Language and the Production of Space

Universidad de Sevilla
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Conference Proceeding
OBSOLESCENCE and RENOVATION – 20th Century Housing in the New Millennium, 2016
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This paper is a critical investigation into the relationship between language and spatial production within the context of post war social housing in the UK. Adopting an obsolete council estate in north London as an exemplar of British social housing of this period, this paper provides a critical reflection on a collaborative arts project titled 'The Market Estate Project' produced in 2010, just prior to the estates demolition. Coordinated by artists collaborative Tall Tales, backed by the Southern Housing Association and financed by the British Arts Council, 'The Market Estate Project' called for site specific artworks that celebrated ‘a colorful and rich last memory of the estate’, with an emphasis on collaboration and participation with residents and the local community. Combining theoretical research and site specific intervention, this paper explores the notion of ‘effective historical analysis’, in which the singularities pertaining to the transformation of language of social housing reveals parallels between the forces and networks which govern its transformations. The imagery presented within the paper is the documentation of practice led research comprising of two large-scale site specific interventions. The first project titled ‘Embodied Text’ (2010) was installed in the corridor of the Market Estate and explores the relationship between language, the body and the city. The second project titled ‘Rise and Fall’ (2010), is an investigation into the relationship between social and architectural space and involves the reproduction of a council estate flat reconfigured within a white cube gallery. Through an investigation of the complex networks, multiple logics and rich contradictions inherent in the field of social housing, this research suggests that language produces space and conversely space produces language echoing Henri Lefebvre’s proposition ‘that space and the political organization of space, expresses social relationships but also react back upon them.’
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