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Goodbye London and the Trip Home

Posted: March 8th, 2010

Blogging from New York! Still running on very little energy, but happy to be in my native time zone. Yesterday was a bit of a blur, Mary and I woke up to post party madness in the office. Last nights rave left bodies littered on the floor sleeping on couch cushions, and one final drunken art installation in the bathroom. Here are few priceless snaps of our post-party organizer friends.

Gadi waking up on the radio station floor:

Nathan sleeping on last nights dance floor

Remnants of a bathroom Happening


Mary and I headed to Camden to get gifts to bring home. We felt like posers getting tourist knickknacks since we never made it to the city center, so we mainly stocked up on the staples of our trip— tea, cheap biscuits, chocolate (although Mary did get a bad ass skull and crossbones british flag patch, and I bought a very bright purple I heart London hoodie.)

We then headed back to the estate to say our goodbyes. We said a final farewell on on the Market Estate radio, and hugs to Gadi, Chris, Nathan and Gaby, and to the building. I felt a little sad knowing that the estate will soon be gone, but we are also happy that we got to work on site while it was still there. This place was so generative and productive to our work, and we feel great about what we’ve left with. We only can hope that the future of this site is a positive one, for the new residents that will be housed in the next incarnation of flats built, and for the neighborhood overall. We look forward to following its progress from a distance, as well as future endeavors from the TallTales organizers.

Chris, the Market Radio Host with sleepy Mary

One Final Group Shot:

Gaby and Lihu helped us lug our bags to the tube as we headed to the airport. We were so happy to have them with us since we were re-routed and would have been terribly confused otherwise. Mary and I departed on the train, although goodbye for us just means until the next email or phone call. We still have work to do in our near future, finalizing our installation edits, and finding the right venue to show this work that we’re proud of. We look forward to showing what we’ve done, taking the time to process and reflect on the project, do some writing, and get feedback.

Thanks to all who followed us on our trip. We will continue to actively post, probably not daily, but regularly. Stay tuned for our finished pieces.

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Final Day at The Market Estate

Posted: March 7th, 2010

Today was the big day around The Market Estate. Everyone was up early, and I’m sure many never went to bed.   After Blithe edited into the early morning and I prepared our room, we both had to rely on caffeine and adrenaline to push us through.

The excitement could be felt everywhere today.  Lots of great art. Lots of people came to check it out.  The queue wrapped around the corner to get into the estate.

Blithe and I are both in bed while a huge party is currently happening upstairs. I hear dancing, yelling and European techno, I believe.  We are too exhausted to join in, but I’m happy that everyone is having the chance to celebrate their hard work.

Today we showed both the three-channel and two-channel videos in our old home-the 6th floor flat.

We got a lot of good feedback and talked with the hundreds of people who came to see the work.  We also had the pleasure of being visited by friends throughout the day.

Maria, our new friend and artist working here as well said something that I felt was very true tonight.  She said, “What you’ve done is impossible.  It’s just not possible to come to a new place and make this kind of work in two weeks.”  I agree but we did do this and I’m very pleased with what we are coming away from here with-not just the work but the experience as a whole.

This is all for tonight but not for the blog.

There will be more soon on the day today and our reflections of the Market Estate experience after some sleep and a flight across the Atlantic.

Congratulations everyone!!

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Market Estate: Don’t know the day or time: Midnight oil

Posted: March 6th, 2010

Nearly 3 am. I am editing and Mary is sleeping. Still working on our piece for tomorrow. Ran into some technical challenges today- Final Cut made our videos look horrible at 33% scale when exported to DV. Since we don’t have three projectors, we are doing a mock-up on one screen. So now everything must go into AfterEffects… probably for the best, but more time consuming.

Excited to see the project come together and get a chance to relax a bit tomorrow.

To tired to say much, but here are some highlights:
Mary installed projector shelves despite a lack of powertools and decent walls.
Naya and Hans came over and we got a quick bite. It was wonderful to see them.
Gaby brought us homemade lemon poppy seed muffins.
Maria left us a super special bar of chocolate on our door.

Must get back to work. Many photos tomorrow.
Sending love to all the artists up right now. Birds are starting to chirp.

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Market Estate: Thirteenth Day, Compiling!

Posted: March 4th, 2010

Morning: We discuss the installation of our piece. Blithe wants it on the windows. Mary does not want to lift anything. Blithe offers to cover them herself. Mary says no way, ambulance prescription you must edit all day and night. Tension. And its before coffee. Not smart.

Blithe goes to edit. Mary covers windows.


Midday we meet with Gaby, ask who is liaison between the organizers for details regarding our residency. She is doing her MA thesis at St. Martins on the subject of artist residencies in “conflicted areas.” She is including the Market Estate project as one of these sites, and we meet with her weekly to talk about our experience here. Today we had a especially good talk about how our time here has been generative and fruitful, while challenging.

We MOVED! We no longer live in the Estate. We live about 20 feet away in the office. It has heat and showers! We are happy although are sacrificing a little privacy. However we knew that it was time to move when the vomit was cleaned from the stairwell. When it moved, we knew we had to also.

Mary and Gadi cooked dinner tonight in the office.

Gadi in the kitchen!

It was nice to sit around a table with everyone and get a taste of the community experience we have been craving. One thing that we have missed is getting quality time with the organizers and other artists and having a space for dialog. It was nice to have  a little of that tonight, if however brief.

The night closes with Blithe and Mary drinking and looking at edited footage. We make some clear decisions about the rough cut of the Corridor video. We will finish a cut of it tomorrow. Blithe did some bulk editing on our three channel piece, although we have yet to make any structural decisions. That will be also be tomorrow.

The organizers are working very hard. The whole place is buzzing with artists as projects are being completed.

Command Central:

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Market Estate: Day 12: Our final shot

Posted: March 4th, 2010

Day 12 was stressful, but ultimately very productive. The site for our final shot hovers over another artists work, and the plans for that work include building a sculpture directly in our shot. So we realized that if we were going to complete our idea we had to act quickly. We spent the morning negotiating a time for us to shoot, and how we could protect her piece since this last shot involved heaving the pile off a balcony, an act that was just plain dangerous.

Once everything was settled we found out that a group of school kids were scheduled to play paintball right next to our site, and exactly during the time we had scheduled. For an hour or so we really thought that we weren’t going to be able to execute our idea, but thanks to Gadi and Anna (the artist who’s piece is in the shot location) we were able to finish.

The shot itself was stressful since we had to finish it in one take. Thankfully Mary performed without skipping a beat and the light cooperated for a full 40 minutes.

Mary is so happy to be done with the pile:

Sassy Pile:

Now we assemble what we’ve done. We are currently editing the first piece that we shot in one of the building corridors. Despite the fact that we were initially lukewarm on that piece, it is actually coming out really nice. Visually we are extremely happy with it and we think that it achieves the idea that we were going for— mainly talking about how the building architecture contributes to a type of  bodily conditioning, and to a production of fear. More often than not the anxiety experienced here is produced from the possibility of what might happen, what is invisible and unpredictable. The piece is ultimately simple and quiet, very different from the other one. We will post video when its completed.

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New York! The Bronx! Our piece at Synthetic Zero

Posted: March 3rd, 2010

We are still in London, viagra but our work is in the Bronx! Come see our installation Untitled #1 (Ascension/Immersion) at BronxArtSpace.  It will be shown tonight as well as Friday and Saturday.

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The next Synthetic Zero events will be on Wednesday, March 3rd, 6pm – 9pm, and Saturday, March 6th, 7pm – 10pm at the BronxArtSpace at 305 E. 140th St., #1A, Bronx NY 10454. The Synthetic Zero loft events will be part of the Bronx Culture Trolley. Note: the visual art exhibit will be open Fridays and Saturdays 2-7pm during the month of March 5-26.

Performances:
Jessica Danser/dansfolk
– “The Opposite of War” – dance (only on Saturday)
Elizabeth Glushko – music (only on Wednesday)
“Forty-Two Suns Rise” – video by Jane Hsu, live music by Amelia Lukas and Asami Tamura (only on Saturday)

Experimental Film:
Jeremy Newman – “Domestic Rhythms” – Mt. Laurel, NJ
Laura Migliorino – “Sprawl” – Minneapolis, MN
Damali Abrams – “Walking With Linda Montano” – Queens, NY
Lee Young Joo – “She Smiled at Me” – Frankfurt, Germany
Kate Balsley – “Autumn” – Brown Deer, WI
Holly Bynoe – “Boogieman” – Cliffside Park, NJ
Yaron Lapid – “Casual Mechanisms” – Israel

Visual Art:
Yousuke Sasaki – drawings
Erik Sanner – installation
Akinori Towma – paintings
Annalisa Iadicicco – installation
Chris Riggs and Betty T Kao – paintings
Sibyll Kalff – photo/prints
Blithe Riley and Mary Coble – video installation

BronxArtSpace: 305 East 140th Street, Bronx NY 10454.

6 Train to 138th St/3rd Ave (1 stop from 125th St express station) – note: there are two exits to the subway station, at 3rd Ave, and at Alexander Ave

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Market Estate Day 11: Countdown begins

Posted: March 3rd, 2010

Last night we realized that the concept for the final part of our video just wasn’t going to reach the potential we had hoped for.  It was an easy visual solution that didn’t challenge the ideas  we’ve been exploring throughout our stay.

After discussions late into the night we still could not come to a conclusion about how to resolve our piece.  After giving each other space to brainstorm separately this morning we came to a new idea and location. We are reinvigorated and reinvested in the piece, and are now moving full speed ahead to complete the work.

Final Shot Site:


Notes from our brainstorming session:

Ownership: To live in council housing is to be in a position between public and private, between individual and state ownership. One can live in a single flat for most of there life, but moving is always a possibility as flat eligibility changes with family status.  Neighborhood kids feel intense ownership over the estate (“these are our blocks!”) as it is a place where they go to do things they aren’t allowed to do elsewhere. It is their autonomous zone. This place has historically meant very different things to different people.

Access: Nearly anyone can walk in the front door of the building and into the hallway. In this way there is only a door that separates a living room from the street. Yet, the design of the building is such that nothing is seen from the street, so most of what happens here is private and hidden. Various strategies have been employed to deal with that level of privacy (ie. security cameras), but they have failed to deter vandalism and violence of the building.

History: The tower estates (Market Estate is one of them) were built as a mandate to clear the slums in London. Until the World War there had been immense housing shortages in the city, and nearly all housing expensive and supplied by private owners, therefore people lived in extremely close quarters in unsanitary living conditions. The towers were called “sidewalks in the sky” and were meant to elevate the conditions of working people. The intentions of the Market Estate design were utopian and benevolent, but failed miserably.

Time: We are here at the end of this Estates life. Nearly all its residents are gone, and those that remain are moving out daily and are happy to leave. We watch them leaving, respectfully stay out of their way, and see the objects pile up that they have left behind.

The Piles: The piles are everywhere, and they accumulate daily as residents move out and construction workers prep apartments for demolition. The piles are collections of personal items combined with structural parts of the building and flats.

Our Pile: Our pile is not about the people that lived here necessarily, or imposing meaning on what is left behind. Rather it is about the failure of this place to house its residents safely and accommodate the kind of community needed to sustain its survival. Our pile is about failed living environments, which include useless crappy objects that don’t work, fall out of fashion, or are forgotten.

We couldn’t shoot today do to time and work needed to prepare the shoot. This meant (of course) that this pile of ours had to be relocated yet again.  This time it was moved to the third story of the clocktower building. Thankfully this time we had an elevator for part of the journey.  This didn’t offer much solace however as we moved a 10 ft long water (and urine) logged carpet.

After our dirty and daunting pile move, we rushed to clean up for a quick interview with a local art magazine.  We then divided our labor, Blithe started editing footage and Mary cooked dinner.  We were happy with the direction of one of our edits. It’s nice to see our work here really beginning to take the form of several finished pieces.

There were also moments today that we talked about other pieces that we want to work on.  We’re not sure if time will permit, but it’s a great feeling to have so many ideas, and to still have the motivation to make work at this site… despite all its challenges.

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Market Estate: 10th Day: The Pile Moved Again

Posted: March 1st, 2010

Today we realized the second part of our three part shoot. We had the intention of taping  early this morning, but awoke to bright blue sunny skies. While normally this is happy occasion in London, it caused anxiety as we waited for the sun to retreat. In the meantime, we conducted a number of tests for Part 3, which we plan to shoot tomorrow (weather and general Estate life permitting). We are still unresolved about the location, as its difficult to decide the final resting place for our pile. So many options, so many potential meanings. We really want to get this last shot right, we know we are close…

We also had a brief but very nice lunch with Mary’s friend Jane from Denmark. We gave her a tour of the Estate and of the dynamics of the project. We all huddled around a cardboard box and ate fresh bread, fruit, goat cheese and veggies.

At around 2 pm the sun was no longer full force at our shoot spot, and we went for it. The hole that we’ve carved out of the fence prompts many curious visitors which makes it difficult to shoot steadily. Our footage is littered with unexpected faces peeping through our hole as Mary is heaving large heavy crap. Mary nearly lost it when a moving truck parked in our frame. Blithe guarded the shot as bunch of curious and rude men (exclaiming how good red heads are in bed… grrrr) wanted to know what was going on.

In the end we got our video shot, and its a good take. Depending on how Part 3 goes and the weather for the next few days, Blithe may or may not insist on another take with more consistent lighting.

All in all life on the Market Estate is getting a little weary. We are eager to finish our shooting, lugging our equipment and the infamous pile, and the return to a regular bathing schedule. No complaints though, art is being made.

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