One brief shining moment
Explaining modern art today is a tall order, because art is sometimes a fleeting experience. It is like the tree having fallen in the forest, but did it really fall if no one saw it? Artists employ various documentation media to create artifacts like a pile of logs indicating that there once was a tree, and you must imagine the forest from whence it came.
Picture this, in London England there is a place called Market Estate that is a public housing estate consisting of 271 flats and maisonettes situated to the north of Caledonian Park in the London borough of Islington. That is the forest.
The forest is about to be chopped down, but on the last day before the chopping begins, artists are invited to the woods to make something of it, and to revel in what has happened there long before this moment of devastation.
There is an art form called defenestration whereby everything is thrown out the window, and while Market Estate isn’t that, it is another art form.
The London Guardian describes it in a headline as shown here.
“Dereliction of beauty: Artists take over London's doomed Market Estate More than 75 artists have moved into a condemned housing block in north London, transforming its empty rooms and flaking walls into vibrant works of temporary art. On the eve of their public show – which lasts for one day only before the bulldozers move in – artists and former residents give us final, lingering look around.”
“It is named after the Metropolitan Cattle Market held in the area for many years up until the 1960s. Three of the six blocks that make up the estate are named after famous breeds of the animals that used to be traded in the market; Tamworth (pigs), Kerry (cows) and Southdown (sheep). The remaining three blocks are called the Clock tower blocks after the Clock tower in Caledonian Park, which contains a still working clock used as a prototype for Big Ben. The estate was built by the Greater London Council (GLC) and completed in 1967 to a design by architects Farber & Bartholomew. Although flats are relatively large (having been built in accordance with the then new Parker Morris standards), the estate became run down, neglected and plagued by anti-social behaviour. The redevelopment of nearby Kings Cross probably contributed to a growing drugs and prostitution problem in and around the estate as activity was displaced from Kings Cross. “Under the agreement the whole estate will be demolished and replaced by a mixture of houses and small blocks of modern low rise flats, built on a traditional street pattern. The contractor on this project is Higgins Construction. Existing secure tenants were guaranteed a new home on the new development if they wanted it, and 90 additional homes for sale and shared ownership will also be built to help cross-subsidise the costs of building tenants' new homes. Caledonian Park will also be improved as part of the scheme. Work on the new homes started in early 2005, significant improvements were made to Caledonian Park beginning in 2006 including planting new trees and redoing all the paths.’”
2,000 people attended the Market Estate Art Project that was organized by artists that featured a radio broadcast heard by millions around the world on the internet. By any measure, the event was a success and by tomorrow, the dozers and wrecking cranes will begin demolition of the buildings, though they cannot touch the hearts, minds, memories and electronic artifacts that for one last moment made the place shine in intellectual delight.