Welcome panel session:
Routes and Rhythms: Stuart Hall, placing metropolitan ‘heritage’ in question
In 1999, Stuart Hall gave a keynote lecture on ‘heritage’ to the Arts Council of England. In that keynote, Hall argued that the ingrained habits of the heritage industry in Britain—locked within very particular ideas regarding nation, people, history and landscape—are ‘unsettled’ by histories of empire, migration, and new forms of cultural practice. In place of a concept of heritage as necessarily concerned with the conservation and preservation of a ‘national’ past, Hall proposed a ‘cultural heritage’ that is always in construction and transformation.
In this short paper I will set out Hall’s main arguments on the crisis of ‘heritage’ and the potential of his alternative. I will suggest how this is informed by Hall’s own experience as a member of the African diaspora, as a Jamaican arriving in Britain in 1951 who embraced new forms of popular cinematic and musical culture, as expressive of a distinctly metropolitan experience, ever shifting, ever reconstructed, in refrains, and in rhythms, that never settle.
Followed by responses from Michael McMillan, Nazneen Ahmed and Nabeel Hamdi, discussion chaired by Claire Dwyer.
Exchanges and Workshops
Morning - 11am-1pm approx
Laundering Change: Creating Solidarity - Assembly SE8, Critical Practice Research Cluster and public works
This session aims to build solidarities across London-based struggles against gentrification. We will experiment with the creative and collaborative practice of banner making to identify, articulate and share ways we are united as well as distinct in our resistance. Learn more about the tactics and strategies that community-organised oppositions can deploy to negotiate change.
After quick-fire introductions by those individuals/groups in attendance, we’ll then partner up and collaborate to create each other’s banners. This begins with distilling scenes, stories, sentiments, etc. into select slogans. What forms these will take and how they will feature can’t be anticipated in advance. But we like the idea of making the banners from discarded and even soiled sheets and displaying them for the duration of Brixton Exchange 2. This way, we’ll honour the history of the newly (re)opened Effraspace as a former laundry, while also airing ‘art washing’ other dirty laundry that results from negotiating the dual forces of complicity and cooptation that shape the lived experience of gentrification.
Bring sheets (they do not need to be clean--best if not) and any special stuff to decorate your banners to supplement what we have on hand.
Post-war Social Housing memories - Gianmaria Givanni
In the current climate of redevelopment, our city is undergoing an extensive and rapid change. Whilst change is a necessary part of the evolution of cities some communities are being marginalised, dispersed and forgotten. Brixton has been targeted as an area for redevelopment and as a consequence, the socio-economic tension of regeneration is being played out. Post-war housing was conceived as a utopian vision with a remit to improve people's lives by providing access to healthy environments and offering an alternative way of living to poor communities. Whilst the problems with post-war housing are often publicised as a vehicle for redevelopment the stories and the voices of communities that live there are rarely heard or valued. The heritage of communities and their histories within post-war housing developments is often overlooked.
The workshop is an invitation for people who live in and have first-hand experiences with post-war housing to share their experiences. The session will take the form of a discussion based on a ‘decade by decade’ structure starting from 1945 to the present day. Participants are invited to talk, ‘make a mark’ and record their stories. In the afternoon, there will be an opportunity to share experiences on an individual basis in the form of 1-1 interviews. The interviews will be captured as audio pieces and act as a recording of untold stories of the heritage of these communities for future generations.
What does Brixton taste like? - Fan Sissoko
Food has the power to provide a link to home, a sense of belonging and connection. Brixton is a food hub. And as the neighbourhood changes, its food culture changes too. How does that affect our sense of feeling at home in Brixton? And how does it affect how we connect with each other? During this session, we will:
Share ingredients and recipes that make us feel at home
Collect personal stories that relate to food and Brixton, and create a local food map that is both collective and personal
Make up recipes that bring together the memories and flavours that each participant bring along with them
Bring an ingredient to this session.
Afternoon - 2-4pm approx
Internal colonialism and the possibility of decolonising heritage - Barby Asante
The NO BLACKS, NO DOGS and NO IRISH signs of the 1950's, 60's and 70's drove people to develop communities in places like Notting Hill, Kilburn, Whitechapel, Haringey, Peckham and Brixton, often creating a magnetic welcoming feeling to "others" who could identify with these communities through cultural similarities of their journeys, food, religion or a representational recognition. These spaces also attracted creative people from the dominant culture who felt on the outside of society looking for vibrant cheap or free places to live. In recent times with the demand for property in these "exotic" and "edgy" areas, the people who enlivened these neighbourhoods are being displaced by people initially attracted to the vibrancy and diversity of the area, but quick to embrace the changes "for the better" when the economic benefits of more desirable businesses, rising property prices and neighbours more like themselves arrive. Using archival material gathered from her own artistic research Barby invites people to join her in a working dialogue to rethink the heritage of such places, and wether in the process of gentrification the traces of what was there before are erased to become an historic mythology of an (uncivilised) place, much improved by political and economic intervention, much like the narratives of colonial encounters.
Who Knows? - Bureau of Silly Ideas
Tales of Contested Spaces - Ashvin de Vos and Daniel Fitzpatrick, Variant Office architects
The people who have lived and breathed in Brixton have many memories connected to the spaces they use on a daily basis.
Brixton is not new to change, but today change is occurring at a far more rapid pace than in the past and in that maelstrom, a variety of local are spaces subject to clashes of ownership and ideology as new patterns, cultures and activities are imposed on them.
What are these Brixton tales and what can we learn from them in order to better frame where Brixton is going?
Over the course of the workshop we will develop with local people creative ways of discussing their issues of contested spaces, both past and present, we will map out their memories and lived experiences of those spaces and we will create some practice maps of the institutions and practices that went into shaping those contested spaces.
We will use these results to look at future spaces that look likely to be contested and find ways of developing new tactics based on their memories and voices. The workshop will be a model-making exercise in understanding contested spaces of the past and to look forward to how contested spaces of the future can be better shaped by opening up to the collective creativity.
Throughout the Day (drop in session)
Brixton Museum – Katy Beinart
The Brixton Museum is an artwork, a display space and a collecting device to record and share individual memories and the communal heritage of Brixton. The design of the Museum is based on the street market traders trolleys and the roof structure is taken from original scale drawings of the arcades which once stood on Electric Avenue. Objects in the Museum are not originals but are re-made by the artists, standing in for the objects and stories we have been given and told. Each object represents a connection to Brixton as a home, a place of arrival and belonging. People come and go through Brixton leaving just a residue of their presence, but these traces are important to document and record, particularly as such rapid change is taking place. We invite Brixtonians past and present to contribute to the Museum by offering a story and an object to the collection.
Bring an object to be recorded.
Final Session: Reconvening and sharing of outcomes