Performing the Corporate
Meet the speed of The City with slowness
Meet the anonymity of The City with intimacy
Meet the concrete of The City with nature
PLATFORM promotes creative strategies of democratic engagement towards
social and ecological justice.
The current long-term work 90% Crude
(1996 - ), is an ongoing
investigation into and provocation around the culture and impact of transnational
So far, 90% Crude is made up of ten public project strands, including Unravelling
the Carbon Web, killing us softly, and Freedom in The City.
PLATFORM has worked with performance as one of its creative tools since
its inception in 1983. Each of the three projects featured here uses
performance strategies, seeing them as core means towards affecting deep
change in those who participate or attend them. PLATFORM's work revolves
around creating safe spaces for difficult or previously unimaginable
discussions, and the use of performance is part of the building of both
susceptibility to those discussions, and trust.
The "Q" Events
As part of Unravelling the Carbon Web - an investigation into the inter-relationships
that support and sustain British-based oil companies BP and Shell - PLATFORM
have devised the "Q" (Quarterly) Events,
live art walks in central London which take place on the same days as
the companies' publication of the reports of their 3-monthly results.
The performances follows the cycle of a full year, in a series of 8,
day-long events, mirroring the companies' activities. They combine :
- contemporary research
- readings of specially written fables
- video material - projected onto the urban fabric
- discussion - building on PLATFORM`s long history of creating imaginative
spaces to catalyse discussion between diverse audiences
The walks take place in The City of London (the financial district)
and The City of Westminster, at locations that illustrate the metabolism
of BP and Shell and the institutions that serve to support their work.
The "Q" Events are a strategy whereby people
from the oil industry, related sectors such as finance, PR, and insurance,
and the arts, campaigning and ecology fields can walk 'around' the companies.
By standing outside the walls, moving through passageways and lobbies
of the companies, the "Q" Events create a
susceptibility to new ways of thinking about the problems of fossil fuel
PLATFORM also has used the "Q" Event strategy
for one-off visiting groups of campaigners from areas affected by oil
- Colombia, Scotland, Alaska, Georgia,
killing us softly
By shining a light into the world of the bureaucrats, planners and businessmen
who contributed to Nazism and the Holocaust, killing us softly raises
a critical question as to whether such an event can be viewed as a finished,
historical episode or whether the psychology and behaviour that enabled
genocide to occur is not only still present today, but exists both in
the institutional culture of trans-national corporations and in the mindset
and activity of many individuals working for such corporations.
killing us softly was first made public through a series
of eight performances between 1999 and 2003. These were ten-hour events
devised for a small audience of nine people who were invited from fields
such as industry, business, the arts, education, psychology, environmentalism,
and campaigning. The performance/presentation was an intensive durational
experience, combining lecture, poetry, autobiography, live music, slide
and video. The audience sat in a semi-circle of personal darkened spaces,
enabling them to focus only on the images, speech and sounds presented
After this 7-hour presentation/performance, participants moved from
that space and walked to the 'after-space', for a meal and a floating
discussion on a river-borne vessel.
The intention of this form is to create a highly acute environment where
deep personal reflection is unavoidable, and where new revelations and
insights may occur, which can then be shared immediately if desired,
or reserved for another time. Its political effect is for a small strategically
selected audience, concentrating on profound private impact and the ensuing
ripple effect, rather than mass impact through mass access.
killing us softly is now being developed into a book.
Freedom in The City
Loot! Reckoning with the East India Company
Seeing the invisible.
PLATFORM has long used the walk as an important form for public space
We have explored walking as a research tool, as a ritual, as performance, as
intervention, as a political tool, and as a tool for sharing insights and information.
Freedom in The City is a composite project researching the roots of contemporary
corporate culture and behaviour, one part of which is the walking project Loot
- Reckoning with the East India Company. The walks explore the questions
of visibility and invisibility of the impacts of commerce in The City of London.
Two parallel stories are told by two persons as participants circumnavigate
The City: one of the East India Company's activities, values and behaviour,
told at significant sites in its history (warehouses, headquarters, etc), and
the other, a set of questions about the values in business related to contemporary
issues. The walks evolve as rolling discussions.
The East India Company, founded in 1600, remains the most powerful corporation
the world has ever seen, a precursor to today's transnational corporations.
Yet walk about The City of London, and you can barely find a trace of
this 250-year old, extraordinarily powerful institution.
This global trading business was brought down not because of a disastrous
fall in profits, but because of public outcry and political opprobrium
at its behaviour as de facto governors of Bengal and India in the mid
19th Century. The British government in essence nationalised it and its
land-holdings, handing India and Bengal from the rule of private enterprise
to Great Britain and the British Empire.
The Loot! walks are a vivid way of enabling participants
to interact with stories from seemingly distant history which are immediately
connected to the here and now, stories that have, like the rivers beneath
the streets, been forgotten, or erased without trace.
Other projects include:
RENUE - renewable energy in the urban environment 1996 -ongoing
Merton Island 1993
Still Waters 1992
Listening to the Fleet
The Power of the Wandle
Swimming in the Walbrook
Unearthing the Effra
Tree of Life, City of Life 1989
Dan Gretton, (killing us softly)
James Marriott, (Unravelling the Carbon Web, with Greg Muttitt)
Jane Trowell, (Freedom in The City, with Nick Robins)
w : www.platformlondon.org
e : info at platformlondon.org
7 Horselydown Lane
London SE1 2LN
Photo notes and credits
1] Dan Gretton during killing us softly
2] James Marriott during The “Q” Events
3] “What Gets Buried” postcard
Photographs provided by and copyright of PLATFORM