OLYMPIA DOLL 5 Chris Couch I looked to my mirror as an impartial friend who was not afraid of a withering or a put-down to my pout. In need of a name, I searched up ‘beauty in Greek’ and so it was; my mirror Kalos (a she) and I, styled ‘Alexinous’, having endless dialogues in my bedroom. Eventually they became none too pleasant. ‘O! Take me back to those days gone yonder when I believed that tarnish to be merely a crack in you!’. ‘O dear Alexinous!’ she would reply, ‘Now you know that it spreads across us both like a spider’s web’ I once cleaned her with Windolene and left a smear, it lasted for days. The stuff ’s gone to shit from the advertised ideal I thought, when a broad feller muscled purely by rustic means would take a cloth to a barn door and hew it clear glass. I soon realised that the entire relationship was a failure, as I was no Alexinous and she... well she was still Kallos, but we were very different. She of course gets a set of new faces with the tenancies, lest I smash her to bits (but no, the damage deposit), whereas all I can do, which is all I could ever do, is spectate myself going off. That came to me as I sat sipping skinny latte across from the back-end of a Tesco where they were turfing out unsold vegetables. I thought ‘those peppers look great to me’. Red and juicy but with a few dimples of mush (I’d call it charm or character) yet they were on their way due to decay. So I think here’s my cells, no chloroplasts, here’s the ribosome turning me outwards to leering eyes then inwards, onwards, to the grave, and oh wouldn’t it be better if I had the chloroplast so that I might be going outwards then inwards then outwards again, my appendages curling up crispy like bacon and dropping to the earth, feeding the soil, only to come back in the spring? But seeing yourself becoming dented and soft... there’d be no pleasure in that, no joy in the fall from grace, only the prospect of return to former glories back on the shelf; what a living! Hardly in a position to judge though, I thought, life spent talking to a pretentious mirror.


OLYMPIA DOLL 3 Ed Sibley I intend for this document to represent a complete summary of the events of March 3rd 2009. It will proceed in two parts. In the first I will provide a brief summary of the various odds and ends of information available relating to the disappearance of Yorgos Loizos. In the second, I will offer my own personal account of the event, and then to conclude I will offer some thoughts and views that I have developed in the time that has elapsed since then. Slightly over two years have passed. I had at one time intended to complete this account to mark the second anniversary of the date, but ordinary human events interceded and so I was sadly unable. I’m not unduly upset by this. I normally place little stock by anniversaries. I will start by making a point about my use of the word ‘disappearance’. This was not the word generally used by the press at the time. Most publications used the word ‘explosion’, presumably for its dramatic impact. Others opted for ‘evaporation’. As an eyewitness, I believe neither is really accurate. ‘Explosion’ is wholly misleading in its suggestion of violence and disorder. However, ‘evaporation’ is scarcely better, as it implies a sort of prolongedness or process to the event. When one pictures evaporation one imagines a process of melting into the air. Both words imply a vivid picture, one way or another, and in both cases the image is not true either to the event as I experienced it, or to the one photographic image that exists of the pivotal moment. I will offer my eyewitness account later on in this document, and I hope that when I do the reader will understand why I have been cautious in my choice of language. I have used the word ‘disappearance’ throughout my account, and I have not done this without careful deliberation. Little is know of Yorgos Loizos other than the unique circumstances of her disappearance. What little biographical information is available to the public only serves to suggest an additional mystery to that which already surrounds her. This mystery is that what we know about Loizos is nothing out of the ordinary. In the few accounts we have of her character and behaviour, there is nothing to suggest that she was in any way unusual.


The only curious thing about this information is how little there is of it. However, whether this lack of information is specifically related to her disappearance or not is debatable. The information we have available is mostly anecdotal. It is possible, or indeed probable, that the powers that be have uncovered more about her than has been released into the public sphere. However, I would wager that anything they have unearthed is probably as unremarkable as the information that already exists. At the time of the disappearance, Loizos was staying in a youth hostel in South Kensington. These were the facts, as they emerged: She had been in residence for around a fortnight, and the staff at the Hostel remember little of her from around this time, save that she rose early and left early, and would return in the early evening and confine herself to her room. She didn’t disclose to the hostel staff where it was she had come from. When her room was searched by the London Metropolitan Police Force following the event, they reported that her luggage consisted of a small canvas bag containing nothing but several changes of unremarkable clothes, around £30 in notes and coins, and a selection of toiletries which were found on the shelf above the sink. There was one book, which was an English-language translation of a collection of Borges stories. There was no wallet, purse, or means of identification. Presumably these were on her person when she disappeared, if she had any at all. The staff remarked to the press that she was polite. They said little else, at the time. None of the other guests at the hostel had anything to add to these accounts. Loizos had kept to herself.

political dissidence. Quite why God had chosen dissidence as the sin to warn against, or why a disappearing girl was the medium for this warning, was a mystery that Smith did not elaborate upon. As is the story wasn’t fanciful enough, she later reported (to considerably less media attention) that she had found a reproduction of the now-famous disappearance image on a slice of toast, and was the subject of several caricatures. Adams’s secondary testimony is more succinct - she merely asserts that other guests reported hearing her ‘laughing loudly’ at different hours of the night from inside her room. However, it should be remembered that the setting was a youth hostel. Drunkenness and late-night shenanigans are commonplace, and there seems no reason to believe that the other guests had any awareness of Loizos, let alone would have known which room of the 200 in the hostel was hers. As I say, I choose to discount these stories, for two reasons. Firstly, they did not emerge until some weeks after the event had all but passed out of the public consciousness. At the time of the event, they had no such far-fetched stories, only nonplussed accounts of Loizos’ unremarkable habits and unremarkable demeanour. Secondly, the two stories offer entirely separate and non-overlapping portraits of the girl, suggesting that they were fabricated independently of one another and share no common germ of truth.

Of course, as you will know, since then, two of the hostel staff have come forward and given strange and outlandish stories about her character to the press. One was a maid responsible for cleaning rooms, and the other was the woman who worked on the reception in the evening. The maid’s name is Yvonne Smith and the receptionist is Juliet Adams. I give these stories no credit at all. I believe them to be fabrications, for reasons that I will detail shortly.

These stories appeared in the press in the months following the event. I was at the time in a period of personal depression, partly due to the death of a close friend and partly due to the stress of the disappearance and subsequent invasion of my personal life by inquisitive folk. The appearance of these accounts in the papers did nothing to ease my melancholia. They inflamed my sense of cynicism and I publicly accused both persons of being liars. Predictably, my arguments gained only a little attention, and what little attention they received was more because I was an eyewitness of the event, and less because I had made cogent arguments. I was quoted as a figure of novelty rather than as a voice of reason.

Smith’s story claims that Loizos had spoken to her in secret, one morning in the hostel (this seems to conflict with the earlier testimony that Loizos left early each morning). Smith asserts that Loizos had prophesied her imminent disappearance, with, predictably, a clause swearing the maid to secrecy for a period of time. Smith claimed that Loizos had been sent by God, and her ‘explosion’ (Smith’s word as well as the media’s) was intended as a warning to the people of the world against the sinful dangers of

It is worth pointing out that the entire maid-and-receptionist debacle was conducted on the pages of the tabloid press. ‘Supernatural’ events are more commonly the province of those sorts papers, I suppose. It is only because the event happened in such a public space, and there were so many eyewitness accounts (as well as the image itself) that it garnered its initial traction in the broadsheet newspapers. In December it appeared in several end-of-year news rundowns but other than this it passed out of public discussion more


quickly than I would have expected. However, perhaps my perspective is a distorted one. #NHMexplosion was a trending topic on Twitter for some weeks but dropped off after a while and that was more or less the tail-end of the matter.

disappearance image. I include a reproduction of it alongside this account only for the sake of easy reference. It was ubiquitously printed on newspaper covers and inside pages over the days that followed, and is well-known.

The disappearance took place in the Natural History Museum, which is situated not far from Loizos’ hostel. Some staff recall seeing her around in the week leading up to the incident, but again, these accounts are unremarkable and sporadic. They may well be fanciful in origin, although there seems less reason to suspect this. On the day of her disappearance, Loizos attended a pre-booked tour of the Museum’s collection of pickled biological specimens. These tours, called Spirit Level tours, are available to the public by appointment. The individual wishing to take the tour must either telephone the Museum’s reception in the morning, or present themselves in person. Only a few places are available, and so the call or visit must be made early to ensure a place. The tours are free of charge, and popular.

Now, I will give my account of what I saw that day. I was on the tour with Loizos. I had booked my place in the hope of seeing the famous giant squid, which the Museum keeps pickled in its entirety in a glass tank in the collection. To this day I still haven’t seen it like I wanted to that day, because after the disappearance it was taken off to be restored and I understand it has yet to go back on public display. We were at that part of the collection where the squid is displayed at the moment of the disappearance. It is a shame that I was unable to get a really good look at it. The giant squid species remains a preoccupation of mine, and I would dearly love to see this specemin one day.

Loizos booked her tour that morning by presenting herself in person. She appeared at the desk at 10:34 in the morning, and met a reception-worker named Jeremy. It was Jeremy’s first day at the desk. These details are clearly trivial, but I include them in order to give some illustration of the depth and detail of the investigation carried out by members of the public after the event. I should stress: To this day, the results of the official investigation have not been released, and nearly all of what is ‘known’ about the disappearance has come to the light of the #NHMexplosion investigation. An incredibly quantity of facts like this were collected and circulated at the time, both in the press and in social media. What is most noteworthy about these investigations is that in spite of them, a consistent picture of Loizos herself, or of the events of the day, has failed to emerge. Nothing much of any depth was discovered about her or about her background, save an address in a village in Hertfordshire. No living family members were discovered. Et cetera et cetera. I have yet to mention the photographic image that remains the only image that exists of the moment of her disappearance. I say this - there is some debate as to what the image really represents, and how it was made. A great amount time and column-space has been given over to analysis of this

We were a group of 17. It is again testament to the scrutiny that we were all of us under for a while afterwards that I know exactly what this figure was. In terms of personal invasion I came off more lightly than some of the others, due to the fact that I was looking in the wrong direction when the disappearance happened. I saw the flash, but when I looked around Yorgos was gone. Various possible explanations for were proffered at the time. Some claimed it was an instance of the phenomenon of spontaneous combustion. Some related the event to higgs-boson research at CERN, and others, tastelessly enough, suggested that it was the emergence of some new form of individual-targeted terrorist attack. However, when the world braced itself for further disappearances, none came. The event was an isolated one. Some blamed aliens. To be honest, I credit even that suggestion as much as I credit any of the other ones, which is very little at all. The exact moments surrounding the event itself are well documented but I will here add my own visual account of those moments to the record. We were in the room in the Darwin Centre of the museum where the giant squid is kept in its tank. I was looking at the squid, bending down to look at it through the glass. It is a bizarre sight. Its flesh is bleached white by the formaldehyde and it has giant eyes. At the moment of the flash it appeared to convulse in its tank. This I assume was the effect of the sudden flash of


light changing the positions of the shadows on its surface. The flash itself seemed like the sort that a camera makes. One of the girls cried out, and I turned around to see what was going on. As I turned, a crack appeared in the glass of the squid tank, and a quantity of the preserving fluid began to spill out. Because I hadn’t been looking in the right direction at the moment that the disappearance occurred, I didn’t immediately realise that anything had happened. What struck me first was that the now famous image had appeared on the glass wall of a display case. It took me a moment to realise that someone was missing from the group. It was 6 or 7 feet wide and 4 or 5 high. The silhouette of the female figure was more-or-less life sized. The glass seemed to have been singed as though by great heat, although I felt none myself. In the papers, the image appears like a black and white photograph. In reality, the image was somehow affected onto the glass wall. I can’t account for it. I saw it up close for a while but as I say that room is no longer open to the public and the pane of glass itself has been removed, for tests I imagine. As it appeared to me, the areas that are black on the image were blackened with a sort of soot, and on the area that is white the surface of the glass appeared to have melted. It was as though the silhouette on the left of the image was caused because the area in Loizos’ shadow had been protected from the heat. I use the word ‘heat’; as I have already mentioned, at the time I felt none. Various conjectures have been made about the photograph - that the white shape seems to look like a person hanging upside-down, or that if you look at Loizos’ face, the way the white shape fits into it seems to reveal another face looking upwards. In these suggestions I again find zero value. The appearance of this white face looking upwards in the negative space of the picture is purely coincidence. I still don’t know how to emotionally process the disappearance. Of course, I had no personal connection to Loizos, and in the half-hour that our lives crossed paths we never actively acknowledged one another. It is possible that perhaps I bumped into her, or perhaps I asked her ‘excuse me’ in order to get a closer look at some pickled creature. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I don’t feel as if I was witness to a death, or the end of a person, because none of the ordinary correlatives of those things were present in the gallery. There was no body, no grieving family. No individuals or friends in

shock. No loud noise, even. No funeral. No hospital. Even in the event of the death of a stranger, there is a communality to those images that I think permits a certain pathos. There was a strangeness and a uniqueness to the disappearance of Yorgos Loizos that puts her final moments outside of the sphere of ordinary emotions. That is, assuming her disappearance was her death. I suppose it is entirely possible that she is still alive, perhaps somewhere else, although I don’t know why this would be the case any more or less than if she were dead. However, my emotional alienation is complicated by the presence of this image. Looking at it today, I do not feel a distinct emotional reaction. Not grief or fear, or even something more mundane. However, I do feel as though there is something, like the proverbial gap where a tooth has been, a lack of a feeling where there ought to be one. What exactly this feeling ought to be I do not know. I lack the emotional apparatus to process an event so alien. My best guess about this sensation is that it is because something that was personal to me and the others there, that happened quietly, is being pulled into the limelight. The incongruity of the privacy of the event and its public representation has fixed a sort of sanctity around the events, by now. I suppose the past is always closed and unreachable but never does this seem more the case than when one scene lasting no more than an instant has played out over and over in your head and in reports every day for two years, and when this mystery is as unattainable to me, who was there at the time, as it is to all the people reading their newspapers, I find I start to wonder if I fact that I was there matters at all, and my attempts to find some appropriate reaction to that day are perhaps invasive and inappropriate. But this is besides the point. I think on the whole the most interesting thing about the disappearance and its subsequent digestion by the world outside is that it offers a rare study of the way the amorphous mass of the public digest an event that is inexplicable, unprecedented and alien. As we have learnt, the way that the public digest an event of this sort is this: They fixate on it for a short while and then move on. I suppose this is because when no explanation or further detail emerges for public discussion to fixate on, the public discussion moves on to other topics. Perhaps the issue will be reignited when the conclusions of the official investigation are released. I will be interested to see what they conclude, although I doubt very much it will be anything particularly substantial.


I think this illustrates something important about the way that popular attention relates to the importance of an event. Sometimes the volume of an issue in the public domain is in proportion to the ‘importance’ of an event, and at other times the ‘importance’ of an event is generated by its place in public discourse. Often, the two are the same thing. However, I believe that the disappearance of Yorgos Loizos is one of the most important things that has happened, not only in recent history, but in the entire history of human understanding. The disappearance is an event that cannot be correlated with anything else that has happened in the recorded history of the world. It is a thing that happened, over two years ago, in circumstances that cannot be replicated. Although it is the stuff of tales of the supernatural, the evidence of its reality is unquestionable, and the implications of this reality have been entirely absent from public discussion. This is a failure of our media. Some comments on the image itself: Of course, the famous photograph that is in the papers is not the image itself. It is merely a representation of various beams light playing off the real image, which was burned into the glass. Yorgos herself is to the left of the frame. The composition seems deliberate, but this can hardly be the case. The strange white polypous shapes to the right of the image recall, to my eye, the backs of the tentacles of the dead giant squid. It is unclear what caused them to appear in the photograph. Really, all we can learn for sure from the image is a little about what Yorgos looked like. In the image we see clearly a little texture of her hair, and some outline of her face, her nose and lips.

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SALT WATERS 4 Tom Woodruff In The Ruins Riddle with bullets and all cut to ribbons Layed out in the corner, all sixes and sevens Down on my back from this sad-blood losing Too long living strange, too long sucking lemons And though these frayed edges are bent out of shape The heart of the night isn’t too far from Heaven Wrapped in the ruins, in feather boas and gin We move West for that time zone we’re craving Two more silhouettes on the scent of frontiers You said, “Look for the whites of my eyes when we’re leaving, When we bury this ship at the bottom of the ocean!” Til then let’s drink so hard that we drown too And when that time comes, it will come too soon.


SALT WATERS 5 Aga Reza Ali Khan Weep Weep, That depth, May teach your incongruous, Fetid, Fettered, Self, Some humility, Let the water purge, Until all that’s left, Is teardrops, Ready to vaporize, Leaving beads of salt on the dry floor, Forever.


SHOP BACK DOOR Ruth Mair When business slows at the end of the day what are the mannequins supposed to do? It’s not like there’s a radio left on for them, or a T.V. We do that much for our pets, but the mannequins are left in silence without any movements to watch. Because they always watch. What else do they have to do? They are helpless. Some claim that they move when we’re not looking, but that’s an urban legend, something made up. Its only statues that do that. Mannequins are plastic; they have no souls and probably no feelings but there’s no way for us to know that for certain. It has been proved that animals have feelings (despite any philosophical debates about their having emotions) because they will actively avoid things that hurt them, but hasn’t it been suggested that boredom is a kind of torture too? So, at the shop back door at the end of the day, leaving the mannequins alone with no company, no entertainment, not even a buzzing light to attract moths, isn’t that a little heartless? I’m sure they envy our movements, in and out like that. We take movement for granted so much I’m sure, and what they would give for arms to lift heavy boxes, legs to carry them, feet to ache.


SHOP WINDOW POLAROID TRANSFER 2 Ruth Mair Green is the colour of the depths. Of weeds and mossy rocks and the bottom of lakes and rivers. The colour of drowning. As the air escapes slowly and the light of the sky moves further away, the colour that would be the last to be seen would be green. The indistinct shapes of a land that can never really be known, gradually blurring as the oxygen molecules abandon us. Beyond green there’s really no more than darkness, no matter how hard you look. Anything else is only imagined, and in that oxygen starved moment its best not to look further at all. Who knows what you’ll see.


POLAROID SHOP WINDOW Andrew Cheah We Would Like To Invite You For A Gathering As you may well know, the family Muros has of recent times inherited a vast depository of Ancient Scrolls. The Scrolls written by The Late Great St Thrombone of Pisa, of his expeditions to the hitherto unknown lands of the Far East and the North Pole. bringing back with him many, many, toys, and several lifetimes worth of experiences, that, until now, have been unseen by all within the Family Muros. We have as yet only opened one of the Sacred Scrolls, titled The Shoe. In the scroll, we have been educated on the art of the ritualistic carving of Panda organs, in the fashion of Italo-Oriental quality footwear, suitable for the long treks across the Gobi Desert in the search for skeletons. And are suitably excited for the unveiling of the remaining 799 Scrolls and its myriad of untold secrets. For the opening of the remaining scrolls, we are hereby inviting yourself and your spouse, to join us as we embark on this momentous journey to the Land of Nod. The tents are now being erected, the ovens are pre-heating, the spears are being sharpened, and the forest is being cleared. The dawn of a new era awaits us on the grassy banks of the Loch, where there will be much food, laughter and merriment. Come, come, join us as the Loch, as we celebrate under the shadow of our forefathers.


SPINNING DOLL Marta Owczarek Wake up not knowing where the waves left you As they bent crashing into the concrete shore, Did the current spill me out here, Or did my own loss of control? The solar-panelled landscape is still ringing, Flashback particles Not converging into a surface whole But bending even more. You set sail on a straight track but never avoided straying, Delving head first into the swirl. Thought you’d left those tricky islands far beyond, But as the earth is round The horizon always brings them back, Or maybe you are the crook that gathers them up, Recreating erratic loops that don’t ever flatten. Stumble on reefed obstacles Because you still can’t walk in a straight line, Just hover over the same holes, Forget why you were set To circle the blank spots. You’re left navigating the double-bent question marks, They coil and swim; and every track Is a flash of golden fire, Colliding in spectacular lines over your head, As everything seems to be spiralling and missing (Your watch, rings, conviction, dignity), Repeating the sequence of movements Trying to get out of the whirpool but still There isn’t a drop to drink, Or never enough.


Wake up in a puddle, Throat parched, eyes glazed, The Nightmare Life-in-Death waves, And a thousand thousand slimy things Live on; and so do I. Meanwhile the city outside is still sleepy and muted, Like it was right after dawn, Just like you entirely unaware of what’s been going on, Of the sea movements undertaken Already during the hot and copper bloody sky And gradually as you try to stumble your way Back to the steering wheel The panic steadies and you find you can operate this course, The devil knows how to row! You take a big gulp and become so full of it It seems there was never anything before, And your destination has always been Bent and out of line. Delusions of grandeur overcome the guilt, But the jittering continues, And your fingers can’t hold the ropes still. You forget the plain lands before the concrete shore, Before the solar panels and the albatross, Like they are white crows, Rare as hen’s teeth, Their white flags filling the blank spots announcing defeat. You greet your evil self warmly and fall into step, It mingles strangely with your fears, Yet it feels like a welcoming. Its reappearance an exciting secret You can smile to yourself about while walking the streets. And, having once turned round, you walk on and turn no more your head, The bond and bend only continues; You turn so many corners you don’t know where the wave ends.

Eyes parched, throat glazed, In a slimy puddle still alive, You can’t look yourself straight in the eye, Even in a reflection on the heavily-mirrored sunglasses It’s narrowed and rippled, Clipped by the squint of a crossbow’s eye. But you cover yours instead and just wail YES, Yes to everything that will get you away From the wrenched frame of mind, Mumbling to itself at uncertain hours About the heart burning despite the tale, About nature rebelling with the same Processes that should concern everything but I, Bent waves washing up interferingly high. Will you please still idolise me, after seeing me bend and spin?


Yorgos Loizos – Olympia an essay by Hollie Kearns Naked mannequin torsos, an entanglement of artificial body parts, a slipper shaped shadow, a delicate branch of thorns, shadows and ledges, the body parts of decapitated dolls are all to be found in this exhibition of work by Yorgos Loizos. An architecture graduate, Loizos uses black and white photography to re-articulate the space of the built environment, in particular the urban shop front, capturing within it the eerie traces of artificial life. He creates spectral traces of inhumanity on built spaces, some of them constructed specifically as photographic sets. The spectral trace is reanimated through photographic reproduction and made increasingly insecure by the visceral traces of the alchemical change through the photographic process. Loizos develops and explores the constructed reality of the staged photograph and the unknowing fictional space we create with dolls and mannequins, who are themselves mere copies of human life. Many artists have explored the traces of human life and histories left on the physical environment but Loizos has chosen to explore not just human life but our often fantastical relationship with the potentiality of life within inanimate objects. Mannequins are here seen as the location of desire, not as the paraders of shop wears but as the objects of desire themselves. Loizos had many artistic and literary references as the background to this exhibition. Literary works and novels in which the protagonist unwittingly falls in love with an inanimate cyborg, or automat such as Der Sandmann by E.T.A. Hofmann and ‘L’Eve Future’ by Comte Villiers de l’Isle-Adam1 particularly highlight a history of tension between humans and the objects we create in our own likeness and for the fulfilment of our own desires; be they romantic, sexual, or consumer desires.

Paying attention to the way in which the built environment has broadened the spectacle of the mannequin, or the artificial and industrial icon, Loizos’s photographs draw us into the particular and to the murky details of overlooked but very public spaces. Alluding, quite specifically to this American vaudeville, ‘freak show’ tradition, Loizos’s photographs carry a certain discomfort about the continued nature of our relationship with the shop front, echoing Benjamin’s infamous Arcades Project. In his Arcades Project Benjamin sites the architecture of the passages, Hausmann’s Parisian shopping streets, as the site for exploring society’s tempering of the modes of human perception1. Through the projects which produced the series of photographs in this exhibition Loizos elevates the ordinary, the overlooked, the uncomfortably unmentioned nudity displayed in shop fronts, the exhibition spaces of the urban landscape. Individual images are often laid over each other in these photographs, overlapping the lonely images of isolated scenarios to change their context. New images arise from the overlaying but yet capacities for interpretation, definition or even legibility are obscured and made difficult by this layering. An internal frame defines the shape of the image and highlights the trace of the alchemical photographic process, now visible on the surface of the images. The deliberate use of black and white photography is due to the particularities of the development process which provides a greater capacity for the artist to create and refine the finished photograph. Each photograph then becomes an individually rendered artwork, subject to the hand of the artist, through art’s most basic definitions each work now becomes a painting, an unrepeatable event, further throwing our definitions of human perception and the way we create our visual environments into disarray.

With the mannequin or doll, we have created a perfect/imperfect replica, and we view them within the same macabre spectacle as the ‘freak shows’ of New York’s Coney Island, once they are isolated from their designated context. The mannequin, the dolls, the artificial flowers, and so on, in Loizos’s works become then, indexical materials to the unreality of the storefront life and by extension to the relationship we have to the inanimate surrounds which serve us.

The attractive and nostalgic, doubly exposed, black and white photography with it’s romantic play of light and shadow, belies the complexity of the subject matter and visual thesis of this exhibition. These photographs have the potential to bring awareness to the urban environment we inhabit and to the way we negotiate this environment. Loizos’s work furthers the dialogue between architecture and photography and the capacity either, or both, media have to affect changes and draw out the nuances of the other.

1

1

Specifically referenced during conversation with the artist and the author.

Benjamin, Walter, The Arcades Project, Harvard University Press, 2002


SSE S P A C E

Curated by Freddy Tuppen and Kevin Green Many thanks to all those who have made this exhibition possible: Jack Hesketh Roger Hart Aoife Leach Marta Owczarek Hollie Kearns Stuart Munro Augustus Veinoglou Eve Smith Yiannis Andreadakis The Bartlett School of Architecture The Slade School of Art Metro Imaging Peroni Italy

Yorgos Loizos | Olympia 20th June - 17th September, 2011 40 Store Street, London WC1E 7DB www.ssespace.co.uk For more information contact info@ssespace.co.uk

Profile for Marta Owczarek

Yorgos Loizos exhibition at SSE Space collab  

Some of the wonderful writers from UCLU Young Writers Society have written texts to accompany the exhibition of Yorgos Loizos' photography t...

Yorgos Loizos exhibition at SSE Space collab  

Some of the wonderful writers from UCLU Young Writers Society have written texts to accompany the exhibition of Yorgos Loizos' photography t...

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