Turf Projects (Whitgift Centre, CR0 1UQ), Wandle Park, Reeves Corner, Park Hill Park
RESIST AND PLAY takes stills from footage at Leeds West Indian Carnival, small frozen moments in time which I have subjected to differing levels of degradation. I re-photographed the stills and soaked them in household chemicals. I want to explore abstraction as a way to hide or conceal information and destroying the photograph as a way to cloak a body, as a form of masquerade. Many questions bubble to the surface: is the process of developing the photograph ritualistic? Is it violent? Bright colour captures the imagination but sometimes it obscures the body. It is indeterminate in the photographs whether the process of degrading them is an act of power and resistance or an act of violence, of silencing. The carnival backdrop is a space of seemingly little consequence. It is a play space but it is also a space to subvert power through mimicry and mockery.
At Reeves Corner, I similarly want to consider the power of the spectator in carnival and Black or Mixed-race bodies in rural spaces. Spaces such as the one pictured here in rural Yorkshire where I grew up. Accessing my Bahamian heritage through TV, first-hand accounts and photographs, how should I then respond living as a child in a rural, isolated area? I am not uncommon. The image is resistive, it affirms that Black bodies also exist in rural spaces. At the carnival is the spectator the one who absorbs and retransmits, retells and judges? Or does the spectator depend on the performer? UK carnivals are complex in that they affirm the culture of the Black community but carnival is also absorbed and celebrated in White communities too.
Wandle Park takes a more poetic approach. I like the idea that there is something about the experience of carnival which can’t be communicated through the images. The yellow text- ‘I stand at the fire and I become aware of my uniform’ is an appropriation of Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks, which comes to me in fragments: ‘My body was given back to me sprawled out, distorted, re-colored, clad in mourning in that white winter day…All this whiteness that burns me…I sit down at the fire and I become aware of my uniform. I had not seen it…’
At Park Hill there is an image which shows Harrison Bundy Mama Dread’s Masqueraders at Leeds West Indian Carnival. Their theme this year was Windrush Bacchanal, depicting the dress of the Caribbean immigrants who arrived here after the Second World War. Given that some in the Windrush generation now face deportation, it is vital that the issue is visible to the wider community. For me it is important to ask how colour and costume help that plight.
The Leeds West Indian Centre has a similar view to the peace garden at Park Hill. There is greenery, a community structure and a view to the town or city that lies beyond. A community space might also be thought of as a space for peace. Couldn’t then the garden also be thought of as a space for masquerade or play? Could it perform for or represent the people that use it? I was heartened to learn that in the coming months it would house a stage. It seems the trees themselves are clothes hangers for messages of peace.
I am not the traveller that visits you from that other place.
I am not the Afronaut who has come to show you your past
Through thinly veiled allegory.
I am the here and now.
The carnival that you do not know.
The protest that you would not recognise.
Resist and Play
// ABOUT FUNGUS PRESS
As concerns grow regarding the privatisation of public spaces across London, and elsewhere, Fungus Press invites artists, designers & writers to respond to Croydon’s public spaces through a series of newly commissioned billboard artworks.
Sites include; Wandle Park’s community garden and pond; Park Hill Park’s walled garden; and Reeves Corner. The programme of artworks is complimented by a series of other works, including; published texts, walking tours and an audio guide.
The text-based posters aim to discuss and celebrate the importance and potential of Croydon’s public spaces, offering alternative ways to navigate the area; both geographically and temporally. They speak of Croydon’s untold past and its yet to be written future; reasserting the essential role that green spaces play throughout civic life: from articulating our sense of place, to encouraging democratic engagement.
The Reeves Corner structure was designed by George Chinnery. This structure uses visual signifiers from its immediate environment, including the ‘House of Reeves’ furniture shop and the Reeves Corner roundabout’s white picket fence. The structure also references the recent history of the area, commemorating the Reeves’ family furniture shop, part of which was sadly burnt down in Croydon’s 2011 riots.
The Park Hill Park noticeboard was designed and made by artist & woodcarver Esme Toler.
Fungus Press curated by Chris Alton.
With thanks to Arts Council England, Croydon Council, Chris Alton, Oscar Gaynor, Rhea Storr, Museums Press, Peter Nencini, Bryony Quinn, Sam Cotterell, Laura Eldret, Luke Nairn, Godai Sahara, Kitty Clark, Adam Bridgland and Lee Johnson, Phoebe Baines, pea proposals, Marie Jacotey, Esme Toler, Jemma Egan, Jaione Cerrato, Åbäke, Leah Clements, Ed Hill, Alex Brenchley, Bryony Gillard, Emily Pope, An Endless Supply, Harry Meadley, Ben Cain, Emily Speed, Tom & Simon Bloor, Emily MaCartan, Michael Dryden, Joseph Curran, George Chinnery, Barnaby Lee, Paul Myers, Chris Mewies, Alastair McKinlay, Paul Harrison, Jack Kew, Thomas Smith, Andrew Dickinson & Friends of Park Hill Park.