Rocky Horror Show

Jimmy Cauty's Miniature Post-Riot Landscape

4 October 16 words: Paul Klotschkow
"If you saw a police officer in the street and his buttons were just badly painted smudges you would quickly start to question that version of reality"
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The Aftermath Dislocation Principle is a post-riot landscape in three parts. Can you explain what those three scenes are and how they connect?
When the Aftermath arrived back from Dismaland, I wanted to set up a live workshop so people could come along and watch us making a new ADP section. We hired a 2,000 sq ft railway arch in America Street, Southwark, and set it up like a model village with a turnstile and paying kiosk, charging £4 entry. There was a large section behind security fencing where myself and a small group of seven volunteer model makers set about over the next three months making the new parts.

The new section was based on the Tower of Babel, a vertical spiral city equivalent to 1,000 ft high.

The idea for the new section came about as a result of reading a piece by Jonathan Downing in which he drew parallels between the ADP’s ravaged landscape, which is set in Bedfordshire, and the original Garden of Eden that, according to the Panacea Society, was also based in Bedfordshire. I figured that if all the police officers were left to their own devices they would eventually come up with the idea of building a utopian police city from the wreckage of the Aftermath. This is what we set about building.

The city was called New Bedford, or New Bedford Tower, and was designed by the police for the police. Around the fortified perimeter, a massive landfill site piled up against the ramparts, thousands of refugees were camped in this vast rubbish dump. A sign at the entrance reads “Welcome to England” but, like the rest of the Aftermath, there was no sign of the inhabitants of the camp, just hundreds of construction police busy building the new tower.

As with the original Tower of Babel, New Bedford was never completed and the top sections remained clad in scaffolding and cranes. When the America Street ‘Model Village’ closed down on Christmas Day 2015, the tower was installed into a 10 x 8 x 9 ft shipping container and named ADP 2.

To connect ADP 1, the original landscape, with ADP 2, New Bedford Rising, a bridge was constructed – ADP 3. The bridge spanned the River Mersey, now relocated to Bedfordshire for the purposes of the ADP. The bridge, like the tower, was never completed and upon the closure of the ‘Model Village’ it was installed in a 6 ft³ shipping container.

Having spent two months installing ADP 1 into a 40 ft shipping container with 123 observation ports positioned around the outside, all three containers set off on a UK tour, The ADP Riot Tour. On Christmas Eve 2016, all three containers will converge at the Garden of Eden in Bedford and will be aligned with the winter solstice sunrise. For the purposes of the ADP, the winter solstice has now been moved to Christmas Day. At dusk on Christmas Day the tour will end.

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When did you first start working on the project and what were the processes you went through to get it to a stage where you felt that it was finished? There’s an amazing amount of detail going on…
I first started work on the ADP on New Year’s Day 2013. There was one thing I needed to start the work, and that thing was cash. Cash to buy all the parts and cash to pay for labour. At a meeting with the L-13 [studio/publisher/gallery] it was agreed that £5,000 would be paid into my bank account each month for nine months and this would pay for all the costs of building the ADP. Upon commencing the work, the £5,000 per month was quickly increased to £8,000. The ADP was delivered on time and on budget nine months later.

What were the challenges you faced working on such a small scale?
It was important to me that the ADP looked like a real world, and the only way to achieve that look is to make sure every detail is to scale. When you see a policeman standing looking at something everything about that policeman has to look right, even down to the smallest detail like the buttons on his coat. Even though you don’t notice the buttons, they are there and they are to scale. The effect of that crazy amount of detail multiplied by thousands – because there are thousands of police – conspires to make it look real. A bit like real life, if you saw a police officer in the street and his buttons were just badly painted smudges you would quickly start to question that version of reality.

When the exhibit moves to a new location, do you have to be present to help set it all up or are you able to leave detailed set of instructions?
Now that the ADP is safely installed inside a 40 ft shipping container, it’s just a matter of dropping the container in the right place and switching it on. Before it was in the container, when it was touring around the Netherlands and then went to Dismaland, I had to remake the landscape each time it was moved. It was built with this in mind, so every section fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle and every section had its own wooden crate for shipping. There were a total of 23 crates.

On your blog there’s a group of police officers looking at the piece. What did they make of it?
When we showed the Aftermath in America Street as the model village, we had a police-only day. Two van-loads turned up on the day, alerted by Twitter, which is a popular police communication tool. They seemed genuinely impressed by the amount of police cars all attending the crime scene at the same time – the ADP has over 100 police vehicles all with blue flashing lights. Because of the recent cuts to policing, very few police cars and vans are [now] left on the road.

Also on your blog there’s a message from someone in Penzance explaining reasons for not wanting the exhibit to visit their town…
That was a letter of rejection from Cornwall Council on the grounds that some of the graffiti that has built up on the outside of the container over the duration of the tour was thought to be offensive. It went to Falmouth instead who were very pleased to have it. On the whole, people seem to respond to the work in a genuinely positive and enthusiastic manner. Mostly we leave very happy people behind us.

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You have created what looks like a rather desolate world. Is there any sort of hope to be found within in it?
The Aftermath may look desolate on first sight but there are many heartwarming stories and acts of kindness going on out of sight just around the corner.

What influenced the idea of creating a world that exists in the immediate aftermath of a riot?
Originally there was to be a full-scale riot taking place within the city and surrounding countryside, and many of the rioters were made and painted in preparation for this. I think I had a problem with portraying any kind of movement – I didn’t want to show people doing anything like running or fighting, because that would just be weird because all the figures are static. I figured it would be better if all the people in the landscape were just standing doing nothing, standing in small groups talking or just looking around. That way I could say this is just a snapshot in time of say, three seconds; the police car lights are flashing so time is passing but those lights are just on a three second loop. It was only at that point I realised it should be the aftermath of something, so I omitted the rioters.

How are you choosing the locations where the tour visits?
The concept of the tour is based on the idea that there has been a riot inside the container, even though we are saying we don’t know what has really happened. For the purposes of a concept to hang the tour on, it fits well. We had a map of the UK on the office wall in America Street; I wrote the word ‘riot’ in bold text over the map and said if your town or village fell within the word riot and was the site of a real riot, we could come to you. We started by sending a Twitter message out calling for towns to come forward, and pretty soon we had most of the county covered and the tour commenced. Nottingham qualified because of the 1958 Race Riots and 2011 England Riots.

I didn’t want to ask too many questions about The KLF, but if I could end on a couple: the band’s appearance at the ’92 Brit Awards remains one of my favourite live performances. How did the organisers react when you told them what you had planned or how did you keep it secret?
There is a self-imposed 23 year embargo on Bill and myself talking about anything that starts with the letter K. That 23 years is coming to an end next year.

The Aftermath Dislocation Principle, New Art Exchange, until Sunday 9 October.

Jimmy Cauty and L-13 Light Industrial Workshop founder, Steve Lowe, will be giving a talk at the New Art Exchange on Saturday 8 October 2016.

Jimmy Cauty website

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