In February 2010 Coble/Riley Projects participated in a residency at the Market Estate, a project transforming 100 empty flats in a 1960s London housing project into an art production site and exhibition arena, right before its slated demolition. During our time at Market Estate we lived and worked on the premises, which resulted in the production of two performance-based video pieces, Corridor and Pile. At the end of our stay,Â we turned the flat we were living in into an exhibition space and showed our two videos as works-in-progress. Below is the statement we wrote for the exhibition.
Market Estate Residency Statement
We came to London live on the Market Estate and work site-specifically.Â In our collaboration, we make video installations that are framed around a performative actions. We approach the sites we work in as stages for actions that are informed by the research we conduct, interactions with people we meet, the physical properties of the location.
When we arrived at Market Estate, we were immediately surprised by how my residents were still living on the estate. This was ethically challenging for us. While we were given free reign to work anywhere on the estate,Â this informed our decision to work outside in the common areas as opposed to inside the flats. Living on the estate made us conscious of the interior flats as private spaces, and we found ourselves more interested in the construction of the building itself, and what was left behind as people moved out. We focused on how the building’s architecture both exposed and hid the residents from the outside world. We were interested in the mythology of the estate, and how it transformed over time. We wanted to know how a building constructed with such utopic and idealistic visions could fail so miserably.
During our time on the estate we made two video pieces, Corridor and Pile.
approx. 4 min (single channel or loop)
On our first day at the Market Estate we set up an outdoor tea station and sat down with residents and neighbors to chat about what it was like to live here. With the exception of the local teenagers, most people seemed excited to leave and that the building was being torn down. Many neighbors talked about being scared walking by the building, that they would walk fast or cross the street. One resident said that it was simply just not safe here. We were interested in this idea of the estate as producing a condition of fear, and that fear often being invisible or generated from something that may or may not happen. While we don’t deny that violence was prevalent, we are also aware of the role stigma played in contributing to the living conditions on the estate. This piece explores the dynamic between what is invisible and tangible fear.
three channel looping installation (30 minute per cycle)
During our time here we have quietly witnessed the last remaining residents move out of the building. With each move, new piles accumulate in the hallways of the things that have been left behind. Initially we looked at the piles for some clue into the lives of the residents, but quickly realized that discarded items tell very little about the lives and history of the place.
We came to look at the piles as artifacts of this soon to be demolished estate that failed to successfully house its residents safely and securely. These are records of failure. The people we have talked to have many different ideas for why this place failedâ€” the stigma, its poor upkeep, the residents, the building design. Regardless of the reasons, the fact remains that despite the high expectations for this place when it was built, it did fail. Our piece is a meditation on this failure in this odd moment in the buildings history.