enter change Performance and Nature connect unsettle bridge
Bird Brain Critical Art Ensemble Welfare State International
Simon Whitehead
PLATFORM
Shelley Sacks
green museum.org Fern Shaffer and Othello Anderson
reader
David Haley
John Lyall
Ballet Atlantique-Regine Chopinot
Opening Essay Introducing the Artists Links and Readings
Hester Reeve Basia Irland


 

killing us softly

 

 

The "Q" Events

 

 

Freedom in The City

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 corporations.

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 :

  • music/sound-pieces
  • 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 impacts.

PLATFORM also has used the "Q" Event strategy for one-off visiting groups of campaigners from areas affected by oil - Colombia, Scotland, Alaska, Georgia,
Azerbaijan, Turkey.

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 to them.

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 work.
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
HOMELAND 1993
Merton Island 1993
Delta 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


PLATFORM

Core members:
Dan Gretton, (killing us softly)
James Marriott, (Unravelling the Carbon Web, with Greg Muttitt)
Jane Trowell, (Freedom in The City, with Nick Robins)

Contact

w : www.platformlondon.org
e : info at platformlondon.org
a:
7 Horselydown Lane
Tower Bridge
London SE1  2LN
UK

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

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