Deelfontein is a ghost town stranded along the railway line almost exactly half way between Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. The train no longer stops in Deelfontein, but a little over a hundred years ago, almost concurrent with the Modern Olympic Games, it used to be the centre of military activity. During the Boer War, [1899-1902] the last war where the British aggressively sought to extend the boundaries of Empire, Deelfontein was the frontline field hospital. The lasting testimony to its past is the cemetery filled with soldiers no older then the athletes that will compete in London.
Today it takes a long overland journey to reach Deelfontein. There is little reason to go.
Given its History and location this must be the greatest possible distance. On July 27th it will be mid winter, cold and very dark by 6pm. I suggest you make your way to Deelfontein where the remains of the railway platform is still visible, then for three hours wait in the dark for a train that will not stop.
As usual, a brilliant concept.
Distance: The Elemi Triangle, perhaps in Kenya, of South Sudan or even Uganda?
bury yourself in a common grave in a cemetery (in afghanistan for added media impact)
mount olympus, taking part or looking for the original olympic poetry and song competitions
a busy A+E department
more to follow
My immediate thought is to suggest a tropical island. But not any old one: the Indian Ocean island Diego Garcia (though I’m not sure whether this would be feasible with your budget).
Reasoning is that it’s a remote place that the government doesn’t want us to think or know about, primarily because of their removal of the resident (Chagos Islanders) population for essentially politico-military reasons (including the suspicion of hosting CIA ‘extraordinary rendition’ activities), and their policy not to allow the population to return (while brazenly declaring it a marine reserve). So the politics of the situation are both a reflection of the Olympic site, and an antithesis to it (massive publicity/minimised publicity). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Garcia, including the Wikileaks aspect.
My immediate response is that you should return to Antarctica, which is an international zone, international like the Olympics, although, simultaneously unlike the Olympics as Antarctica (courtesy the South Atlantic Treaty) is ñ ostensibly – a place of international collaboration, whereas the Olympics is a 4- yearly moment of nationalistic competition.
But it will be mid-Winter, so you canít get there! Or are there flights of persuasion and imagination?
My immediate thought is that the greatest distance from the Olympic Park would probably be a residential flat on the fringes of the Park.
The proximity would highlight the fact that the residents have no involvement in the Games, no tickets, no interest, no cultural connection etc.
I think that you should go to Argentina.
Firstly, as a symbol of political distance between two countries.
As the UK ‘celebrates’ the 30th anniversary of the Malvinas / Falklands conflict.
Secondly as a symbol of political / militaristic display- linked to the Malvinas/Falklands anniversary.
At a time when the military statuary of London is expanding (a £5million Bomber Command Memorial is being unveiled on 28th June 212 in Green Park with a Lancaster Bomber flypast dropping red poppies.
The London2012 Olympics has taken over the city as a military organisation of the urban space of the city, under the assumption of an imagined ‘security’ threat. This will involve large scale troop army, navy and RAF activity over and through the city of London.
The medal ceremonies will involve the visible presence of the armed forces as carriers of the medals when they are presented to the athletes.
Secondly, as a symbol of Cultural Exchange between the UK (and by implication the nations at the International Olympics) to represnt a united cultural activity to unite nations in peaceful, cooperative, amicable activity. The fact that you are a single individual undertaking this is a poignant opposed to the mass transportation and displacement of athletes, media, spectators, and administrators
The Bahamas, thinking of a prominent Offshore site, known from it’s technical economic withdrawal from tax zones around the world, was speaking today with golding + senneby here in Stockholm who have been exploring this notion of offshore as the current state of abstraction, so one for you to be abstracted from the world is to mimic the economic systems which also remove themselves from the parts of the world they don’t wish to contribute to, whilst maintaining power and control over previously sovereign realms!
Second to that could be to be in flight to the bahamas whilst the ceremony is going on, so you are in a sense abstracted whilst travelling to a place for the purposes of being abstract!
My proposal is for you to travel the greatest possible distance by going
backwards through 150-180 million years to the quarries of the Isle of
Portland within the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, and to a
community as socially and economically challenged as those surrounding
the Olympic Park. Specifically, I would propose that you engage with
young people imprisoned in the Young Offenders Institution on the Isle
of Portland, some of whom may have family in East London.
My challenge back to you then, is that by travelling this distance away
from the razzmatazz, you will be travelling towards a place and
community where the choice of Weymouth Bay as the venue for the sailing
events, has inspired a strong environmental partnership which, through
Wild About Weymouth and Portland, is undertaking projects supporting
young people to learn skills to address their own disconnection.
The modes and routes that I suggest you travel are:
1. Olympic Park to River Thames at Bow Creek by foot or water down the
River Lea, a tributary of the Thames.
2. By Thames Clipper along the River Thames to Greenwich.
3. Disembark and walk west along the Thames Path National Trail to
Goring and Streatley and pick up the Ridgeway National Trail
3. Cycle the Ridgeway south west to Overton Hill, the end of the
4. On foot, follow the ancient route of the Ridgway along ridge lines on
rights of way to Swanage on the Dorset coast, just east of Weymouth and
5. Travel by sea kayak to the start of the new England Coast Path at
Rufus Castle (Church Ope Cove) on the Isle of Portland.
6. Disembark beneath the towering walls of the Young Offenders
Institution to a warm welcome from the governor, young people and the
Wild About Weymouth and Portland project manager, Lynn Cooch.