10 April 2012

Dreaming up a new vision for South London

Wearing a silver suit, sunglasses and a stuffed horse's head, Marcus Coates stares at the empty Heygate estate in south London. The eccentric artist, 44, has been visiting this site near the Elephant & Castle shopping centre for years – getting to know residents before they were evicted in 2008 and 2009, listening to stories, even moving in with some before eviction day. His dad helped build the estate in the 60s (when it was thought of as a fine example of urban planning, not a local council sore spot perpetually marked for redevelopment) and Coates has used this as background to help him as he mulls over the site's unknown future.
His methods are curious. He explains: "There are millenniums-old traditions of 'visions'; of shamen whose imaginings were used to try to solve intractable problems. These days that has become a corporate thing: rich developers have visions, councils have visions. Archaic culture has become part of corporate culture." So Coates decided to counter this with some visions of his own, using a combination of meditation, self-induced trances and novelty headgear to see what ideas for the redevelopment of the site he could muster. A film, Vision Quest – a Ritual for Elephant & Castle, follows these efforts, including Coates's well-attended on-stage trance at a nearby music venue in 2009.

 Read the rest of this article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/apr/08/marcus-coates-artist-elephant-castle?INTCMP=SRCH

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