For a while (maybe a pirate's lifetime) this table is occupied entirely by its purpose as a ship, when play concludes it returns to its basic table form. But for those who encountered the table in its pirate ship form, it will never be the same again. Something has changed, a potential has been discovered, a feeling experienced, a possibility revealed.
TAZ is a series of five commissions with artists Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Ceri Buck, Sarah Cole, Lucille Power and Charlotte Prodger based on the concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone as presented by Pete King at the Play Education 2007 conference.
Taking Play theory as its starting point TAZ began with a training programme in which the commissioned artists were introduced to theories of the 16 play types, the compensatory play space (an artificial environment created by Playworkers to exaggerate opportunities for play diversity) and the role of the play worker. Using this Play model to interpret their role as artists within a social commissioning agenda, their invitation was to develop an idea, to experiment within their practice and to explore how their practice could be opened up through collaboration to develop a temporary community.
The community, compensatory space or Temporary Autonomous Zone then became a way of looking at the process of making work, of collaborating, and of extending practice to include other people. TAZ is not concerned with an end product or an outcome, but with what happens within its space, place or timeframe; with the dialogues generated, the problems encountered, the changes made and the moments when the artist loses control of the process.
Image: Footwear adapted for greater sonic effect worn by participants during Marches, TAZ, May 2008. Photograph: Tom Sedgwick
February 2008 - May 2009
There are thousands of plants out there and I have no idea what they are, what their purpose is, how long they’ve been around, what relationships they have with other plant, insect and animal life. Now I’ve opened my eyes to the plants, I feel like I’m in a different land. Brixton is teeming with plant life. — Walk participant
Invisible Food was created by writer and artist Ceri Buck who picked nettles with her neighbours on the Loughborough Estate, Brixton, beginning a diverse investigation into the edible plants which grow wild in the neighbourhood. She taught the roadside Caribbean cafe how to make elderflower fritters and in conversation with those she met developed and toured the Invisible Food Cafe.
Invisible Food developed through a series of walks with local residents in the green spaces around the Estate. After walking the participants made or cooked something such as tea, jam, cordials, quiches, soup or cakes with the herbs, flowers and berries they found. Invisible food is a tool to learn about wild plants and it offers another way of perceiving London; a walk of discovery, Invisible Food lives in the conversations held during the walks and invites participation beyond the bounds of the project through a broadly distributed map and selection of plant identification cards and recipes, printed and distributed to the 1,200 homes on the Loughborough Estate.
The Invisible Food Cafe - a roaming cafe of wild herb teas, jams, cakes and cordials, drawings, recipes and books - visited the Loughborough Primary School summer fair, Bonkersfest, Lambeth Country show, Peckham Green Fair, Transition Town Brixton Unleashing and Peoples’ Republic of Southwark fair in 2008.
Image: Comfrey and Elderflower cuttings taken 14 June during Invisible Food, 2008. Photograph: Rachel Anderson
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
February 2008 - May 2009
This compilation of performance, cartographic illustration, sound recordings, writings, shoe making and research are all processes to enable an alternative reading of the city, one which has lost concern for function and is left only with transit. Marches illustrates a city that is waiting between two points, a city that existed briefly and for no purpose. — Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Marches by Lawrence Abu Hamdan is an audio recording, booklet and map documenting two performances on 23 May 2008.
Following an extensive period of research with individuals ranging from protest marchers and London walks guides to forgotten library archives in Stepney Green, Abu Hamdan choreographed two marches in the Queen’s Walk and Tower Hill areas of the city, locations distinct for their lively history and mottled aural atmosphere. Procession routes and pathways were woven together to create new navigations along which a small troop of marchers stomped wearing footwear adapted for greater sonic effect. Cobblers from Anthony Andrews Special Footwear and Orthotics in West London worked in partnership with Abu Hamdan to create customised footwear; loafers elevated on wooden platforms bearing hobnails, taps and quarter iron tips with leather insoles to induce squeaking. The sonic impulses created by these unique shoes acoustically defined the architectural space through which the marchers travelled.
These excursions into the city disturbed conventional perceptions of the built environment using the ephemeral nature of sound and revealed new ways to imagine our architectural surroundings.
Image: March participants wearing footwear adapted for greater sonic effect during TAZ, May 2008. Photograph: Rachel Anderson
February 2008 - May 2009
Her hands were positioned stiffly, about ten inches apart. The fingers furled, grasping space. Between them he could see that she was holding an imaginary object, the object in the photograph. Her eyes narrowed. He stared. First at her, then at the space through which her gaze was locked. He needed to shift his chair in order to share her view. She remained motionless, locked with outstretched arms. Between the hands, tightly framed, lay the mountainside. The first swelling rise, and to its right the sharp drop into deep ravine. Then up again, over the soft fold of the next peak. Drop down to the next ravine. Peak. Ravine. Hand.
Metalpleater is a 16mm film made by Charlotte Prodger in collaboration with silversmith Maya Selway. Metalpleater tells a fragment of a story that weaves the complexities of bloodlines and timelessness into the creation of a mythical hybrid tool used by an artist to pleat mountains. Inspired by the Perast mountains in Montenegro, Charlotte wrote the story of the Metalpleater which describes a chance encounter between a man and a woman - the woman, an artist, casually claims that she made a tool to construct the landscape before them.
The film describes the process of making that tool, with silversmith Maya Selway crafting a pleating tool from silver, a tool for looking through, a tool to pleat mountains. Its crafting echoes the medieval processes used to make mirrors from highly polished silver surfaces.
The film presents a fraction of the story and invites the viewer to complete the object and its application. Other aspects of the work include a poster advertising the ‘woman who pleats mountains’, a legend written in contemporary language, and a series of improvised musical recordings made in collaboration with a ten piece female collective that weave Charlottes and Maya’s conversations together and capture the realisation of the Metalpleater.
The project was made in collaboration with Maya Selway and musical collective Muscles of Joy.
Image: Charlotte Prodger marking copper sheet during Metalpleater, 2008. Photograph: Rachel Anderson
February 2008-May 2009
Lucille Power created a compensatory space which nurtured a small group to come to terms with their ‘inner trucker’. She worked with a small group of Queer and Transgender women and men to playfully experiment with transgender roleplay including character development, costume and makeup. Her emphasis was on an open skill share platform with no allocated expert; the participants shared knowledge and experience and together researched the themes and process.
The group developed characters which playfully addressed and subverted some of their negative experiences of homophobia, sexism, racism and violence into characters they could put on and take off with the costumes, and they undertook several outings around London including bowling in character and greasy spoon cafe lunches.
Playing in the margins of the queer and adult play world, Truckers presented a momentary uprising at Duckie’s Gay Shame in July and worked with LCC photography student Cleo Lang to produce a series of photographs at ‘Bar Wotever’.
Image: Participants exploring their 'inner trucker' through collective role play at Bar Wotever. Photograph: Cleo Lang
A one-day conference about play
See the full conference programme
Wednesday 20 May 2009
9.30am – 5pm
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
372 Kennington Lane
In 2007 we attended the PlayEducation conference in Wolverhampton, and became interested in using play as a metaphor to speak about artistic practice.
Play is something we can all relate to. It’s an essential part of our human development and we all have memories and experiences of it. Our attendance at the conference inspired two programmes of commissions, TAZ, which began in 2008 and will finish in May 2009 and Pirate Utopias which begins later this summer.
Part of our interest in Play practice is the way that it encompasses and embodies so many of our adult concerns; responsibility, risk, fun, recovery, politics, inclusion, conflict, environment, belonging, being.
This one day conference is for people who work in the arts and on the peripherals of Play. It platforms a discussion about the parallels between collaborative practice, socially engaged commissioning and Play and seeks to bring these dialogues out beyond the Playworld and into a broader context.
Speakers included key Play specialists and practitioners Pete King, Martin Maudsley, Jess Milne, Wendy Russell and Jayne Stansfeld.
Image: Footwear adapted for greater sonic effect worn by a participant during Marches, May 2008. Photograph: Rachel Anderson
Who made this possible?