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-year performance art intervention, the waste.agency [map]. In addition, London Cannon Street train station± will be exhibiting a range of artworks and photography, some concerning trackside scrap, curated by Platform-7 as part of this project.
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 will 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 is free and is open to everyone, although the first stage is 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.
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.
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 day, Monday to Friday, more the majority of sovereign nations.
Initially over the first 6 weeks the space will be slowly cleaned, with artworks beginning to appear, firstly in the windows and then in the shop itself. The process will be slow, and may appear weird to many. There will be an amnesty for people to return old tape cassettes, CDs, vinyl records and videocassettes that will become the backdrop to the discussion and eventually be fully recycled by EMS-Environmental.
Another Platform-7 project called Re-imagining Ladies Tights will also establish itself at the store. Having already toured London borough of Lewisham (2013), Camden (2014) and presently touring locations around the City, this powerful project, in the form of a giant tights ball, demonstrates 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 will be Platform-7’s first endeavour in applying the learning acquired since 2009.
*Kindly provided by Waterstones bookshop
± In association with Network Rail
§ Thanks to RSRproperties and the team working at Leadenhall Waterstones bookshop
To understand the approach being employed for this project it is 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?
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?”
“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
Listen to the full interview and read Simon Israel accompanying blog here.