Alternative London by Nicholas Saunders. Image Credit: Nicholas Saunders
Today's urban middle-classes are in the late stages of cognitive dissonance, engaged in what the writer Tom Wolfe called ‘double tracking’: enjoying the cultural benefits of leaning left and the financial benefits of leaning right.
Double tracking extends the hand of the accountant exchanging a fiver for an artisanal loaf, froths the milk of the graphic designers drinking flat whites while sitting on hessian sacks, and sprays the can of the legally sanctioned graffiti on the side of a pop-up container city.
This tour will explore South East London, looking at how tropes of alternative, marginalised and antiestablishment culture are deployed in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. The tour will be joined by artist Emily Pope and will finish with a screening of Pope’s film Shoplifting at Arcadia Missa. The second film in Emily Pope's ongoing series explores semi-illegal millennial lifestyles, and the social and economic realities facing artists working in London, see below for more information.
Rosanna Mclaughlin is a writer and curator. She is currently working on a book of collected essays on the duplicities of the middle-classes, published by Little Island Press in 2018.
Emily Pope is an artist whose practice explores the potential of socio-political monologues and how these function within contemporary media. Recent exhibitions & projects include, The Court Summons, Ladette Space, London, Tarantellegra, Hester, New York, Trace Programme w/ Aspirational Living, Nottingham, On Coping, Auto Italia, London, and together with Ruth Angel Edwards, Got 2 B radio show on Resonance FM.
Meeting point to be provided prior to the event.
6.30pm screening at Arcadia Missa in Peckham
Whilst I don’t think I’ve harmed myself or others too much during the making of this episode, I have learnt that things really do have to get worse before they get better. Everyone around me and therefore also me, because every person you sample produces a self portrait, is slowly losing their mind in a more entrenched and complex and way than I previously suspected. I am struggling to see whose story is whose anymore due to widespread confusion and the ridiculous assumption that one story is in fact exclusive to only one person, and not mirrored 25 times across a community affected by the same social and economic conditions.
This episode is about multiplicities of inconsequential stealing; low level shoplifting, ‘borrowing’ anecdotes, bootlegging song lyrics, and filming people in secret. My friends are still playing my friends, but this time - they don’t know that they are doing it. Which says something about complicity of the actress in the four women formula on screen - so - I’m hanging onto that conceptual thread.
After Episode 1, I realised that coming down off ketamine lying on top of a butterfly duvet from Primark, and then taking a photograph of the results, really does smack of a life lived under the radar. I am living my own groundbreaking and ever-so-underground yet high street web series, and it really is worse than anything BBC Three comes up with. I’m concerned this sounds a bit too KNOWING, if you know what I mean, but I’m just really fucked off at the moment.
If you hadn’t already worked this out - I’m making a series too. The idea is to end up with a legitimate sitcom. The theme of each episode will be about something vaguely illegal, but illegal in a way which doesn’t really pose a threat. There is a lineage between receiving a court summons for not paying the council tax, and scanning an avocado as an onion through the self scanner in Tesco. This episode will still reference the failure of making what you want to make, further episodes will eventually show a ‘neoliberal’ climb towards a ‘successful’ piece of work.
This particular stage documents learning the lesson that you really do have to hit a low point, in order to snap your psyche into some form of aspirational making.
- Emily Pope