Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Memo Mori, by Emily Richardson
Greetings. A whole load of stuff taking place at Arbeit Gallery in Hackney Wick this weekend as part of the grass-roots Lab Film Festival taking place in the surrounding area. On Saturday we’ll be hosting ‘One Pound Cinema’, in which we’ll showcase a selection of short films directed by emerging local and international film-makers from midday all the way to 9pm, all for the princely sum of, well, £1.
On Sunday, meanwhile, from 6-9pm we will be hosting for free a programme of artists’ moving image works entitled London Seizure Part 2: Extension of the Zone of Operation (the first part of this series was screened at Bermondsey Project in Southwark last month).

Arbeit is located at Unit 4, White Post Lane, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, London, E9 5EN (map).

Some info below on Sunday’s programme of screenings. There's also a lowdown on the individual entries here on Arbeit's website, with screen shots of each. The screening programme will be followed by a panel discussion with the participating artists.

We live in a world shaped by people. What some might call nature has been transformed by human beings, from the earliest communities clearing forests to the sudden acceleration of the process at the end of the eighteenth century with the beginning of the industrial revolution, through the origins of mass production, the large scale urban planning schemes of the modernist movement, the fragmented narratives of postmodernism, to the second decade of the twenty first century. As a process, this transformation continues, with more people than ever before now living in urban centres, mega-cities of steel and glass, engines of a global economy, fuelled by mass consumption.

In metropolitan areas such as London, changes of use and ownership of public and private space are often driven by economic imperatives and security concerns.  Urban developers and private investors make commitments to deliver an improved version of the city which is clean, secure and controlled, though, ultimately, what is created, as a result of this process, is a sterile and less democratic space for the public to use. In due course, these urban neighbourhoods become commodified and branded entities under the control of estate management boards and/ or local authorities, which make decisions on the current and future use of said neighbourhoods. 

A social pattern, well documented in recent decades, has seen creative practitioners, attracted by the easy availability of empty, disused or cheap spaces in former industrial areas, seize the initiative and become resident, temporarily, within the ascending spiral of regeneration processes.  The inevitable consequences are rising property prices, increased socio-cultural value and a highly contested space between various competing interest groups.

With regard to one specific former industrial area, Hackney Wick, it might be argued that no other part of London better evinces this perpetual re-negotiation and interpretation of space and resources.  With the arrival of the now familiar blue fencing, there was a clear signal that decisions about the use of urban space are not guided by the inhabitants of cities but by corporate interests. The blue fencing is symbolic of high security, control and exclusion, subverting even the ethos of events, which are supposed to epitomise inclusiveness, pluralism and democratic values.

The two part-film programme, London Seizure, represents a new contribution to the dialogue on the current social, economic and political climate in London. In order to contextualise the featured works, the screenings have been hosted by institutions in two separate areas of London significantly affected by regeneration processes, Bermondsey Project, Southwark and Arbeit, Hackney Wick.

The artists featured in Part 1: Urban DISease, shared the same motivation to record instances of disruption to the fabric of everyday urban life, with regard to both the quotidian and the wider socio-political agenda, giving voice to a general sense of unease.
The artists featured in this Part 2: Extension of the Zone of Operation, take a special interest in current practices governing urban land use and the hidden narratives behind market oriented housing policies. Oscillating between propaganda, political theatre and anthropological research, their works engage with the recent past, insecure present and uncertain future as a tool against disappearance and forgetting.

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