Hackney WickEd 2016, Part 3: The Burning Of Homogenization
Back in the day when we were lawless, Hackney Wicked was known for it’s closing ceremony where something or other would be burnt as an offering to the Wick gods. Sadly with the vast vacant spaces being taken up by our bars and daytime tourists, plus factoring in stringent Health & Safety regulations this tradition had been long gone forgotten, until this year that is!
Marie Brenneis (HW based Artist and my neighbor) and I took it upon ourselves to revive this tradition and it was only fitting to base it on homogenization and the “death of Hackney Wick as we know it”.
The idea was to create a procession, like a grand funeral taking place within Hackney Wick. Marie and I came up with some concepts and a model of todays typical grey brick apartment block, something that we all see currently popping up all over east London. The aim was to recreate some sort of Cray inspired funeral cortège where our pull bearers would carry this effigy like a coffin.
The cortège included local musicians & legends (Fear Of Fluffing) and noise makers, artists and Save Hackney Wick, who provided the banners and of course our placards.
The aim was to gather the locals on the Sunday to let go of what has been of our beloved area and in to bring their own symbol of homogenization and mundane to burn in our coffin. By burning something, we felt that some kind of healing/ therapy could take place. A visceral catharsis within the action of doing, and by being surrounded by a community of others who feels the same way as them, can empower individuals. Currently there is a lot of anger within the hackney wick community with the huge changes of Gentrification taking place in the immediate environment, it is changing very quickly, the locals feel that the culture diversity of this area is slowly disappearing.
Fortunately, the procession all went to plan after much negotiations and meticulous planning with fire marshals and traffic control.
However, whilst back in the day, making fires in the middle of various yards was a regular occurrence, we were not allowed to set fire to our effigy but a compromise was met in terms of a small contained barrel where we managed to burn some planning booklets, a HW mouse, Anna Malony’s good purple bra and some plaques….I also offered some genuine HW rubble from the newly demolished building from behind Mr. Bagel. FYI, I saved the ashes of what we burnt…to be continued!
I would like to say a special thank you to Edwin who continuously helped me with the Lord Napier Pub and worked his socks of to decorate our coffin in his truly witty style.
Also a special thank you to Olivier, who constructed the coffin ingeniously and lightly…