The drawing of
a chalked outline
Luton’s ‘Cultural Quarter’
Saturday 7th July 2018
starting at 11.00 am
The George II pub,
finishing at the same point later on.
In the event of rain, a later date will be announced.
STATEMENT BY THE ARTIST:
“I want to take a flat map and give it upward dimension.
I use a line, I reinforce a border line.
A line has no width, and yet I walk along it, neither on one side or the other.
Meaning I am blameless for the travesty of the initial separation.
I fall into neither cultural or non-cultural camps.
A line has no width, - my project defies existence.
Therefore, it is a silent and invisible statement.
How can I be seen as divisive?
I encourage union.
I only advise toward two camps; I bring them to the attention of those who had no say in their creation.
The No Culture, and the Yes Culture; divisions that have been established by others.
(I am only using their map.)
Which is which then?
The ‘Not’ and the ‘What’.
I put myself on the line, (and exempt myself too).
I favour neither what is to the left of me, nor what is to the right.
I condemn both sides to themselves, but without offering myself as a scapegoat. Nor do I offer a solution, other than the glare of publicity.
What my project will reveal is that there are greater lands, (which are labelled as culture-less), than there are that carry the can in the name of culture.
I live in a town that was walled (Berlin).
My mother is from Cyprus, and I see what the wall through Nicosia means to her.
I visited friends in Luton and saw the town at night.
I walked the perimeter of the old centre in order to get across town.
There was no ‘across’. The walled shopping centre in Luton denies the concept of ‘across’.
And now I hear they have a set location for the town’s culture in Luton.
It is a ‘cultural quarter’, not natural, like a quarter where artists and cultural enablers might live naturally, ie. the cheap quarter.
But no, this is the art quarter with none of the perks of cheap suitability to those creatively taking risks with their careers. They can’t do that here, they have to be ‘a bit out’.
Presumably they have to be out in an environment which is NOT the ‘cultural quarter’.
So the ‘cultural quarter’ gets the Real Estate wealth, without ever having the build-up of cheap creative living.
It cuts to the chase.
I feel sad that this is so, as it signifies not even the ‘fun’ end of the process. Instead it cuts straight to the unaffordable destination where the artists are still expected to turn up and delight.
They might not want to.
Why should they?
They are out of the area.
Maybe they pop in to feed it every now and again?
On the bus?
Do you know Brecht’s play “The Caucasian Chalk Line”?”
As the project is ear-marked for the ‘cultural quarter’ in Luton, I have requested the use of only natural chalks recovered from the local Luton area.
This will exempt the project workers from prosecution via any graffiti laws while they are marking the boundary. (My project assistants Simon and Stephen.)
The chalk is naturally present beneath the pavement, therefore its repositioning on the surface on top of the pavement still connects it with said pavement, therefore no change is aktioned.
Consequently no crime is aktioned either.”
Born in 1944, Anushka Marek is a conceptual artist who has been practicing across the globe over the past 56 years. She was born in Pivka, Slovenia, but has lived in many places, and left a trace across them all.
Her work is often temporal, itinerant, and hidden in plain sight. Her practice focuses on psycho-geography: of non-places and borders.
The concept of "the border" has fascinated her - that a line could signify such political, social and economic change. This has led to the line becoming a signature of sorts in some of her ‘linear works’, or "aktions" as she refers to them.
She eschews the traditional channels of the art establishment, preferring instead to walk its borders: as the outsider looking in.
Marek has chosen the artists Stephen Whiting and Simon Cleary to carry out some of her "aktions" in the town of Luton. They met at a performance the Stephen's group, The Knockouts, held in a Hackney basement in Summer 2017.
She said she enjoyed the "visceral psychedelic claustrophobia" of the event.
When Stephen told her about Luton, with its Arndale Centre perimeter wall, she was very keen to orchestrate a piece of work there. She asked if they could help her with this.
She was particularly astounded by the self-labelling of a "cultural quarter" in Luton, and had a powerful idea for a piece of linear work in the town. She explained that would like to use natural materials. She told the duo that she would be in contact.
Stephen and Simon awaited instructions.
These did not come for another eight months after their meeting, so they forgot all about it. But when a typewritten set of index cards were hand-delivered, they knew they had their orders.
The first order was to mine 4 kg of chalk, local to the area...
Merchandise in the form of hand-drawn lines by the artist Anushka Marek, on black paper (various sizes), and using the actual local chalk featured in the project, will be available via the project assistants and this site (soon).
“Just because you have the ‘Monna (sic) Lisa’ in your ‘cultural quarter’, doesn’t make you The Louvre.”
- A. Marek
AN EMAIL FROM ANUSHKA:
(Translated from Slovenian)
I'm sorry I was not in touch for so long. Time is just coming back, you know. Was it summer that we met? I think my ears are still whispering from your music! I liked it! So many layers and your funny little keyboard. These notes as secret codes.
I did not forget what you told me about Luton and your "cultural quarter" I thought this was the most difficult idea I ever heard - the idea that culture is in one zone? What's out there then? Who is allowed in this zone? Is there a checkpoint? Are my documents okay? If he went in, could he go out? With this I laughed when a friend turned around and asked me if I wanted to work in the Šiškovka Cultural District! Šiška is in Ljubljana and it was a very fragmented area, sometimes I lived in squats where we take over old buildings that nobody uses and makes them what can ... But now it was obvious where culture lived! I'm gone, the culture has moved!
She asked me if I wanted to make an akt in Cankarjev dom. Yes - lower the brick through this window if it breaks! Is this a vandalism, if it does not break, Stephen? Is it art, if it does? And how will the authority be designed by herds?
But I'm leaving the path - your city is obviously the emptiness of art, until the power is merged and blessed with the fruit of culture. I want to work with you in an act in Luton. I do not know if you know my work - there are few records about him, and I try to avoid the Internet - when I enter only at the internet cafe. I wonder how they stay when I see people on the internet on their phones. It's like a zombie apocalypse here, Stephen - how's it?
I would like to write to you with the idea of "aktion" - can you send me your address, please? I often work remotely, in places around the world. I call my co-workers "aktors", because they are forces that realize ideas. Then I can not be found.
Stephen, are you inside or outside the area of culture? But me? Where do we make a line? Soon I'll let you down the line.
BY THE PROJECT ASSISTANTS:
“I met the artist Anushka Marek after a concert I played in London. We talked about our home towns. Anna lives in Hamburg, a town I visited in 2017.
Anna’s mother (who was Cypriot) took her to Nicosia on many occasions, where she was influenced by the segregation there.
As a former resident of Berlin, she has seen the split in the city as a powerful and driving force.
When I told her about Luton, with its Arndale Centre perimeter wall, she was very keen to orchestrate a piece of work in the town. I said I would be happy to help.
She was particularly astounded by the self-labelling of a "cultural quarter" in Luton, and had a powerful idea for a piece of ‘linear work’ in the town.
She said she would like to use local, natural materials.
Upon her instruction myself and Simon Cleary have laid our hands on 4 kg of chalk that is specific to central Luton. (It was retrieved from a building site on the lower section of Hitchin Road).
Anushka is a current resident of the St. Pauli district in Hamburg.
Unfortunately her age means travelling is difficult.”
- Stephen Whiting
Lines have negligible depth. Just like this project.
It’s up to YOU to bring the feeling.
How did you feel when your job was on the line, then you found yourself standing in a line, then signing on the line?
Remember at school when you were given lines?
Then that time snorting lines?
Now look at the lines that CREEP from your eyes.
Is your life linear? ------------------------
Look at your life line. There it is crumpled across your palm, hand open and empty, begging to be filled.
Have you followed this line from A - B? Or did you wander down dark pathways?
One toke over the line, sweet Jesus…
Do you toe the line? / Or live life on the line?
Why does that negligible difference in your position represent a 180° shift in outlook?
Draw a line in the sand, now.
Let’s get to the bottom line:
You’re going to have to fall into line, follow us now!
Don’t end up duped and caught, hook line and sinker.
I’ll lay it on the line: we have a mission for you!
The line of least resistance is not for us – no! We need to resist, to draw up the front line in this battle.
You just need to decide – whose side are you on?
Are you going to take the lion’s share and line your pockets?
Or are you next in line to the throne?
Who knows what wilderness awaits you on this side – where all around the horizon is an ever receding line between Earth and sky.
You may have to read between the lines, here.
They stood strong on the picket line when management took a hard line and were strung out along the thin blue line.
We tread a fine line between crude and sublime, and are never bothered by leaves on the line.
So here’s the three-line whip – with, without or within?
This side, that side, or the third side – the inside.
Please hold the line… please hold the line…. Please hold the line…”
- Simon Cleary