‘ “A monument to dissent” is what its editors call this timely, handsomely produced rejoinder to the state-sponsored hoopla over the London Olympics. It’s a collection of critical and visual essays by architects, sociologists, film-makers and community activists that chronicle, in sadness as much as in anger, the democratic deficits that enabled this “scam of scams” (as Iain Sinclair, one of the contributors, calls it) to be railroaded through. Some of the raspberry-blowers are well known, but it’s those displaced by developers and Olympic Delivery Authority henchmen – boaters, allotment gardeners, working-class Londoners, Romani men and women – whose presence most haunts each page. The government’s 2002 “Game Plan” report, quoted by one essayist, declared that the Olympics “appear to be more about celebration than economic returns.” It’s valuable to be reminded of this troubling if plausible assessment. The Art of Dissent deserves a gold medal for its incisive, guileful, eloquent truculence.’
Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian, 31 July 2012
The Art of Dissent: Adventures in London’s Olympic State
Artists, writers, film makers, academics, photographers and activists intervene in the dominant discourse, language and images of regeneration and the Games. The book examines both the political economy of the mega-event and the silenced history of Lower Lea valley, making a powerful case against the politics of erasure and the corporatisation of urban space. Issues of land grab, displacement, military urbanism and exceptional measures of legal protection are explored through essays, images, poetry, fiction and installations.
About the Editors:
Hilary Powell is an artist and AHRC Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL working on a three-year project critiquing the utopian narratives of the Games through appropriation of techniques of pop-up book production and etching alongside a residency on a demolition site.
Isaac Marrero-Guillamón is post-doctoral research fellow at Birkbeck undertaking a project entitled ‘The Militant City’ investigating the role of art in the configuration of spaces of dissent in relation to the Olympic mega-event.
Artists – photographers – writers
POLLY BRADEN AND DAVID CAMPANY
LAURA OLDFIELD FORD
SUSAN PUI SAN LOK
‘It’s no surprise that artistic responses to the Olympics are forming a serious body of critical work. From Lara Almarcegui to Laura Oldfield Ford and Iain Sinclair, the Art of Dissent brings together some of the best.’ Anna Minton, author of Ground Control (2012)
‘This collection opens up and explores the space between the Olympic Games seen as global spectacle and the mega event experienced as a disturbance to the flows and places of east London. The Olympic Games bring many hidden legacies. One important one is a stimulus to reflection and debate about the city and its futures. As well as redesigning large parts of the host city the Games force us to re-think and re-map borders and territories. Linking aesthetic apprehension to critical sensibility in a collection of striking pieces, this volume records a valuable account of the debates, experiences and perspectives that characterise Olympic London.’ Dr Iain MacRury, Director, London East Research Institute, UEL. Author (with Gavin Poynter) of Olympic Cities: 2012 and the Remaking of London (2009)
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