Monday, 20 June 2016


 The Life Beneath Our Feet: Trump, Don DeLillo, and the Nihilistic Impulse Real Life Rock Top 10: 

10 JUNE 16 2016

 Ford, born in West Yorkshire in 1973, who from 2005 to 2009 published the zine Savage Messiah, a street walking excavation of the ruins of present-day London—it was collected in 2011 by Verso—has never accepted stable time. The past is always present, but it isn’t history: it’s a promise just over the horizon, or a hand in a horror movie pulling you down. In this 36-minute soundwork, she’s traversing Birmingham, looking for “the psychic contours of a city,” speaking quietly into a tape recorder, traffic humming around her, sometimes the noise of crowds or small groups of people, pop songs occasionally mixed in, and you are following the trail of a woman who seems to remember 1974 as if she were her own aunt, the one the rest of the family never talked about, so that when she says 2016 it barely feels real. “You keep finding the embers,” she says, with previous allusions to IRA bombings and urban riots as a rolling backdrop: “Places you must have seen from car windows 23 years ago.” 
There is the building that once housed the Birmingham Press Club: “They used to have the upstairs, a litany of names, they’ve all been here, Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher, Enoch Powell, Barbara Cartland, Earl Spencer, Cliff Richard—it’s all too much,” she says of the specter of bland power, of seeing herself on the same stairs, in their footsteps. “This is where it was all concocted”—a conspiracy of government officials, pop stars, romance novelists—“in those rooms upstairs.” 
She looks at graffiti on a pub: “A refusal to accept what England has become, they hover above the walls as a negative ambiance,” a gateway “into those undercurrents of excess, violence, destruction for its own sake.  You’ve tuned into the undercurrent that speaks of refusal, a hatred of doing the right thing.” It’s a civil war of the dead, people turning into specters as she passes them, as she does to them. At the very end you hear Rod Stewart, with “You Wear It Well,” from 1972, the sound rickety and distant, as if you’re listening not to a record but to the woman you’ve been listening to remembering what it was to hear him sing it at a show she attended before she was born, and it’s never sounded more true.

Friday, 17 June 2016

HERMES CHTHONIUS : audio work for Birmingham

Audio work generated from dérives in Birmingham, UK, 2016-- 

Launched today as part of solo project, Chthonic Reverb at Grand Union, Birmingham



17 June – 5 August 2016
Opening Friday 17 June

Grand Union is delighted to present a solo exhibition of new work by Laura Oldfield Ford, Chthonic Reverb.
Ford spent six weeks in residence in 2015 investigating Digbeth, the area where the Grand Union gallery space is situated. Having lived in Birmingham in early 1990s, she is reconnecting with the city through a series of ‘dérives’. These extensive walks and conversations unlock memories and narratives embedded in the architecture.
For her show at Grand Union, Ford will transform the gallery space by creating billboards constructed from plywood and sitex (perforated steel), the types of materials used to board up abandoned buildings and disused factories. The process of building installations allows Ford to scrutinise the psychic affects of space and architecture. These materials represent the precarious and provisional architecture of the liminal. Her own experience of living in squatted housing and the narratives surrounding precarity are distilled in these materials.
These pieces also create a surface upon which she will paste A0 photocopies of drawings from her walks in Birmingham. She uses cut up as a method, a way of simultaneously inhabiting different temporal zones; the jarring, uncanny nature of these collages is an attempt to articulate moments of historical rupture and conflate this with an intimate, very personal relationship with the city.
The space will be permeated by a series of sound pieces, field recordings and conversations, a new way of working for Ford. She records, writes and draws as a way of mapping the psychic contours of the city. Her work spans moments of historical intensity, for example a recurring point in the show is the 1972 Battle of Saltley Gate. She drifts among the area’s liminal, transient and spectral populations- the Italian community on Fazeley Street, residents of Birmingham’s Rowton House, Irish pubs round the coach station, post-punk, traveller and rave scenes- as a way of gauging the mood of the contemporary city, of a particular moment within a conflation of temporalities.
She is returning to the towpaths and backstreets of Digbeth, the industrial estates and regenerated vistas of Eastside and examining them through the prism of the ‘Big City Plan’ and impending arrival of HS2. She is interrogating the impact of urban regeneration in Birmingham and looking at the role of artists and the ‘creative industries’ in this process.
Grand Union and The Showroom are working in partnership on the commissioning of Laura Oldfield Ford’s work in 2016-2017. This project will be developed later in the year at Edgware Road, where The Showroom is situated, and will culminate in a solo exhibition in 2017.
Laura Oldfield Ford b.1973 ( Halifax, West Yorkshire) is an artist working and living in London. She completed a BA at the Slade in 2001, an MA in Painting at the RCA in 2007, and is curently a researcher in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art . Recent exhibitions include Itinerant Code, Tensta Konsthall, 2015; Ruin Lust, Tate Britain 2014; Recording Britain, V&A 2012; Anarchy Unmasked, British Library 2014; Soft Estate, Bluecoat Liverpool 2013 and Spacex 2013; Desire Lines, Caja Madrid, Barcelona 2012; There is a Place New Art gallery Walsall 2012; Orbitecture Focal Point Gallery, Southend 2011 and Poster Sites Arnolfini, Bristol 2010.
In 2013 she was awarded a Stanley Picker Fellowship at Kingston University where she undertook new research on the phenomenon of suburbanisation. This culminated in a show—Seroxat, Smirnoff, THC— in 2014.
She lectures and teaches across the UK and internationally on issues surrounding urbanism, architecture, protest and memory. This has included institutions such as Royal College of Art, Chelsea, Central St Martins and Goldsmiths. She regularly give talks and lectures on similar themes; recent examples are Tate Britain, Goethe Institute Amsterdam, British Library, LSE, Tensta Konsthall.
Writing is an integral part of her practice, and in 2011 Verso published a collection of her zine Savage Messiah. She is a contributing writer/artist to Art Review, Guardian, Granta Magazine, Building Design, Mute magazine and Verso Blog.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Jam City- Dream a Garden

-- first published

Jam City – Dream a Garden – a dérive – LONDON – May 1st 2015

Aldgate- spectral zone colonised by international finance. Towering enclaves, marble clad lobbies, burnished monuments to global capitalism. In 2012 these glacial geometries conjured the sound of Classical Curves, a record steeped in hostile seduction, the archisemiotics of power. Now, in 2015 with a creeping imminence, Dream a Garden is a reminder of the saplings of elder, tangles of wild roses, tendrils of bindweed waiting to push through minute cracks in the walls. The impervious citadel is poised to revert to a dreaming arcadia.

These songs delineate the fracturing of melancholy chambers, the suffocating sadness of the atomised. They evoke the dissociative climb through walkways and landings but like a subterranean river the possibility of escape is always there.

The mesmerising atmosphere lets you melt into walls, push through fences; it ushers the flight from Barratt developments, Redrow bastions and guides you through a whorl of narrow lanes- satellite dishes, corrugated iron, mosques nestled in dilapidated terraces.
Sounds spill from car windows- Commercial Road, Cable street- languid grime pitch shifting in the traffic, traces of ’80s New Wave, glimmers of Prince-

to Swedenborg Gardens and Fortress Wapping, miltancy echoing in the ruins,coming up from the rubble –
1981/ 1984/ 1985/ 1994/ 1999/ 2000/ 2011/ 2015
time compresses– becomes prismatic,
voice, almost buried, filtered through lost temporalities-
Print Strike, Poll Tax, J18-

the dry scents of a heat wave, 2011 uprisings, losing signal-shifting in and out of consciousness-
Meshes, knots, labyrinthine paths. Abandoned pubs, abandoned yards- a spectral archeaology directing us through different rooms,into the foundations of buildings.
Mist burning off in the heat, iridescent vapours; archaic scents of cinnamon, tobacco and coffee unlocked in the bricks of abandoned warehouses.

Crackles- muffled sounds– overlaid skeins, overlaid maps– routes plotted, routes navigated. Mossy brick walls, ferns erupting in the cracks.
Bombsites, derelict wharves, climbing through fences into forgotten gardens.

We are propelled, the beat of the walk, a blazing conduit- through arcadian groves of broken paving stones, arches of jasmine and lilac.

The mercurial span of the Thames, Wapping to Limehouse. Possibilities emerging, sublime sequences.
In these tidal territories space is reordered, we move beyond the tropes of consumerism. We escape the hoardings, shop fronts, the endless online hectoring. We remember how we connected in the realm of the sublime, the celestial. Songs opening apertures to a brooding magic, articulating diffuse moments of bonding, elevating the city by reclaiming it.
Amidst the merchants houses, the cobbled lanes, Foxtons and Savils on Wapping High Street, arrogant totems glowing fluorescent yellow, electric pink. In these sacred sites their presence is a malign vexation. And so it is with capitalism, when it sneaks into your subconscious, when it contaminates precious bonds.

Capitalism has taken our desires and distorted them, reassembled them in a machinic parade of parts, a Hans Bellmer kaleidoscope. The encroachment into subjective spaces, like the city’s enchanted lacunae, are violations, they threaten us at the deepest level . Without cherished connections, without the budleia and the briar, we dissoicate, feel oursleves splintering.
A brass carillon, we recognise it, a call, an exhortation to act- voice sweeping in layers- radiant cascades of guitar, moments of anticipation emerging under machinic attack, a critical intoxication, the regaining of signal- cherry blossom and magnolia suddenly here– This is us winning– moving through the city- Foxtons wrecked, Aylesbury occupied, Aldgate erupting- the triumph of the swarm, the collective on its way somewhere better–a dark psycedelia, an ominous presence.

Dream a Garden gauges the mood of the UK in 2015 – SSRIs, austerity, housing crisis- and reminds us that moments of transcendence can be reached by tuning into the current situation , by sharpening our critical capacity. It takes us through submerged vistas, the ephemeral beaches of the Thames, to a shoreline of exquisite assembly.