Currently IUD is exhibiting in The Fire and the Rose curated by Tongyu Zhou as part of the Asia Triennial 14. The work is located in the Vertical Gallery, 3rd Floor, Benzie Building , Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. We have created a Temporary Research Space, an invitation to spend time exploring selected materials from our archive, derived from fieldwork and other research in Salford, UK and Guangzhou, China. Also included are a small sample of related critical and fieldwork texts. The show is on until November 28th.
“Just as none of us are beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” Edward Said, Culture & Imperialism
A Walk Around the Demolition Site of Peach Tree Court, Saturday 27th September 2014.
We cross the main road and enter the waste ground through the old school gates, the ones parents used to visit the head teacher in the 1990’s before the school was demolished. We had already smelled smoke from the other side of the road, before we saw the treacly patches of branded earth, some of them still leaking a pencil line of smoke. The blond grass of the waste ground is too damp to burn for long and the young arsonists (we caught sight of them briefly) have failed in their attempts to make the fires take hold.
When I was in my twenties two of my great loves were documentary photography and experimental film. Seeing Jem Cohen’s work Lost Book Found (1996) made me realise how the two could come together in a heady mix. Cohen wanders like a street photographer gathering Super-8 and 16mm film material through his direct observation of the urban world around him. Lost Book Found is his modern day homage to Benjamin’s Arcades Project relocated to New York. It attempts to find another layer of meaning to the city through its traces, fragments and neglected spaces. The narrative alternates between the city’s hard streets and a hidden reality beneath the kaleidoscopic distractions and phantasmagoria of its capitalist space.
Latour & Hermant’s on-line book Paris: Invisible City (1998) presents a challenge to all urban photographers and the observational methods central to their work. The project questions how much we really can understand about the modern city by simply looking. Starting off on the rooftop of the famous La Samaritaine department store it begins by examining the panorama of Paris.
The book explores the labyrinth of overlapping networks that underpin the functioning of the city. Using Latour’s Actor-Network-Theory as a methodology, it highlights the ‘invisible’ and unnoticed connectivities that compose the city. It presents us with a layered portrait of place “bypassed by the normative representational mode” (Networks of Design). Latour uses the term ‘oligopticon’ to define these hidden networks that ultimately serve to make Paris the functioning city that it is. As a social researcher he believes that they are a means to appreciate the intertwined totality of municipal space. Unlike the absolutist all seeing gaze of Foucault’s panopticon, with the oligopticon “extremely narrow views of the (connected) whole are made possible–as long as connections hold” (p.181, Reassembling the Social). By drawing our attention to the complexity of these ‘co-existences’, the work ultimately demonstrates the sheer impossibility of understanding Paris or any urban space through a single image or glance.