Weapons of Mass Construction: The
Overground Wombles , Brian’s Westminster U.N. Heart
Gallery and Drummachine - Notes
The title Weapons of Mass Construction, refers to the context
for this work: the recent war in Iraq, where weapons of mass
destruction (aka WMD) were cited as the main legitimation
for launching a pre-emptive strike on Iraq.
The weapons documented here are of a different kind: though
they are made of cheap and disposable materials they are in
fact proving indestructible and sophisticated.
These are examples of the latest intelligent weaponry made
under advanced capitalism - fueled by the dreams, hopes and
visions of a handful of people who know that another world
Brian’s Westminster U.N. Heart Gallery
(4 pieces of construction fence, black out material, 2 coca-cola
crates, white board, plinth, slide projector, 70 slides, 10
blanks, paint, broom handles, 2 photographs)
This is an improvised projection room made up of 4 construction
fences and various materials I found in the gallery store
incl. black out material, string, tape, pieces of board and
paint. My method of making the piece was inspired by the ingenious
construction methods often found on the 'street' - the kind
of DIY culture which I have previously explored in the 'Protest
Inside the space the viewer was presented with a “Do
It Yourself Slide show”, and invited to look through
70 slides documenting Brian Haw's protest outside the Houses
of Parliament in London. (The slides were projected onto a
board perched on two upturned coca-cola crates, on loan from
Brian Haw's protest is well known in Britain, as he has been
on the pavement since 2001. Most tourists to London will inevitably
come across Brian because of his location opposite the Houses
of Parliament and most Londoners are likely to have passed
by atleast once in the four years that he has been there!
Furthermore occasional articles in the press and on TV will
have made many people in Britain aware of his protest.
I met Brian on his pavement soon after I moved to London
and was very pleased to see him. I spotted the site from the
top of a double decker bus, and was intrigued so I got off
and took a look. I remember talking to him about his protest
and asking him about the origins of the placards. I was struck
by the way the objects were so carefully arranged and was
interested in the diversity of voices that were present. Brian
explained to me that the banners and placards came from different
people, as well as himself, and how that was important to
him, he said that this was like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
The title of the piece is taken from one of Brian's signs
(also depicted in one of the slides) which reflects this aspect
- a small sign which declares the pavement to be 'Brian's
Westminster UN Heart Gallery'. I chose this title as I was
bringing the protest into a gallery space. The objects in
the slides express views against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
highlight the effects of UN sanctions and depleted uranium,
and call for peace and democracy in general.
The title, and the selected slides, reflect the fact that
although there are many contributers, this is basically a
one-man protest, and the pavement has been transformed into
one man's mediation space.
I am interested in this situation as an example of the possibility
of resistance. Brian has taken up long-term residence on the
pavement directly opposite the Houses of Parliament, to express
his disapproval to those in power. Unlike the politics inside
the Houses of Parliament, this man's politics are clear, the
information projected here is openly subjective. Motivated
by one man’s anger and love it has integrity and speaks
to the minda and hearts of passers-by.
For more info on Brian Haw visit his official web
Democracy Begins At Home
Two photographs hang outside the projection space –
a portrait of Brian on his pavement, and a photo which shows
the site from the back view with a large banner, which states
'Democracy Begins at Home'. These are documentary photos.
I made the banner as a contribution to Brian's collection
of messages and slogans. I chose this slogan because like
so many people I felt this war was entered into without the
consent of the people: the UK government spoke of delivering
democracy to Iraq, whilst ignoring the widespread opposition
it faced to its proposals at home. The slogan gains further
meaning as the UK government has been attempting to remove
Brian on several occasion, and is currently drafting legislation
especially for this purpose.
The Overground Wombles
2 Womble costumes, stuffed
Well-known to a British audience the Wombles are bear-like
creatures, which were invented by Elisabeth Beresford in 1968.
They live underground on Wimbledom common and spend their
days cleaning up the rubbish left by humans on the common.
They are ingenious recyclers. Here, they stand outside the
projection space, like guards.
A photocopied handout about the Wombles, and was available
to visitors of the exhibition.
I first made these womble costumes as part of Do Others
Before They Do You, where they were worn by participants
of a 'protest march-performance,' and exhibited alongside
a variety of objects addressing a variety of concerns. All
the objects that I made then were imitations of objects I
found in media images of protest. In this context I have chosen
to place them alongside images of real objects, and they assume
a more symbolic role in this context - I consider them to
be like fictional representatives of the power of subversion.
bicycle, customised trailer, oil drums
This piece was inspired by a bicycle, which I saw and photographed
at a demonstration in Italy in 2002. A trailer equipped with
containers of various sizes was attached to a bicycle –
to create a simple drum machine, specially designed for use
at a demonstration. My version is not an exact copy, though
it deliberately references the original object. The source
photograph was exhibited alongside the other photos on the
outside of the slide show space.
In this piece (unlike the other works on show) no cultural
references are made, and no specific messages are attached,
though shown beside the piece Brian’s Westminster U.N.
Heart Gallery, the oil drums gain a significance as references
to the war in Iraq. A formal connection is made by the orange
plastic used to decorate both pieces.
In the exhibition, the drummachine is available for use by
the audience. It is designed as a collaborative noise-making
tool - one person can cycle whilst another stands on a platform