Archives for posts with tag: Street

Written by Sarah Spanton

Leo Burtin’s Homemade: le Bistroquet  briefly described in a previous post took the form of a market stall, yet was not about an exchange of cash for tasty bistro cooking, but an exchange of one of your recipes for this tasty bistro cooking.

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For me, this project was about setting up an alternative mode of economic exchange – that subverts the foregrounding of the cash exchange as the only valuable exchange between people.

This work acknowledges that there other things that are of worth in life, in this case your cooking knowledge, and your desire to share your favourite recipe with others. People actively engaged in writing their favourite recipes down on cards in exchange for the food on offer. The recipes are to be collated into a cookery book in the near future.

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However, I didn’t manage to successfully make an exchange on the day, and effectively owe Leo a recipe, as I did eat some very nice pizza. Once I realised I had to provide a recipe, I felt under pressure. I actually like cooking, but tend to make things up as a I go along a lot of the time, so writing a recipe down felt like a challenge. Yet, I’d partaken of the food offered, and felt guilty when I sloped off to take part in the rest of Hazard.

So to publicly make reparations for this, here’s my recipe for rhubarb and blackberry crumble.

150g Wholewheat flour

50g Oats

50g Margarine/butter

100g Sugar

400g Cooked rhubarb (sweat around 4 sticks, in a covered dish in the oven for 20 mins or so, with 25g of sugar)

250g Un-cooked blackberries (cooked on a low heat with a 50g sugar)

Heat the oven to 180c

Grease an oven proof dish (the one I use is 8cm tall, 18cm across)

Cook blackberries, rinse through and add 50g of the sugar, heat in a pan with a lid, for 5 mins.

Add cooked rhubarb and blackberries to greased dish, mix gently.

Rub the wholewheat flour together with the margarine in a bowl, until you have fine crumbs. Add in the oats, and 25g sugar and carefully pour over the fruit in the bowl.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, until the top is brown, and the fruit bubbling a little.

Image credits: 1 Hazard, 2, 3 Sarah Spanton

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Written by Sarah Spanton

I’ve experienced Institute for Crazy Dancing’s Lifeboat twice now, once in Cross Flatts Park, Beeston, Leeds in April this year, and the second time in St Ann’s Square, Manchester at Hazard in July.

The lifeboat itself is a carefully crafted wooden boat-like structure, with a blue canvas awning, from which hang 4 hammocks. One or two of the Lifeboat crew push the boat around for 5 minutes or so, whilst the hammocks gently swing from side to side. People queue up to take part all day long. They declare the experience to be relaxing and contemplative.

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One reason Lifeboat matters is that it allows people who dare to ride in it to experience the possibility of being in a world that is otherwise. It shows us that if we can make this little world inside, we probably are making the bigger world as well. It opens space for imagining that it can and should be different. It is possible to be kind and gentle and to take time to get your bearings, in the company of others who are doing the same, and thus feeling your position in the world from a continuously changing point of view.

From Sarah Amsler’s discussion paper on Lifeboat in Beeston

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Lifeboat seems to be about taking time out, not wasting time: allowing the course of the day to be interrupted by spending time reflecting differently. Here in St Ann’s Square the experience offered a new perspective on a crowded, busy shopping street. It disrupted the square as a commercial space – someone asked ‘Is it free?’ It also offers something highly unusual: a space to reflect individually yet communally in public.

Image credits: 1. Sarah Spanton / ICD, 2. Hazard / ICD

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Written By Gisele Bone

Top Joe set up his equipment in front of me, about a yard to 1.5m away, wearing his fluorescent yellow jacket.  When he was fiddling about with his tape player I had clocked the old-style camera was facing me rather than away.  He sat down to my left, looked and at me and said, ‘3-look-at-the-camera-2-1’, and I turned and gave a lips-together smile.  I wasn’t comfortable enough for a ‘I’m-happy-smiling’ smile.  He began by apologising for taking my photo and hoped that it hadn’t made me angry.  I wondered if an unhappy subject had punched him: Top Joe gave me the idea that I had a right to be angry.

As part of Documentation, Top Joe asked me where I was from and what I did.  Soon after, he explained that he wasn’t really called ‘Top Joe’ but he was being played by a man whose name was Chris and his practice was pretty new to him.  He didn’t want to deceive me and thought that he needed to let me know as he’d received a cooked chicken from a couple he’d photographed in Liverpool (where he’d been trialling this piece) and felt anguished because he was not being straight with them.  I thought about this.  I felt duped and confused, like I didn’t know who I was talking to.  I repeated what he’d just said (except the bit about the chicken) to try and clarify what he meant.  It became clear that this revelation was of no consequence but the fact that he’d thought it important enough to bring it to my attention made me feel he was tricking me.  We talked about putting on an act and how it’s normal to put on different faces for different situations.  He seemed appreciative of this meta-chat.  Then he described how Documentation was all about sharing a brief moment with a stranger.  The artist continued to ask me questions and I, bizarrely, gave him information about my life that I only speak about to close friends.  My guard had dropped: perhaps it was all part of one of our acts.

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Image credit: Hazard / Top Joe

Written by Sarah Spanton

My observations of watching Top Joe’s work are from another perspective. He undertook subtle, calm interactions with people: inviting them to have their photo taken with him, and quietly chatting to them. My reading of the work was that this was about a meeting of strangers, and at its core modelled how strangers might find ways to relate to each other. The camera, photography and tape-deck music were a vehicle to allow this to happen.

I enjoyed what I saw of the work, especially the contact I witnessed between Top Joe and another photographer, who just happened to be in Manchester to take photos on his own SLR camera (see Hazard Soundscape post, for an audio recording of some of this interaction). They chatted amiably about their cameras, sharing the camaraderie of analogue photography. And inverting the artwork, the man with the SLR camera asked if he could take Top Joe’s photo and then did so.

I’ve been interested in ideas around communication and how strangers relate to each other for some while, and have written blog posts on this elsewhere (#1 & #2).

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Image credits: Sarah Spanton / Top Joe

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Written by Dani Abulhawa

Continued from here…

The performance The Levellers developed from the establishment of Canavan’s individual symbolic action to the creation of a collective one. During the second half of the work, signaled by the tolling of the church bells at 4pm, Canavan removed the gas mask and rosemary and took a clamp out of his pocket, which he placed inside his mouth between his lips and teeth, which had the effect of exposing his gums and teeth; the artist ‘bearing his teeth’ in a symbol of anger or rage. He then proceeded to staple a sprig of the rosemary to his forehead, symbolising the Levellers’ cause, before offering people who were gathered to witness the action to take a piece of rosemary for themselves. We were being invited into the action. Canavan returned to his position in front of the church and raised his fist. Many of the audience followed, raising theirs, in solidarity.

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These symbols – what they meant to an individual or how they made people feel – are, ultimately, personal. A fleeting passer-by may take one snapshot of the performance, or choose to stand and observe, or perhaps to join in the collective action. The use of St. Ann’s Square for such a thoughtful action asserted the public urban square as a site of politics, not just shopping, which is another historical feature of public spaces we should not forget.

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Image credits: Hazard / Kris Canavan

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Written by Dani Abulhawa

Kris Canavan’s The Leveller operated through several layers of symbolism that could be accessed through different levels of engagement. His action was situated at the back of St. Ann’s Church, in the small area between the church and the passageway through to King Street. This area of St. Ann’s Square receives a steady stream of people passing through, but it also feels sequestered from the rest of the square. The piece began with Canavan stood squarely in front of the church wall, dressed in a suit. His face was obscured entirely by a gas mask stuffed with rosemary. At his feet were two books, bound together with twine: one, A History of Modern Israel by Colin Schindler (generally regarded as a balanced account of the Middle East conflict), and the other, To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.

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The reference to these two books, bound together as they were in this piece, made a connection between the European persecutions of Jewish people throughout the 20th Century, the current and ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the racial inequality and injustice presented in Lee’s novel. The precise political intention of the piece wasn’t explicit, which was an important aspect of the piece. This was not a shouting condemnation of one side over another, but a question mark or a site for contemplation of what bringing these things together means from a personal perspective.

The gas mask – an object designed to prevent the wearer from inhaling airborne toxins – worn in this context, suggested that the propaganda that fuels hatred towards different groups, and which infects culture, might also be understood as toxic and something that people are vulnerable to. The stuffing of the gas mask with rosemary – a herb that is known to symbolise remembrance – acts like a second filter inside the gas mask. Remembering past injustice allows us to see it more clearly when it arises again.

Rosemary is also strongly connected with the Levellers political movement, established during the English civil war. The Levellers’ manifesto, Agreement of the People, was firmly rooted in equality, rights and safety for all. They expounded the importance of the level playing field throughout society, and members identified each other by the sprig of rosemary worn in their hats.

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Image credits: Hazard / Kris Canavan

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Written by Gisele Bone

At Hazard, I approached Martin Hamblen’s work  ‘Level head’, from the side, shimmying up, not wanting to disturb this apparent performance of endurance.  I asked if it was alright to take a photo and enquired as to his well-being.  He said it wasn’t his neck that hurt so much as his knees.  As we carried on talking he removed the 6ft spirit level balancing on his head and rested on it, like a gardener with a hoe.  We hadn’t spoken previously but had seen each other at different events and as we talked I realised that this wasn’t so much a show of endurance, like Two Steps Forward, One Step Back had appeared.  Situated in front of St Ann’s Church, dressed in a suit but without a tie and wearing brown leather lace-up shoes, Hamblen must have been sweating like a pig.

Hamblen asked several questions, surprising me as this was the second time I had been the interviewed when I had expected it to be the other way round.  Watching passers by while we were talking, and observing the audience from a distance, I saw how, like with many of the works at Hazard, people looked on, rubber-necked, commented to those they were with and continued walking.  Some people did stop and interact with the pieces, but the majority look on with mild to severe confusion.

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Image credit: Gisele Bone / Martin Hamblen