This summer we have been in residence at Phytology, Bethnal Green Nature Reserve working on a commission for the billboard. Phytology is an artist led project exploring use, value, resilience and function of wildness within urban ecosystems.
The billboard is set within the site and faces outwards towards the City of London. Our project responds to its position, using the billboard as a space in which to ‘speak to the city’ with a series of statements that evolve and change each week over a period of 4 months.
Situated in Tower Hamlets, a borough with some of most deprived areas in London, the billboard stands only a mile from one of richest. A powerful global financial centre, London is one of the most unequal cities in the developed world.
Taking on the radical East End tradition of resistance, the billboard statements act as a challenge to the City and its logic of prosperity through financial growth. Drawing on our interest in the politics of language and how words carry social historical meanings, a series of simple statements such as ‘we work’, ‘we question’, ‘we fight’ and ‘we multiply’ suggest a process or story of collective action.
Like a puzzle or game, each word morphs into the next by adding and covering letters, pasted up by members and users of Phytology, the local community and ourselves. As each word becomes the next, a narrative of resistance is told as the seasons change from Summer to Winter.
On September 1st we gave a talk during Phytology shared lunch and made dampers over a campfire. During the last week of Speaking to the City in mid-December, there will be a bonfire at Phytology to celebrate the season, we hope you can join us.
Please see documentation of the billboard as it changes: