London February 2012 Selected site Hacknet area. 8 Hours.
Labour Photographers Rachel Sansom, Piotr Jozwiak Minder/photographer Alfie Jouanneau.
Walking in the Way is invited to participate in Labour, the touring all women show curated by Helena Walsh, Chrissie Cadman and Amanda Coogan. www.amandacoogan.com/writing-on-the-work
Hackney is snow clad and very cold. Three days of walking researching and being in the area of Hackney, Clapton and Hackney Wick. We transform ourselves in the hotel room with the photographers adjusting to the gender change with some degree of incredulity.
The bus ride to Mabley Park, our first stop, goes without remark as it is on public transport that one is scrutinized, viewed and 'read'. This is difficult to hold the feeling of appearing male.
Controversy is in the English press on the treatment of long term residents who have been shifted out to make way for the Olympic Village dwellers. We look like council workers on official business We shuffle in the snow and create five rings intertwined in the snow, the Olympic symbol, mark making and giving a signal of our later intervention at the Hackney Town Hall. The Wayside Centre, a second hand charity shop, offers us introductions to locals and the opportunity for conversations and exchanges around what it is to be male in the area. We are struck by the energy and commitment at creating a community among a diversity of peoples. The evening becomes dark we dine in the Working Men's Cafe half way through this eight hour performance. Our french photographer offers his experiences of maleness. Our images are relayed back to ]performance s p a c e[ and projected on the wall as the other artists work through the day.
We are undisturbed and are seen as officials as we chalk out the helpline within our large Olympic chalked circles on the plaza of Hackney Town Hall..Even though all drawing or street art is now banned in London. Later as we join the other artists in the Gallery space we are misread by artists, organisers and audience, as official art critics who have come to view the show. For the last two hours we interact with some of the performing artists following their rhythm and actions as they gradually realise that we are part of the same Labour Show. This recognition comes slowly even when people know of the role change, and have seen previous images and have our projected images on the wall throughout our 8 hour day performance.