Monthly Archives: February 2010

Whats the Opposite of Fashionista? or my remarks on London Fashion Week

On the first day of London Fashion Week, last Friday the 19th, I carefully dressed myself in black to avoid making any fashion decisions and got the bus to Somerset House. I volunteered as a human sign post for the Fashion Week in June, but this time was different. I was a participant.

On my way to the bus stop outside Brixton station i wasked through the decaying covered market, alive only from a few coffee shops, the best pizza place I’ve ever been to, and the shop that sells, from what I can identify, voodoo candles. I walked through the narrow 1920’s arcade, past the hairdressers containing one chair and a sink that looks over sized in the small shop, past a man watching fire eating on a small television overwhelmed by loud reggae music blaring out from the CD shop on the other side.

I catch the bus and get a seat, a rarity even in the middle of the day on Brixton road. A man behind me starts singing as I pass the council estates that somewhat define Lambeth and the elaborately dressed African women interspersed with women in burkas that somewhat define this part of South London.

I’m going to London Fashion Week to see what I’m told is the cutting edge of fashion for the Autumn/Winter of 2010, a year I’m barely familiar with and a subject that I’m even less so.

As the bus gets closer to Kennington, the streets empty and the houses get nicer. A man in front of me is taking his son to London for the first time and pointing at the London Eye as it peeks above the terraced houses. The first time the boy has ever seen it. He’s being told stories of London when his father was a boy.

The juxtaposition of everything I’ve seen so far, and the anticipation of London Fashion Week is an odd sensation. It’s the juxtaposition of the cutting edge of western fashion and non-western tradition. The juxtaposition of my surroundings in a decidedly poor section of London, on a bus, a decidedly unglamorous way of arriving to London Fashion Week, the difference between intentions of the other people around me, and the clothing people are wearing.

I’ve never really paid attention to what other people were wearing, unless of course it was particularly silly, but now I’m seeing all the details and wondering about the intentions not only of destination of the people around me, but the intentions in clothing. I’m trying to understand the difference, rather than the disparity of surroundings and clothes, of status symbols that I don’t understand.

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ReClAIMation in New York

Whenever I go home, I usually stay at my aunt’s and uncle’s house for a few days and as they live in Philadelphia, it’s not too far to get the train up to New York for the day. This time, I left a few webs around.

 

However, I felt very uncomfortable leaving webs. In contrast to London, where no one much cares what you do as long as it doesn’t directly affect them, the New York police took a very keen interest in my project. Whilst they didn’t say I couldn’t do it, I felt very uncomfortable. It was ironic that my freedom of speech felt more stiffled in America, where I am a citizen and where the freedom is so often defended, at least in speech.

 

 

In terms of more webs, there are definitely more to come, but I think I’ll stick to London for now. Perhaps, one day you can find me (with permission) in an exhibition. I’m working on it!

 

There is also a super secret, super exciting new project coming soon. Keep you posted.

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Walking the Roman Wall

This it the first installment of many in which I chronicle my attempt to walk the A-Z of London.

Yesterday, Alex and I walked the Roman Wall that surrounded Londinium, the Roman precursor to the modern city of London. I won’t go into the history of it here, as it’s easily wikipedia-ed, but suffice it to say, it’s some of the first level of London history and it endlessly fascinates me.

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We started off at the Tower of London (a 20 minute bus ride from where I live, I still can’t believe it!) The Tower of London is a very large reminder of the history of the city, although in its current form, it is still much younger than the Roman wall found nearby.

The Tower is (to me) surprisingly close to the Gherkin and on our walk to the next bit of wall we found ourselves among highrises and the ubiquitous suits found in the City. Considering our surroundings, it’s not terribly strange to find the next bit of wall as part of a hotel. I went inside an asked and we were directed towards the courtyard where I expected a grimy bit of wall as part of a water feature or something. Instead, we saw this….

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The next bit of wall was found just as tucked away– in the car park of a law firm. The receptionist of both the hotel and the firm must have recognized us for what we were and directed us towards the wall. This one was under plastic sheeting while the area that protects it gets refurbished. (Note the giant unidentified tube)

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Then, for a while, any visible signs of the wall, except for historical plaques, were missing having been demolished several hundred years ago.

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We kept walking to trace it’s path until we got to the Barbican, which was absolutely amazing not least for it’s inclusion of bits of Roman and Medieval wall in it’s vast landscaping.

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The last part of the wall we found was very near to St. Paul’s Cathedral and extended across a very busy road from a car park and the Museum of London to another unidentified office building full of unidentified people doing unidentified things that will undoubtedly ruin our economy/environment/lives.

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The rest of the walk traced the end of the roman wall where it turned to meet the River Thames. We didn’t go that far because we found a pub!

It was really, really interesting to trace the wall around Londinium. We walked it in just a few hours (including photo opportunities). The Roman city was very, very small indeed and it’s weird to imagine empty space surrounding it. That this was the only bit of city for miles and miles around and they needed a wall to protect themselves in a city that is now welcoming the 2012 Olympic games.

It was also an interesting and near impossible exercise to really put it into context. Bits of wall surrounded by highrises, hotels, suits, taxis, the Barbican. I cannot imagine it. I just can’t and that’s what is so interesting to me. It’s so far removed, but I will be thinking about it and trying to add context for a long time to come.

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Beginning!

As part of Alex and I’s New Year List, I decided to do (read: drag him into ) a project that I will chronicle on this very blog. I mean where else would I?

Today I walked from Angel to Oxford Circus. You should be able to see it on this Google map.

I didn’t have my camera, but next time I will. We (I) plan on walking the circumference of the London wall one sunny day towards spring.

AND then- I want to walk the A-Z!

We’re starting with the Square Mile or the City. It’s where a ton of Roman stuff.Ambitious- check! Crazy- check! Fun project to take pictures and learn about London for a history geek- CHECK CHECK CHECK

Keep you posted!

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