Waste Agency

2014 - 2015
Waste Agency

John McKiernan

Discussing consumption and wastefulness, this 4-month intervention in the City of London challenged workers in the Europe’s financial capital whether an economic system built on natural resources and oil is it really sustainable.

Background

Waste Agency was a 4-month art performance intervention in a disused HMV record store in the City of London, the UK’s financial heart and the World’s insurance and derivatives capital, exploring why we built an economy based on consumption and wastefulness.

Introducing The Waste Agency

Nestled between London’s two latest skyscrapers, the Leadenhall Building aka `The Cheesegrater’, and 20 Fenchurch Street aka `The Walkie-Talkie’, Platform-7 has taken over a disused HMV* for 6 weeks as part of a new 3-month performance art intervention, the Waste.Agency. In addition, London Cannon Street train station± will be exhibiting a range of artworks, curated by Platform-7 as part of this project.

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Consumption and Wastefulness

Discussing consumption and wastefulness, the intervention will explore the economic system built on natural resources and oil, which the majority of the world’s population has come to rely on, and asks the question, is it really sustainable?

Artists, Academics & Audiences

The majority of the artists exhibit or perform internationally, many talks and discussions were be led by senior academics, most highly specialist in their subject area, and there will be presentations from innovators, sparking discussion, debate and eventually pollinating the mind-seeds to grow potential solutions.

The project was free and open to everyone, although the first stage was deliberately aimed at financiers, insurers and lawmakers for the simple reason that the city wields enormous power and decisions made within the many office towers impact a large proportion of the world’s population.

Over-Consumption

No solution to the present over-consumption of natural resources can be found without discussing the fundamentals of the legal and economic framework that the world presently operates within. This first stage is a conversation with those who understand the intricacies of finance and legal machinations that the economic world revolves around and whether a new perspective can develop in considering consumption and waste.

Old HMV Record Store**

On Friday 3rd October, without fanfare, Waterstones kindly gave over the keys to this large open space that once housed the eponymous record store chain HMV, right in the very heart of the city of London on Whittington Avenue. A thriving district, this single Square Mile of essentially financiers, lawyers and insurers is estimated to turnover in excess of £2trillion per week (so an insurance boss claimed), Monday to Friday, more the majority of sovereign nations.

Intervention Schedule

On Friday 3rd October, without fanfare, Waterstones kindly gave over the keys to this large open space that once housed the eponymous record store chain HMV, right in the very heart of the city of London on Whittington Avenue. A thriving district, this single Square Mile of essentially financiers, lawyers and insurers is estimated to turnover in excess of £2trillion per week (so an insurance boss claimed), Monday to Friday, more the majority of sovereign nations.

Re-Imagining Ladies Tights and Methodologies

Akleriah and Platform-7’s Re-imagining Ladies Tights was also establish within in the store. Having already toured London borough of Lewisham (2013), Camden (2014) and locations around the City, this powerful project, in the form of a giant tights ball, demonstrated how these pretty and seemingly innocuous items damage the world.

Using research and methodologies developed through various embedded interventions and one-off multi-location simultaneous abstract art performances, the Waste.Agency was Platform-7’s first endeavour in applying the learning acquired from interventions since 2009.

Provocation

To understand the approach being employed for the Waste.Agency it was worth setting a hypothetical question:

“If the world was doomed to end tomorrow, and societal structures dissolved, i.e. Police and government workers left their positions to be with their families, how many people would go looting shops?”

Is getting stuff so embedded that with only moments left a person would spend those last hours seeking a product they desired?

The question will hopefully never be answered, as we optimistically assume such a crisis will never arise, yet it sets the tone of the conversation – what is driving our need to consume?

Purpose in Life

In responding to a question on Channel4 News regarding why people are leaving the UK to join the Islamic State group (known in UK as IS or ISIL), Archbishop Justin Welby answer incorporates a much broader issue facing the Western lifestyle.

Channel 4’s Simon Israel, “Do you accept we have arrived here because we are losing a propaganda war, be it faith, be it politics, be it economics, we are losing it?”

Archbishop Welby, “I think it is more than a propaganda war […] I think it goes to the heart of what motivates people and gives them a sense that they have value in life, and a purpose in life…”

The Waste Agency will be considering value is all it forms, both humanistic and natural. Visit the website www.waste.agency
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Purpose in Life