‘We have had a wonderful response for our call out – the greatest distance. Our absolute deadline for any proposals is 5pm on Tuesday 5th June, so if you have not contributed yet you still have the Bank holiday Weekend. The panel discussing all proposals will meet on June 8th.’ [Neville]
My thoughts on getting as far away as possible from the Olympics: I think you should go somewhere (any country – London automatically disqualifies itself!) that is at least a day’s walk (so say 15/20 miles) from an electricity supply and mobile phone reception/internet connection. I was trying to think of how you could absent yourself from the Olympics as a global event which is performed predominantly in virtual space/on screen (although of course it has a material manifestation). I think being somewhere without access to the global world as mediated through TV/internet/mobile phones would qualify as far away! As for what you should do there and how you should record it, I’m not sure. I guess in terms of recording, it should be ‘analogue’, drawing/handwritten text rather than anything technology based. Maybe you could just sit and meditate?!
Hi Neville this has been a subject occupying my mind since the announcement of the games in 2008.
My proposal or brief for you is the: Budget Olympic Movement
It won’t place you in a geographic location rather a moral position. Take the 1000 materials fee and spend it trying to complete as many Olympic disciplines as possible before the opening event 2012. Perhaps finishing the 100m as the ceremony opens. 1000 equates to Using just 0.00009999999999999999% of the government estimated cost of staging the Olympics. Geography as metaphor -“claim the moral high ground”
I think the greatest possible distance is not a matter of geography rather the questionable ethical actions that are involved in the staging of the Olympics and the people and places that it effects. Specifically I am thinking about the displaced homeless people that are strongly encouraged to move out of the area to ensure that the Olympic precinct is clean, beautified and fit for international visitation. The peoples’ games huh, perhaps a more apt description may be the right people’s games. This is by no means a new phenomenon it certainly occurred in Sydney in 2000 and in Atlanta in 1996. I feel that to go the greatest possible distance it seems necessary to find the place where the Olympics push unwanted people towards.
To highlight the gulf between rhetoric and actions, I also have a suggestion to your activities when you find this place. Embrace the aspirations of inclusivity, join the Olympics disregarded people and share an action, a meal, something to bring together people to share a moment.
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 Ridgeway.
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 Portland e.g
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.
From Fluorescence and Flashlights to Fish and Freedom
To spend time creating a short piece of video or animation about Neville going from the Olympic Village (a very busy place which will be getting a lot of people’s attention), to swimming amongst fish in Henleaze quarry near Bristol, where people don’t care about what’s going on, and there isn’t the glamour of press attention.
For Neville to create this film collaboratively with us, in visits during the month leading up to 27 July 2012.
Neville Co-Director and protagonist
Deborah Aguirre Jones Artist collaborator/facilitator
Other residents Artist collaborators
Whilst the context (a women’s medium secure unit) will influence ideas and production, this should not be a focus in the final artwork.
Some of the contrasts our proposal offers are:
We will collaborate, rather than compete.
Instead of external restrictions and rules, we will work with individual and collective choice.
Although many things have a concrete, measured reality, we will be more interested in immeasurable imagination.
We will opt for spontaneity and flexibility, not exhaustive and rigid pre-planning.
We will be unwatched in our act of imagination, far away from scrutiny.
The swimmer will be immersed in fresh water amongst fish, rather than the sterile, chlorinated water of the Olympic pool.
Our image will be seen by the half-light of dusk, not fluorescent strips or spotlights.
I read the article about your latest work concerning the Olympics in the Guardian over the weekend. It sounds a great idea!
Come to Leyton Marsh. It isn’t far away but it’s a long distance from the supposed ideals of the ancient Olympics. I live in Clapton, Hackney and being so close to an Olympic site I now feel that the sport is just a smokescreen.
I made the image below in February in response to being told to be excited by the upcoming Games by an ODA project manager as he explained how he was going to build over Leyton Marsh.
good luck with the work,
My name is Chie. I just read your Greatest Distance that came with Meantime mailing list. I and my friend Stuart Wilding would like to suggest that the destination for your Greatest Distance can be at Newham Atherton Leisure Centre, which has shut down by the council in spite of the complains from the local community that uses the facility. The council said that it is a waste of money to pay for the maintenance of the leisure centre while the Olympic swimming pool will be open. But the Olympic swimming pool will not be open to public at earliest until 2014. Meanwhile, people lost the only public leisure centre within the borough.
There is a great distance between the council and its local people here. And a place like this really needs to get a public attention. And I believe that art is not about occupying an imaginary independent autonomous space, but it needs to be at the heart of the system in order to reconfigure the already existing structure. Art and politics needs to occupy the same space, but identify different ways of reimagining the space. So, I would like to suggest that you might find what you describe Greatest Distance within the very local area which you are trying to critique.
The Greatest Possible Distance
The Mekong river, beginning in Eastern Tibet, flows south through China to Myanmar (Burma) where it forms the Laos border. Continuing further south alongside Laos it forms the Thailand border. It then flows through Cambodia to Vietnam where it eventually reaches the Sea.
The 12th longest river in the world its 2703 miles are bustling with life and are home to many species still being discovered today. The river creates a hub of natural energy and is home to both humans and natural habitats. The river, a consistent source of energy is ever renewing itself. A sustainable source of energy, the water provides for its inhabitants and those that live along its banks. For the fishermen, the boatmen, the rice pickers and the many nearby communities the river acts as a key connector between the countries with their dependence on this source.
The water, a link between place, countries united, yet, with a far from perfect history. Both China and Myanmar have some of the worst human rights records in the world with allegations of child cruelty. slavery and censorship. Myanmar suffers from the effects of years of isolation and has one of the least developed economies in the world.
The nearby golden triangle suffers economical decline due to government crackdowns on opium trading. All of this means that many of these areas in South East Asia surrounding the Mekong are finding alternative ways to regenerate and restore their communities. The significance that the river has on the livelihoods of the people that inhabit these countries and their use of it as a source of power is an example of development that is, in my eyes, the greatest possible distance from the 2012 London Olympics.
I am sure that suggestions could be made for many areas of remoteness that offer a hive of activity and sense of community amongst humans participating within their own habitats. But I have chosen the Mekong River because it reminds me that the word redevelopment can have a very different meaning. Not to suggest that there has been no conflict between countries as a result of regeneration projects. However within the smaller more rural communities, it seems redevelopment can be defined by patience and an almost interminable process of nature and nurturing of the land, of building community by community. The river banks of these countries contain curious places, a world away from western ideals.
Greetings and good evening Neville,
Feels like I know you, but I don’t. I only know David Lillington, whom has suggested your project to me….
So I thought long and hard about a suggestion for your project. I discussed it with my 13 year old son and told him of your background and some of your art pieces. What would you suggest I asked him (Ibraheem Ahsan is his name)
He said its simple mum, he needs to go to South Africa and have a cup of tea with Nelson Mandela during the opening ceremony….and with that he was gone like a puff of smoke.
I put all my ideas aside and thought this is the one to suggest to you. Rather brilliant (completely unbiased opinion of his mum)
Anyhow I wish you much luck Sir- admire your work, it’s pretty unique.
SO: I’m thinking of the Games, the idea of participation, and the London festival idea in general of happy-happy participation, jubilee street parties, international etc etc and I totally understand that you want to get away from it all 😉 on the other hand I’m quite into the Shakespeare in different languages thing, too.
So the idea of the Olympics is about competition, and healthy competition, and participation/groups, inclusion of everyone, disabled, healthy, fairness, humanity, and it’s also very democratic. Since that is my first thought, the second thought that is coming immediately into my mind is ‘what would be the polar opposite of this?’ and that could be a political regime such as the one in North Korea. I did actually think of North Korea before I read your pdf. So, going to a communist country would seem to be a far distance, but the furthest? Hmmm…. maybe communism is also very about participation, inclusion of everyone, work ethic, daily calisthenics/exercise etc etc, so – nope, not necessarily.
How about Auschwitz? SORRY to be so dark, but it just popped into my mind that visiting a Nazi concentration camp would be just about as far away as you can get from the ideas of democracy, fairness and inclusion, and even sports, health, competition, survival of the fittest, glorious achievements of the whole human race, encouragement from the whole planet, etc etc. um, is that a bit too dark??
Tell me if it is just too gloomy for you!! I think North Korea is also a good idea. Going to a hospital could also be far away from the idea of sports/health/games. Or you could go to monuments in Berlin commemorating the concentration camps, but that seems a bit half-hearted. Right, so that’s my idea then, Auschwitz (there are other camps but that seems to be the most famous and easily accessible with your budget, no need for visas, etc etc).