The most significant East End event in the last two years?November 24, 2011 About my museum job, Community, Learning
During this week’s Many East End session, we asked members of youth organisation Tolerance in Diversity what they thought was the most significant event in the East End in the last two years. I’ll reveal their answer in a bit, but first a little about the session. (As we were starting to examine, and create, art this week, you’ll see the photos have taken on a post-modern feel).
Artist Sarah Carne started off by asking everyone about the photos they had taken in the galleries last week to represent their favourite East End place, person, image and thing. Collectively, the group discussed each photo and sorted them into three categories: Definitely representative, Definitely not representative and Not sure. Strong strands started to emerge amongst the images, the strongest of which was family. Others included Canary Wharf, The Thames, water more generally and modern architecture. One participant had chosen ‘Turkoman’ to represent her favourite East End person, her brother. She said Turkoman reminded her of him when he was little dressing up in girls clothes and in her words, ‘being a girl’.
The ‘Definitely representative ‘ and ‘Not Sure’ photos were then gathered and saved, and participants will be adding them to their project portfolios.
Sarah then introduced us to her art.
Sarah explained that she does a lot of work in film and photography and that, in her words, ‘My art is all about me’. As well as showing us interesting commissions she has done on a variety of topics she also introduced us to what it would appear is the love of her life – her Yugo. The amazing Yugo has been photographed, written upon, Letrasetted (if that’s a word), converted into a cinema, use to ferry people between exhibitions, travelled ‘home’ to Yugoslavia, rotted, molded, broken down and vandalised. And now Sarah is writing a musical about it. The Yugo is Sarah’s. As art, it represents her and reflects her. The Yugo also provided the subject matter for a series of photos, which when shown in quick succession, convert into a mini film. The combination of self, and the creation of film, was our inspiration for our next task.
Sarah gave everyone a peg and asked them to customise it to represent them. One person simply added their name using Letraset, followed by a semi-colon to represent the fact that he does a lot of computer programming. (The semi-colon occurs alot in computer programming, we were told!) Other pegs were converted into a girl with little pigtails and a shark. Others were covered in letters and stickers and one was not touched in itself, but attached to a Bangladeshi flag, to represent nationality.
So, you may be wondering how all this relates to most significant event in the East End in the last two years. Well…
Sarah explained that the customised pegs, and other pegs if necessary were going to be ’brought to life’ in a quick film to represent that event, whatever the group thought it may be. So, a discussion began on possible contenders for this event. Suggestions included:
1. Construction of the Olympics site
2. Losing the bid to host the World Cup
3. English Defensive League march this summer
4. Construction of Westfield
5. Riots in Hackney
After some to-ing and fro-ing the group came to a consensus that, in their opinion, the most significant event in terms of impact on their East End was the English Defensive League march. Several of the group members had been there on the day, having joined lots of people in coming out against the march. In the midst of the tension, the EDL coach broke down, just outside the East London Mosque, and a previously unpredicted flash point erupted. You can read more about the event here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14779772
So, using pegs, and a healthy slug of creativity, the group created a short film of the events of the day. We do have the film footage but haven’t had a chance to do anything post production yet so a photo will have to do!
And that concluded last night’s session. I’m sure we will be going back to this topic, and looking in further depth at why the group felt that this is the most significant East End event in the last two years. Because of the public sector strike we are not meeting next week, so the group are meeting independently. Leading on from examining what their East End is, they are going to be considering how they would represent it artistically. Their ‘pitch’ is going to be presented to the curator of View Tube in Stratford on 7th December. Watch this space…