Another day, another Urbania update from Harold.

Four of us Helen, Harun, Oko and me meet in the swedish sauna style board room at the Rochelle. It my last meeting of the year - i heading to the big apple this week, we've been given the focus of a deadline by Michael, who wants to what the hll were gonna do. Good question! With that in mind, we discussed the 2 main areas of the project that need to resolved, creating a physical/architectural environment for us to inhabit and devising a manifesto or structure for the overall project. No mean task then.

In note form here are some of our musings.

With regard to social/architectural environments we talked about

Cloisters, cells inhabited by Monks and Nuns. Smaller spaces surrounding a open central space.

JG Ballard, gated communities, suburbia. Looking and isolated communities sealing themselves off, could we lock ourselves away? Creating physical structure like a door or employing guards to regulate access to our space. Helen uses the great phrase "Future Fugitives".

As a reference i recommend Todd Haynes great film SAFE starring Julianne Moore a LA housewife who gradully becomes allergic to everything, eventually having to find an isolated retreat to heel herself. This raised the idea of
Healing retreats
Hermits, Monks/Nuns and specific religous orders

Language
we talked about the power of language to bind a group. One suggestion was to create. a group language or specific words we all use. This lead to discussion about Hybrid Models. Creating a structure that features elementsof all the group and perhaps blending them together.

Oko who's working with Abake brought in some info on DROP CITY (see the link below)
Drop city was an artists community set up Colorado, USA in 1965, its founders being particularly inspired by Buckminster Fuller.

To sum up we've reached a critical point in the project, where we have to make choices and decisions in order to fully realize the project. So following the meeting on the 13th December we should have a better sense of what Urbania is.

Harold x

Links:
Safe, by Todd Haynes
Drop City
More Drop City info

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Low Kyle

Marcus Coates, Michael Smythe and I went to see the Jeremy Kyle show in Manchester. We waited in the heavily smoking queue, a little nervous of what was ahead, scanning the crowd didn’t really help, they were a frightening crew, stringy yoofs, half toothed, bloated sportswear wrecks, noses pasted to left and right, girls of indiscernible age dressed as hardcore hookers, burger tops, basically people who looked like they were thinking about going on the show sooner or later.
The audience were groomed from the off, firstly by the girls who turned out to be the Greek chorus, a Geordie Ophelia and an Essex Iseult both with super expressive faces, like the mask from Scream the film. Ophelia informed us that the contestants were real people, that we shouldn’t laugh at them. Then she warmed us up with the grizzly contents that were in store, each further personal horror scenario was greeted with an ever increasing roar of enthusiasm, culminating with the announcement that we would have the results of 2 lie detector tests greeted by a roar like a collapsing iceberg.
From the moment we were seated – inside a hardboard set on the shabbiest of seating, all gaffa tape and stains - the crew started to work the audience, a number of standard jokes all designed to isolate the individual and to ridicule anyone that stood out – someone that didn’t join in with the practice clapping was forced to stand up and explain themselves. A ginger punk was repeatedly ridiculed in a series of standard ginger jokes. Jeremy continued the technique, slick and charmingly cruel. So I clapped furiously when told, although not wanting to, from fear of being picked out to be picked on. On either side of the stage stood the girls with the expressive faces, they led us in clapping, moaning with sympathy, jeering, often at what seemed exactly the wrong moments, their elastic faces pulling ghastly parodies of empathy, hate and pathos, they switched constantly from being apparently utterly absorbed, to chatting and giggling with colleagues. This is our fractured society represented, our internet age culture, connected to everything and nothing, the supremely slick and functional interacting with the dysfunctional disconnected, generating a tidal wave of meaning.

The objects/subjects of the show were ushered on, barked at by Jeremy, the whole thing was so smooth, there were no retakes, it seemed like a totally scripted and complex play in which we were all had a vital role. Actually as a whole it was brilliant as a piece of theatre, the jumping in and out of character, reality and TV, performing for the audience, performing for the cameras and performing with the subjects. The crew played roles throughout. The unnecessarily vast security bouncers - each with a crevice like crease in the back of their shaved heads - stepped up at vital moments to intensify the potential for a violent explosion. As Jeremy broke off for commercial breaks other crew stood in front of the subjects to shield them from the stares of the audience. In reality the subjects said very little, Jeremy held all the cards and with the crew he worked the whole show. This was so much the best live thing I have been to (better than Prince, Il Tempo Del Postino, Egremont Crab Fair – see previous blogs), massively thought provoking, complex and simple, easily assimilated and understood, and darkly underpinned by the reality of the subject’s problems and everyone’s empathy, fascination and revulsion for them.

If Agrifashionista could be half as complex, half as revealing, half as brilliant I would be wholly delighted. If you want to go we have 3 tickets for 5th December.

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Jeremy Kyle of lochalsh

Marcus Coates, Michael Smythe and I went to see the Jeremy Kyle show in Manchester. We waited in the heavily smoking queue, a little nervous of what was ahead, scanning the crowd didn’t really help, they were a frightening crew, stringy yoofs, half toothed, bloated sportswear wrecks, noses pasted to left and right, girls of indiscernible age dressed as hardcore hookers, burger tops, basically people who looked like they were thinking about going on the show sooner or later.
The audience were groomed from the off, firstly by the girls who turned out to be the Greek chorus, a Geordie Ophelia and an Essex Iseult both with super expressive faces, like the mask from Scream the film. Ophelia informed us that the contestants were real people, that we shouldn’t laugh at them. Then she warmed us up with the grizzly contents that were in store, each further personal horror scenario was greeted with an ever increasing roar of enthusiasm, culminating with the announcement that we would have the results of 2 lie detector tests greeted by a roar like a collapsing iceberg.
From the moment we were seated – inside a hardboard set on the shabbiest of seating, all gaffa tape and stains - the crew started to work the audience, a number of standard jokes all designed to isolate the individual and to ridicule anyone that stood out – someone that didn’t join in with the practice clapping was forced to stand up and explain themselves. A ginger punk was repeatedly ridiculed in a series of standard ginger jokes. Jeremy continued the technique, slick and charmingly cruel. So I clapped furiously when told, although not wanting to, from fear of being picked out to be picked on. On either side of the stage stood the girls with the expressive faces, they led us in clapping, moaning with sympathy, jeering, often at what seemed exactly the wrong moments, their elastic faces pulling ghastly parodies of empathy, hate and pathos, they switched constantly from being apparently utterly absorbed, to chatting and giggling with colleagues. This is our fractured society represented, our internet age culture, connected to everything and nothing, the supremely slick and functional interacting with the dysfunctional disconnected, generating a tidal wave of meaning.

The objects/subjects of the show were ushered on, barked at by Jeremy, the whole thing was so smooth, there were no retakes, it seemed like a totally scripted and complex play in which we were all had a vital role. Actually as a whole it was brilliant as a piece of theatre, the jumping in and out of character, reality and TV, performing for the audience, performing for the cameras and performing with the subjects. The crew played roles throughout. The unnecessarily vast security bouncers - each with a crevice like crease in the back of their shaved heads - stepped up at vital moments to intensify the potential for a violent explosion. As Jeremy broke off for commercial breaks other crew stood in front of the subjects to shield them from the stares of the audience. In reality the subjects said very little, Jeremy held all the cards and with the crew he worked the whole show. This was so much the best live thing I have been to (better than Prince, Il Tempo Del Postino, Egremont Crab Fair – see previous blogs), massively thought provoking, complex and simple, easily assimilated and understood, and darkly underpinned by the reality of the subject’s problems and everyone’s empathy, fascination and revulsion for them.

If Agrifashionista could be half as complex, half as revealing, half as brilliant I would be wholly delighted. If you want to go we have 3 tickets for 5th December.

To view Jen Liu's current show at Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, LA click here

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This is Jen Liu, and I have a gripe! My username and password info doesn't work, I can't get in, stuck on the outside of a club where it's got my name plastered over the door!

But I suppose here is as good as any to leave my first entry: hello agri blog, lonely child awaiting rays of content to warm your cheeks!

And it is like a child, isn't it? I sent out an email in mid-January, telling all to expect great things, blogwise, during my shooting trip in London, expectations of others to rouse me to action. But no, there was nothing, o. twist where is your father now, little orphan annie, you've got the real slapabout. Your mother? Why, she's out yelling at actors in a country club. Well now, here she is finally, contrite, offering you a bit of her stale bread. But what about Daddy Warbucks?

But waitaminute! Why didn't I ever realize that Daddy Warbucks is DADDY WAR-BUCKS? Does everyone know this or is this another case of clueless Jen taking 2 years to realize Rushdie's elowen-deeowen spelled L-O-N-D-O-N? (it's true, very embarrassing). Anyway, could Annie and Daddy's relationship be read as a secret critique of the money-war machine, she does keep on running away, after all. And then, she always comes back.......

Little Orphan Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,

An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you

Ef you

Don't

Watch

Out!

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Hi Everyone

It's Harold posting some notes up from fridays Ubania meeting at the Rochelle. Firstly, we managed it get 6 out of the 7 Urbanians at this meeting, which was great. The background to the meeting was the good news (for us anyway) that the dates for the Agri- project had been postponed till March.

So on friday night we met up at the space in Club Row that might becuase the site of our residency during the broadcast week. In the previous meeting we'd dicussed the idea of building a modular structure that would act as a base for the collective. Much of the meeting was spent discussing how this might be realized in that space.

Maki made some suggestions about building a structure that took advantage of the height of the room but also linked through the windows and doors the outside space, creating an outside platform or space that engaged with local audience of Arnold circus. Essentially its sounds like something that could be architectually playful, taking advantage of upstairs and outside spaces.

Harun talked about the idea of creating communal behavourial traits, through language and movement, but emblems like badges.

Other points of reference

*Creating elongated narratives/ durational performances.

*Specifying the audience, creating specific streams of communiaction for that audience, ie net geeks

*Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer, who made several expeditions, with various multi national crews. The Kon-Tiki being the most famous.
(check out the link below)

*Islands as a site and context for living and working, can be both paradise and hell. We talked a London's islands and the possibility of visiting some.

*Social housing projects, architecture and social planning. We've agreed to have day out for the group in January, which will included a visit to Thamesmead, the southeast London housing project made famous in A Clockwork Orange.
(see the Link for more info)

* Exploring the idea of time saving or sharing. one suggestion was to pre-record our 7 day residency at double or triple speed and then broadcast over the 7 day period in order to gain time.

* Create decoys and twins to allow more time to do what we really wanted to do.

There was of course more, but i think those were the main points. At a post meeting session at thee The George pub in Dalston. Maki, Patrick and I discussed the idea of setting ourselves some homework for the next meeting.

Our suggestion to the group is to bring in a visual realisation, drawing, map, photo of what we indiviually imagine the Urbania base in Club Row to look like. This will allow us to reach some firm discisions at the next meeting.

We also talked about group manifestos and maybe bringing in examples of those.

Lastly just remind Maki, you also mentioned a woman you know called Leila, who has a shop just off Arnold circus. You thought she might be a good person to meet.

Your comments and feedback are welcome, cheers.
Harold x

Links:
Thor Heyerdahl
Thamesmead

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