28 September 2009

I Am Here (in a Haggerston council estate)

Back in May I went for a walk round the Regents Canal. The building below stood out: brightly marked as condemned a target for regeneration, yet nothing actually generating there - nothing, in fact, happening since April 2007. It is set for demolition in 2011, so what a strange four years for its remaining residents.

That's what Andrea Luka Zimmerman, Lasse Johansson and Tristan Fennell thought too. They live there, and have been documenting the Haggerston estate in a programme they are calling FLAT (see http://haggerston-kingsland.blogspot.com/. This is what they did:

Boarded-up and half-empty housing estates have become familiar landmarks in the contemporary urban landscape. Their fa├žades function as projection screens for collective fears and fantasies of troubled and dangerous environments that may lurk behind. This perception is all the more emphasized when rapid redevelopment encircles such estates with new luxury loft apartments and live–work spaces.

I Am Here intervenes in this dynamic of preconception and projection, replacing the 67 bright orange boards – which have covered the windows of empty flats in Samuel House since April 2007 – with large-scale photographs of residents on the estate.

"I am here", echoing the signs around the estate that inform you that "You are here". Perhaps critiquing this representation of 'here' as a geometric diagram, as if that's ever what being-in-place was really about. Claiming subjectivity, "I" - an assertion, an ownership, the right to the city - for all the people who aren't on the map bar a little red dot labelled "You".


soyelmango said...

Hey, that's a good find. It's a [seemingly] simple idea that softens the demise of an estate for those living through it - or at least that's what I'd think as an outsider, or what the trio might think as arteests.

From a swift browse of the blogspot link, I can't see any feedback from residents.

Jay said...

Hah, I love it: I turn up in their Responses page! Thanks for the link alongside the Guardian & the BBC, guys!

Mango: Hmm, I thought I saw comments on the actual IAmHere.org.uk website which I recall including some local-sounding types, though I'm struggling to re-find it now. There are audio interviews with passers-by, but not residents. Hmm. If there is no resident feedback you raise an important point.

Anonymous said...

hi Jay and Soyelmango, there are quite a few responses from residents, though in a perhaps different format - have a look at SogandB's video on vimeo [http://vimeo.com/6744192], it was a party organised by residents alongside the launch. the website already has windows for residents to make their own web projects when you click on the faces and more, but please be patient, we are just setting it up and its only us and will take a wee while. this is a long term project and because we are doing this on goodwill it just takes s long as it takes. if you have any ideas please let us know more, you can contact me via www.iamhere.org, Andrea

Anonymous said...

oh, and here, too, that's what you may have seen, its now order reversed, newest top...


Bea said...

hi, i doing a Photo documentary project as part ta my course on the metropolitan university, and i would like to document the last month of the residents of Haggerston state, i dont know how to get in contact with them so if anyone could help me im will really appreciating . I let you my email address to get in touch with me. Quecuxo@hotmail.com

Many thanks

Beatriz Penedo .