Brick Lane slice

May 27, 2011

Having lived in the immediate vicinity for almost 9 years, and working with sound as my main medium, I suppose Brick Lane has come to me rather than me choosing it. I have long been fascinated by the place’s rich history and the conglomerate of cultures found there today.

On my piece of the slice the points of interest abound – Bangladeshi restaurants with street hawkers preying on potential customers, Bangladeshi sweets shops, a Church of England school with mainly Bangladeshi pupils, an unused pub that had a reputation for ‘erotic dancing’, religious bookshops that play music and prayers all day long, a cornershop that sells alcohol until late into the night to the party crowd that descends on Brick Lane in the evening, a travel agent specialising in Hajj and Umrah service, a hairdresser, one of the few remaining pubs that has not been bought by a multinational brewery conglomerate.


I still need to spend some time recording the ensuing auditory pastich, talking to locals and passersby, to build an archive of interesting material. In the meantime I followed my interest in representations of place and have found a variety of material on youtube that might make its way into my work in some form or another: Bangladeshi youths raucously celebrating a cricket victory, hipsters hanging out on Brick Lane, fun times at the curry restaurant, a riot at an American Apparel fashion sale, a person dressed up as a bear dancing in the street, Bangladeshi youths striking gangster poses, the Baishakhi Mela. One video related to a campaign against the bulldozing of some of the area struck a chord with me – people holding up placards of the voiceover text: Our opinions will be bulldozed along with our surroundings:

Two more things I’m interested in are collaborating with an artist/a group from Lahore, perhaps to create some kind of representation of a real-and-imagined place that exists somewhere between the Lahore and the London slice, and intervening in the physical space somehow. To this end I’m considering buying a few motion-activated sound players, devices that are used by Altzheimer sufferers who can use them to record messages that remind them, for example, to lock the door as they leave their house. The sound players could be installed both at a location on Brick Lane and one in Lahore, and loaded with recordings from the other place that would be activated whenever someone passes, creating an immaterial link between the two places. I don’t know how long these devices would last in a place like Brick Lane, but I think it could be a nice experiment.


Walking the slice

Connection attempts

Conference call