The Southbank Centre invited me to create a language installation for the Festival of Neighbourhood. The site stretches from Waterloo Bridge to the London Eye, and incorporates the new Jubilee Gardens that front the old Shell complex.
Language is a strong theme in this year’s summer festivities. They include the London Literary Festival, typo-graphics by Bob and Roberta Smith, Yoko Ono’s Meltdown, and a season of stand-ups at the Udderbelly inflatable theatre. Bob and Roberta talk beautifully about the value of creative expression in this D&AD film. Yoko has been exploring the relationship between words and actions in performance art since the 1950s when she was mentored by John Cage. See this glorious clip of her 80th birthday celebrations at the Volksbühne (people’s theatre) in Berlin.
To source material for this show, I designed a workshop for Southbank staff exploring the vernacular language we all use in our neighbourhoods. These feral phrases appear to be trivial or even subliminal, but represent a highly stylised form of communication; a kind of sonar we send out to gauge relationships and assert ourselves. These sound bites are loaded with other meanings that are as much about existentialism as making contact, and celebrate the wit and wisdom that glues our social networks together.
Thanks to Jude Kelly, Shân Maclennan, Julie Flavell, Elin Williams, Southbank staff, Jasmine Cooray and Steve Smith at Urban Narrative.