Crossness Pumping Station Open Day

Thames Tides, Crossness Pumping Station
Sunday 23rd October was Open Day at the Crossness Pumping Station. The ‘Thames Tides’ installation, created by Susi Arnott and I, screened throughout the day alongside the mighty beam engines. You can still catch the show this Friday 28th Oct. Details and photos below.

Crossness Pumping Station. Friday 28th Oct. 2016

Where?
Crossness Pumping Station
The Old Works, Thames Water S.T.W. Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood, London SE2 9AQ

When?
Friday 28th Oct. Public guided tour from 10am-1pm. Booking is required for this – through Eventbrite on the Crossness website. Cost is £12 and includes tea and biscuits.
Parking available outside site on Bazalgette Way. Walkers/cyclists gain access via the pedestrian access pathway – at end of Bazalgette Way on left BEFORE thames water security gate.

Thames Tides at Crossness Pumping Station

Thames Tides, Crossness,Susi Arnott,Crispin Hughes

Thames Tides is screening alongside the beam engines at the ethereal Crossness Engine House. The huge building combines ponderous machinery and delicate filigree work to astonishing effect. Its function was to pump London’s sewage up above the level of the Thames and release it on an outgoing tide. What better place to screen Thames Tides?

Here are the details:

Crossness Pumping Station. Sunday 23rd Oct. and Friday 28th Oct. 2016 10.30am-4pm.

Where?
Crossness Pumping Station
The Old Works, Thames Water S.T.W. Bazalgette Way, Abbey Wood, London SE2 9AQ

When?
Sunday 23rd Oct.
is an Open day from 10.30- 5pm (last admission 4pm). There is no need to book, visitors can just turn up. Ticket prices are £6 for adults and £2 for children under 16.

Friday 28th Oct. Public guided tour from 10am-1pm. Booking is required for this – through Eventbrite on the Crossness website. Cost is £12 and includes tea and biscuits.
Parking available outside site on Bazalgette Way. Walkers/cyclists gain access via the pedestrian access pathway – at end of Bazalgette Way on left BEFORE thames water security gate.

And here are some more photos:

“To know hunger, work illegally, and be anonymous.” (Attributed to V I Lenin)

With thanks to all the photographers of the Displaces project

ghost-0313-edit

On previous ‘participatory photography’ projects, we’d give people good compact cameras, and some practical and conceptual training. Then they’d return to their families, communities or neighbourhoods, and take pictures.

The results could be revelatory; expressive as well as documentary, giving insights into lives and identities which might not be apparent to a professional photojournalist.

But working in the Calais ‘Jungle’ challenged this process.

I’ve been working in the camp with Dr Marie Godin, from the University of Oxford’s International Migration Institute, on the ‘Displaces’ photo project.  We wanted to take a critical look at the use of participatory photography there.

We met people living in temporary conditions, in a place which they do NOT own – culturally, legally, socially or visually. The camp represents everything they want to escape from. Handing cameras to refugees and demanding they document their lives there, risked producing images reinforcing their sense of abjection.

Anonymous

This is compounded by not being able to show most people’s faces.

Those who want to come to the UK need to stay invisible.
They must not make any trace of their existence in Calais and risk compromising their asylum claim, if and when they get here.

So they often choose to anonymise themselves.

But anonymity is also part of their oppression, and is continually imposed. Those who want to keep them out of the UK de-humanise them as a ‘swarm’. Those who want to help get them into the UK also anonymise them, albeit with best intention.

Both are dispiriting and undermining. Rubbing out someone’s face does not feel good. Asking them to do it themselves is even worse. They have to turn themselves into non-people. Collude in their own oppression. A photo project makes it all very literal and obvious.

Pixellated pictures appear to criminalise refugees and the right to seek asylum.

Many participants were even more aware than us, of this problem of identity and representation. They responded in various ways, perhaps the most interesting being aspiration.

Aspiration

Citizens

In particular, people took pictures of themselves not as refugees but as individual citizens. Participants portrayed themselves as human beings (teachers, engineers, mothers and fathers, cousins) with aspirations to have a better life.

An engineer from Darfur keeps his suit hanging in his shelter.

Some photographed themselves standing outside bourgeois houses. One group posed in front of Rodin’s ‘The Burghers of Calais’ (a sculpture about self-sacrifice in the face of arbitrary power).

These photos were often taken not for the project, but for their families back home, with no attempt to hide themselves. I find these bland touristic photos more interesting and telling than the images taken in the camp.
But how can they be shared more widely?

I’ve anonymised this set of ‘aspirational’ images using a different cultural, visual code; by ‘ghosting’ whole bodies, not just pixillating faces. I hope the results question the way settled citizens ignore or look right through refugees – without criminalising or victimising them.