Monday, 18 August 2014

Hackney Wick/ Dalston/ Bethnal Green/ Wapping-----

---revenant houses facing canal. Yours once, given away a decade ago.

- – MDMA still in your system,.. sounds haunting you,,  Nguzunguzu,  Evian Christ,,
 —- on a concrete floor, lying next to a speaker cab, 
you feel the heat in your veins, the synthetic pulsing of chemicals,, something that had had erupted a week before 
acted out again.
You get flashes of people in and out the flat, doors opening, a warren of black chambers.. chopping up lines ,jagged drinking straws and smears on glass. You remember the shards of black coming in cascades,, then opalescent shivers of pleasure as the MDMA ebbed through you--

Your face is grazed. You look a bit thin and your body is covered in scratches.

Canary Wharf blinking –
- -paranoid vista.
And the traces still pulsing … sunlight bleaching a landscape of scars and cameras,, troops nested under railway bridges.

Along the Hertford Union , away from the Lea Valley, steps activating buried currents, .a series of encounters-- the marshes and brutalist estates of Stratford, Leyton and Hackney,, relics emerging in the Olympic zone-- 

Hackney Wick , that moment where the city comes apart,, gives way to a landscape of industrial ruins  -. You drift through spectral thickets of sloes and brambles, traveller sites, fridge mountains and scorched circles on the ground,; 

Parched stretches of the canal ,,. Music coming from industrial estate, melting armatures, scorched black circles. Try to keep it together but sounds are so affecting , 
shells of new cities emerging
from riots and abandoned construction sites.

The concrete floor, the speaker cab..
in that moment you are communing with the dead.

violets on towpath, honeysuckle tracing the walls of abandoned hospitals..
You drift through woodsmoke, bonfires in the forecourt,,
stadium collapsing under a bindweed canopy.


Canal vista opens, Lubetkins Cranbrook Estate- , into Bethnal Green,, that knot of bomb craters and yellow taverns. You drift through yards of bust up fruit machines, lock ups with nicked Dreams beds. Vallance road… stop by the arches where the kitchen appliances are,
a car slows down , windows open and that song
--not over yet.
You are transfixed . You gaze across at the new towers of the City… Heron Tower and Bishopsgate. You are momentarily alone and the song scuttles over you, little explosions of heat …and you know that, for all the diversions, the parties and the drink, you have no desire to forget.

You feel the heat rising, put your palm flat on the bricks and dream of those moments, the tender and the raw, when his face split, from the wanting and the anxiety ,, and you remember the shock of his brown eyes, glassy and young, and you’d remembered them older, and blue.

You pass Rinkoffs and that house you always wanted with the interlocking rooftops. You’re bored of being skint,,. you dream of money rolling in, you fantasise about houses, gardens ,, cocktails in highball glasses, sediments of peach and mandarin-- you channel the tension in these streets, the seething hatred and class anger as the spoils of international finance sprout in towering clusters round Aldgate.

…the heat is intensifying--  
Whitechapel High street ,,burning arms, burning faces..…that girl with the fucked up face,, you remember her from that night in January, the unravelling in some tourist dive in Brick Lane--
and now , passing Paddy Power and Bombay Plaza, two blokes, dogs, a four pack of Tubourg.--
Just a glancing moment, she looks at you.
humani nihil a me alienum puto", I consider nothing that is human alien to me."

You turn off the High street at the Hospital Tavern and enter a new labyrinth of PFi
corridors,; flourescent lights, swing doors, fields of magenta paint. 

Another full moon, the one you had hoped for.
An intense cascade of letters.
Bonding…indelibly marking…

- you return to red brick courtyards, crumbling structures of the old hospital, the ivy and tangled rose gardens,,,
pass through narrow streets,, heaps of rubbish stinking in the heat-

Commercial road, bleached like 1976,, melting off the map..
you can slide into the bricks here, city has become porous, a coral,, portals opening onto rooftops, alleyways,, you wish you could drift back to where you were a fortnight ago.. but that was another era, another lifetime… he was a chimera.., constructed by you.. iridescent threads woven together.
You think back, all that time ago, to the Clockwork Pharmacy on the Narrow Way, how you wanted to meet there because of the name, of what it signified to you,, , violence,, sensation pushed to the limit… of darkness channelled, choreographed into an intense life.. and the walk across the marshes to those damp hives where faces bruise in the rot. 
 Seems so far away now… he recedes then appears as a shock.. .. You remember the white paint thrown across the ground by the river,, how you dreamt it was black,,, saw the shores and steel structures coated in viscous pigment and felt in that moment the keening sense of separation/

Streets at the back, corrugated fences falling. That maze of estates. Darul Ummah Masjid.

Washing hanging over balconies…black sheets, red covers///
Prismatic glow in the stairwells..

You cut across Cable street onto the Highway at McDonalds.
The Old Rose, boarded up. Black paint and dusky pink flaking.. a flashback to 84, rum and cokes before bricks thrown at TNT lorries--
You walk through desolate acres of News International--
Waitrose,, Telfords Yard , Tobacco Dock.

You find that abandoned shopping mall, brick arches and postmodern atria.. a frozen relic of docklands development,, for years you could walk through maudlin music and empty shop units, a sprawling network of chambers, 1981/ 1989/ 1992,, traces of cinnamon and ginger seeping through the bricks.
you remember the heat--cigarette smoke, the European scents of coffee and dark chocolate-- tinned up now with sheets of black--
you think about breaking in,,
peer through slices of dusty light--
Spectral markers, future troops-- the city under siege, how this place becomes a dark reversal of your dreams , you eyed it up a decade ago-- conjured up a subversion of that space, a satellite occupation and now it becomes Aldershot, Catterick, Colchester— a garrison suddenly formed.

You return to the canal, property speculation and international finance,,
80s development channelling Amsterdam. ,.,.concrete steps suffused with heat.. You want hours of shimmering conversation, you want to sit and drink and let booze unwind you, let the panorama dissolve in a haze.
That courtyard, with the missing black cat and the violet light and the luminous yellow cross on the tree. He is always there.. haunting the paths of hawthorn and wild roses ,
 walls of derelict buildings erupting with fig trees, clematis and passion flower.

You pass little pubs,
that music,, you keep hearing it, your head in a speaker cab,, the dark hair, glassy eyes, concrete floor. And you dream of those idle afternoons, drinking, talking, hiding out in bed.
Hot bricks, your palm flat on them,  face pressed into them.
Round the sweep of Thames, the Island, the towers…

Shards of black coming in cascades,, then opalescent shivers of pleasure as the MDMA ebbs through you--
Canary Wharf blinking – - -paranoid vista.
And the traces still pulsing … sunlight bleaching a landscape of scars and cameras.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Thursday, 26 June 2014

England 2014

Western edges urban conurbation
dislocated drifts..//
250ml glasses of chardonnay
, tramadol, diazepam, fluoxetine--
monday club smirnoff and monster,
blue lagoon
construction sites/thc—
travelodge stinking of weed.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Zones of Sacrifice- 1990-2014

Brutalist architecture has haunted my life. It has always been there as an obsession, an enduring, compelling aesthetic, and a site of possibilty and emergence. When I was a child we moved house quite a lot, the cast always reshuffled alongside a changing landscape.
I remember journeys along the A64 to visit my Dad. I must have been six or seven. We would drive through Leeds past the tower blocks of Seacroft, through the tunnels with their mosaics and orange lights, the International pool , Merrion Centre and Quarry Hill flats. The brutalist architecture of Leeds indelibly marked me; these journeys were emotionally heightened, suffused with a kind of sublime anxiety.

My early memories of family life are embedded in the black stone terraces , 70s new builds and post war council estates of West Yorkshire. Later we moved to a street of 1930s red bricks houses in Scarborough. Brutalist architecture seemed transcendent , totally beyond the microworlds I inhabited in my Grandma's semi detached house.
As I got older my relationship with brutalism intensified , the almost detached feeling of  theatricality gave way to an experience of immersion and involvement. It was the beginning of the 90s and a roving crew of itinerants had started occupying the many abandoned housing estates around the UK.
I was squatting in Leeds at the time, in dilapidated red brick back to backs in the Woodhouse and Hyde Park areas. Some weekends we would go across to Hulme in Manchester for big gatherings of punks and travellers in the massive and horrifying Crescents. There would be soundsystems in abandoned pubs and the entire estate would be reconfigured as decomissioned ambulances and lorries parked up in the communal grounds. We went across to Wakefield sometimes and Bradford where we knew people living on big estates, in high towers where whole corridors had been occupied by various subcultural tribes. It was a kind of Mad Max scenario , people had customised flats using steel that had boarded up windows and furniture made from palettes and planks. There was almost a siege aesthetic , a kind of defensive architecture constructed to guard against bailiffs and territorial narco-gangs .

When I came to live in London in the early 90s there were huge estates that had been squatted by anarchists. These were militant sites where the potential for resistance and conflict went far beyond lifestyle politics. The past decade had been marked by the Battle of the Beanfield, Broadwater Farm, Poll Tax riots, Claremont Road and a second wave of pit closures. In Dalston, Hackney and Stamford Hill areas were demarcated by black flags, rusting military vehicles and Class War graffiti. I remember communal dining rooms and cafes, meetings and benefit gigs, and parties where speaker cabs formed pyramids of window rattling bass. Those estates were like honeycombs, you could drift in and out of endless rooms and corridors.
In these politically charged spaces people were taking the problem of housing and homelessness into their own hands en masse. Hackney council were badly managing estates in the borough, leaving them standing empty. Many of us decided to take possession of ruined buildings where we could burrow in and create zones that defied and rejected the heavy handed imposition of a neoliberal system of values.
I remember most vividly the tranquil dream moments before an intense sequence of events like the Criminal Justice bill protests, or the Reclaim the streets actions and big anti capitalist demonstrations like J18 .These moments, where normal flows of commerce and exchange are disrupted, where everything seems fierce and interconnected are always preceded by a dreaming lull and it is those days of plotting and yearning that have stayed with me. I love those times when the fabric of the architecture suddenly feels charged with desire,, when whole blocks of flats become prismatic, municipal landings and desolate courtyards become steeped in those emotional states, momentarily vivid with eruptions of fluorescent pink and acid yellows.

Rave, the free party scene, had recodified whole swathes of the UK. Abandoned factories and warehouses, squatted estates and crumbling rows of Victorian housing became sites of rupture, euphoria and anxiety. Our lives, as itinerants were played out in the limimal zones, places that don't really belong to anyone, the kind of threshold places that sit between abandonment and speculation, no longer stridently urban but never fiiting in with ideas of bucolic prettiness. We would travel in convoy to parties on the edges of towns and cities. Places that, in their crepuscular state of ebbing away had become punctured with possibility. I always liked how the pioneer species, the tenacious brambles, sycamore and bindweed formed a complex labyrinthine landscape beneath the elevated stretches of the motorway . I liked the covert spaces under the map; how when you looked at the A-Z you saw the thick blue line of the motorway but it was only by being present in that place that you could describe the territories beneath. I remember sound systems setting up and motorway stanchions suddenly illluminated with an intense, almost flourescent glow .

These peripheral lands offered a certain refuge from the increasinging homogenisation and 'Americanisation' of the British landscape. Here you could avoid the snares of consumerism and advertisitng unless you were peering up at something designed to be seen from the motorway. These were largely unsurveilled places, ignored by ramblers and heritage obsessives. They were inhabited by a different kind of character, those who moved along the edges of society, the transient populations , the modern ragpickers.
Sometimes adhoc mosques might appear in portakabins or African churches in some industrial estate alongside traveller sites and illegal parties and gatherings. Scratches and markings ermerged as communuqués. Graffiti found here operated as a series of fluctuating currents, residing beyond the bland acceptibility of 'street art'' and official historical text. These glyphs and sigils were the markers of territory, the expression of brash desires and militant demands.

In 2001/2002 I lived on the Aylesbury estate in the Elephant and Castle. Generally acknowleged as the largest council estate in Europe alongside the adjoining Heygate Estate it was built in the early 1970s as a solution to slum clearances and the devastation of the Blitz. The two estates were a vast interlocking web of 'plattenbau' blocks interconnected by aerial walkways and concrete yards. It was a place that seemed to repress and contain its energies. The blocks were a seething maze , cliff faces pocked with satellite dishes. The windows opened at angles, reflecting the sun in blinding oblongs of gold.
I remember hating having no balcony, feeling trapped in my 12th floor flat which was very different to the estates I had known before. There were elevated walkways and strange sunken gardens with ornamental trees and neoclassical statues but they were almost always deserted even when the estate was fully populated. The moment of cataclysm didn't come for these estates, they didn't erupt like Broadwater Farm, and were never squatted en masse like the North Peckham or Stamford Hill. It always felt to me that the emotional life of the 11,000 tenants was fated to crackle and sizzle in confinement, energies always caught in the corridors and flats inside, only seeping out in summer when walls echoed and resounded with the sounds of kwaito, r and b and gime.

After the Blitz there was a chance to carve a new idealised vision from the ruins. It's easy to cite the narrative that these huge social housing projects failed because there was something intrinsically wrong with the architecture but it seems more likely that they didn't work because they were starved of investment. The Heygate and Aylesbury never felt like good places to me, they were a cheap, diluted version of the brilliant complexes by the likes of Goldfinger, Lubetkin, Luder or the Smithsons. But the disappearance of so much social housing is surely cause for lament.

The current demolition of the Heygate estate marks the end of an era . The estate was completed in 1974, the dying days of the post war consensus and the moment when neoliberalism began. The Heygate emerged in the embers of a time when the idea of collectivity was valued but was doomed to live out its life in the rapacious individualism of the Thatcher years. Now , in 2014 it lies in ruins, a network of desolate chambers, eerie tinned up rooms reverberating with the spectral sounds of a lost era.
These forlorn landscapes appear to me now as reliquarys, place where voices can chanelled and in some way transmitted. They have become eligiac sites where walls are imbued with memories, touch and experience. Walkways, courtyards and stairwells have become the crystallised emblems of another time.

My psychogeographic drifts through different areas of London have become a melancholy project documenting the loss of certain aspects of the city . I return to places that have been important , sites of collective memory and desire that are being demolished. During the Blair years walking through the redeveloped and regenerated London streets was to experience alienation and familiarity simultaneously, fragments of memory would emerge as splinters in the smooth space of developers plans. Places that had been in the commons were being gated off, the consequence of a decade of corporate land grabs and sustained social cleansing. London was becoming an enclave for the wealthy, and the rest of us were being pushed out, scrubbed off the map and out of history.
My work is a conflation of my own memories, fragments of journals and half remembered episodes. I revisit convoy culture, rave scenes and 80s political movements as way of channeling those lost voices, attitiudes and scenes . I feel that there is a substrata of anger and resistance in England, that there is always a buried current of class anger and resentment just below the surface. For me,walking around the gentirifed sectors of the city today is about tuning into that, predicting those cataclysmic moments , listening for a haunting of the new shopping centres and corporate landscapes. .

Many of the ruins we see emerging at an accelerated rate around London and the South east are the ruins of the future, the new build luxury highrises and inevitable victims of the next collapse in the property market. There are ranks of empty blocks, like Capital Towers in Stratford, bought off plan in auctions in Hong Kong and Malaysia and left as menacing totems of a speculative free for all. What will become of these places? Maybe they will end up as negative equity ghettos like the Pinnacles in Woolwich, sublet to recent arrivals from the former colonies and left in a state of chronic disrepair , or perhaps they will be seized and occupied by bands of rent defaulters, young people unable to afford anywhere to live in the South East whose desperation has led them to take militant direct action.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sunday, 9 March 2014


Sudden explosion of warmth,, shimmering first days of spring.
leave the estate with a load of crew about midday,,
.. walk along the motorway, collection of corrugated hutches, Bow tube,,
loads of people I know hanging about, atmosphere kind of euphoric.. I was in black dress, silver bomber jacket , hair up in a bun..everyone looking hyped like we were going to a party.
Leaving in groups on tube to Kennington.. .the heat intense, a magical feeling. Kept picking people up on the way, every stop , more getting on, Whitechapel, Liverpool street, changing at Moorgate....on the platforms.., Spiral Tribe,, skinheads, lads in overalls and fractal t shirts, that lot from Brixton, punks with mohicans and studded jackets, some of the Italians and French lot from the Pepys.
a massive crew already on the tube and I loved that.

Arrive at Kennington,  balmy spring sunshine and  a kind of carnival atmosphere. Shimmering gold sky, the air is scented pink.. blossom already coming.. Soundsystem from one of the LCC blocks, Snap! I've got the Power and Dub be good to me, Beats international. Sounded so good, loud like that.
Magical and warm.. Rastas from St Agnes, loads of people , kids, old people everyone, accents coming from everywhere..the excitement is palapable.. could tell something much bigger about to happen, we all knew it,  there's been talk for weeks, and there's been a glimpses as well, one in Brixton, one in Hackney, one in Islington, leading up to the big one...
Everyone knew it was going to kick off today...loads of mates from Yorkshire, Scotland, all over turning up with kitbags, laundry bags, stuff scattered all over.
Went to bed night before knowing it would go up. Writing everything down.. the feeling of it, knowing something massive was about to happen.. The kick off in Brixton and the one in Hackney, when they were setting the rate, they were just prequels. The thrill of violence , loved that more than anything.
That scene in Hackney had been fucking brilliant, when Radio rentals got looted and we helped an old lady hoist a tv into a tesco shopping trolley so she could wheel it back to the Pembury estate.
There had been nothing but talk of this for weeks,, but now, well you wouldn't know the darkness was brooding, not with the sunshine and the families and the coachloads coming in from all over the country enjoying a day out.
Kennington Park,... felt a ruffle of anxiety, had can of beer and a dab of speed...
 saw more crew from Teviot, more people coming up off the tube,, 
 loads of people we knew straight away, including known trouble makers.. (ha ha ) there has been loads in papers about this, and that is what we are getting called. Saw loads of people we'd seen at Class War meetings in Stoke Newington, older , hard looking blokes. Everyone was in good mood.

March set off , it was big but a lot of us didn't bother joining it. On the march there was no indication of trouble.. no particular grouping could be called hardcore, black flags but not solid black.. anarchists were there, for the chance of a kick off,, the main thing...but circling, not in main march.
Everyone knew it was going to erupt.. everyone knew before the day..talking about it for days on end. Weeks on end. People I knew, hardcore trouble makers.. couple of thousand together, no plan, just circling, finding each other..
March got to Downing street.. to Whitehall... saw no indication of trouble.. we positioned ourselves,, people from our estate, people we met on way,,, and that bloke with the speed. Loads of boozing, cans passed round.
Steps of St Martins,, in distance Downing street, top of Whitehall, sticks and placards being thrown, didn't see mounted police.. lot of people there,
met someone on steps said most of our lot in Strand,, more sticks coming from there..
about 2.30-3pm.. didn't hear any speeches from podium, minds focused elsewhere,,
whole of square full ,tense and angry crowd.
Managed to get down side of St Martins.. got to the confluence of Whitehall and Strand,, could still see placards thrown but didn't look serious, not worth checking out, then police vans with armour, grilles down, advancing towards us.. nearly got to Whitehall, when suddenly realised surrounded by several thousand people. Somebody I was with tried to prise grille off van, then vans tried to back away,, trapped, kicked and booted, bricks were fired at them, it was as if someone had lit the fuse went bang, then riot just went up.
Made way back to Traflagar square, tried to get to St Martins, couldn't, truncheons, barriers thrown, quickly, police unprepared,, severely undermanned...barriers being thrown, bricks, bottles, put in, shops looted, police withdrawn,,
corner Whitehall and Strand..
crowd sounds, thousands, cacophany.. people closely packed together, police had been dispersed, smashing windows looting shops..
people on scaffolding, throwing at police..them taking casualites..
suddenly S amidst all that, the chaos and the smoke and the fire, running into a line of police, a crew of them.. throwing sticks and cans...
he is so sexy, couldn't stop thinking about other night.
Then they got cavalry in.. elsewhere.. detached from main group.. loads of people fighting police in the square.. police sending in the horses.. to what avail don't know, crowd just parted, didn't know what they were doing... momentum.. just spread crowds out further, suddenly lost S,, in that moment... just that instant...
found myself top of St Martins... one of our lot carrying round police riot shield, a lot of people doing that because police backed out, nutters coalsesed,, crowd absolutely hostile..
poll tax demonstrators, families and disabled applauded
top of St Martins lane outside National Gallery, Chandos with riot shield,, loads of people I knew.. no cops anywhere.. so we just advanced up Charing Cross road, putting through windows, bins in streets, Leicester Square station, said let's put barricade up, cars across road. In distance see smoke rising,, could see it was a massive building alight, and all stuff around it, portakabins above ground level on fire..
now any poice vehicles we saw got attacked immediately, police running for lives.. put up barricade, Leicester square, police didn't respond, driven out of area, needed to conslidate and get reinforcements, by this time we had taken control. Hippodrome attacked, once inside , said what are we going to do, so much happening...woman in hysterics screaming you're ruining our cause,, but she got completly ignored...
Charing Cross road, Covent Garden , shops looted , books, stamps, postcards littering ground,,
cars on fire, car showroom, smashed up.. group that I was with... talking hundreds..,several groups of hundreds doing what we were doing
Covent Garden, Royal Opera House attacked people coming out, scaffolding poles, putting through windows,, looting bottles of whisky, high on adrenaline, inflamed with booze...
got to a shop on corner of Endell street.. put windows through , deciding what do next, lets go and fight police, found one, special constabulary, looked like Benny Hill, with glasses,, chubby, got a couple of slaps,, could have been killed, we had him as a prisoner, didn't know what to do with him, made him run off, threw bottles at him, bottles smashing.. booze spraying up...
we swerved into Covent Garden piazza.. this crew was more than 400 people, .. plenty of them knew before,, just came together, experienced rioters turning up together at same place, chemistry. Got to piazza, putting windows through, didn't care, see faces of assitants, frozen no one tried to stop us, no police.. in piazza saw six coppers, two lads on ground, trying to arrest them, 
we attacked the coppers, they ran away, lads dearrested,, been nicking stuff out of windows..
people come up from Strand..
S just reappeared,grabbed me, wrote address on my hand with marker pen...
nobody spoke to anyone, just shouting, 
 most round here not looters, wanted to burn cars and fight.
Near Traflagar square, cars in showroom on fire,,, police in sight,, we threw more bottles and bricks at them, munitions lying around, bins going through windows, Stringfellows smashed, kept on move... we dispersed into crowds and remerged, maybe about 40 mins later, old bill had more on ground, facing hopeless task, loads of people pouring out of stations, Leciester square, football hooligans, stations still open, people coming out of tube getting straight into it, knew why they were there..
up to Charing cross road.. it was just looters then, Denmark Street, people running away with amps and guitars,, Tottenham Court Road, electrical shops, cameras, video cameras..
kind of wandered around in a daze,, 5 o clock, boiling hot all day...
rioters down to shirt sleeves..

Oxford street, Soho Square skip on fire ,
Shops looted, dummies taken out of windows just standing on the street.
In Lyall street China town, group of dossers had been looting ,completley drunk making their own dosser barricade plastic bags and bins in road, nothing going on there but making barricade anyway..
tourists bewildered
Charing Cross looted shops, hand to hand fighting by now, chaos.
On own, impossible fleeting glance , someone you know, catch glimpse and then disappear again..
Could see police vans in distance people not attacking police just looting now, things thown in street, clothes, chairs, amazing.
Hung around for a while, lost everyone now,, then saw one of the blokes from the CW lot in Stoke Newington,
wasn't in the mood to leave, wanted to walk around until saw S again but thought chances of that were unlikely now.. thought about what he said, the few gasps I could remember...
there were plumes of smoke rising.. the bloke wasn't in mood for going home either, was buzzing as much as I was, up for more walking around.