Hope you are well. Sorry not to come back to you sooner…….
I had thought about this but i found it quite hard really to think of somewhere (be it physical or conceptual), having had no contact with the games. As such I did not want to propose without having any true empathy as it were. But i thought again and decided that perhaps a comment from my position of apathy is, although the inverse of empathy, useful, it not a touch indulgent.
I guess in thinking about the great spectacle, that is the Olympics, there is an emphasis on such a short time the event takes place in comparison to the immense time and work that goes into the infrastructure…… and the cost.
For me, in the current climate, and world affairs, and given that the olympics have drawn away funding to the arts organisations of the UK in the form of lottery funding, I think perhaps a trip to Greece and its olympic park is timely.
Greece is of course the home of the olympics; the origin, where it all started, but also the eye of the financial storm in Europe. Many of the buildings built for the Olympics there are now in ruin and not used, see the NY Times: HYPERLINK http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704025304575284841380683082.html http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704025304575284841380683082.html
Yes, Athens, there is nowhere you can go that will take you closer to the Olympic Spirit, and strangely, at the same time, further away that the ‘olympic ideal’ (which we hold in our mind)……. and I know you like a good paradox
Thinking further about my nowhereisland suggestion for your anti-olympics place, I now see that Alex Hartley has unfortunately allowed the project to become contaminated by the olympics! Therefore, my suggestion is as follows and must happen without any engagement whatsoever with Alex and his olympic bandwagon:
On the date and time of the olympic opening ceremony you must be somewhere near nowhereisland. Perhaps on a near piece of mainland looking out towards the island or alternatively, to avoid the carbon footprint of the travel, and in order to be mindfully near the island, you could be in a quiet place, beyond earshot of any olympic sounds, with a large image of the island in front of you.
I would ask that you spend the 3 hours of the opening ceremony contemplating the attributes and qualities you would like the new living place (state is the word Alex uses) to have and also any aspects of nation states you dislike and would want to avoid.
Please make full notes of your thoughts. Note that I am asking for your views, not anything you may have read on the subject of nationhood.
My reasons for this suggestion are that:
1. I find the idea of a new living place (state!) very interesting and challenging, it immediately invites contemplation of notions of freedom.
2. Is the fact the word state has been applied already jeopardising nowhereisland’s future possibilities?
3. The idea of ‘new’ land opens a space for thoughts around new ways of living, different ways of structuring things.
4. Is freedom just an idea?
My sincere apologies for the tardiness – thoughts about great and greatest distances have been churning since you first wrote and in the chaos of recent months felt extremely timely but also challenging. So I find myself trying to resolve them at the last hour.
As you know I am most interested in how we come to know places, how we pay attention to the everyday, and as artists ‘what happens when we stay?’ (this is AIR’s primary research question and after five years of it I think there is enough investigation left to last a life time). I think your Olympic Park residency was a fantastic example of staying and I deeply respect your quiet and patient being with the place and its people, that you achieved in often-unsympathetic conditions. It is this commitment to staying that I think informs my response.
At first I though I was going to ask you to be on the move – probably walking from Stroud – the place of your home (home feels very important in so may ways to your enquiry), and also near to the pace where I was born, to Hackney – where so many feel incredibly isolated from the ambitions of this opening event, and from the games themselves (also the place of my home now). A travelling into London and yet a ‘not arriving’ in the Olympic Park, a marking out of our complicated and often unrealisable desires for the twenty first century city. Maybe I might have asked you to keep walking around the edges of the park before heading home…..
But this option was not quite fully satisfying my search for the greatest distance –
I wrote a list of things that might be essential to this ‘place’ or situation that was at the greatest distance away from the concreteness of it, from the hardness of the corporate deals, from the tightness of the systems, from the paranoid anxiety of the security – it began:
· an intimate scale of place and relationships
· a belief in the commons and in a collective shared voice
· a stillness
· a recuperative intention and gentle optimism
Today I realised where I need to ask you to be. It might not answer all of the above but I hope begins to address them.
My great current concern is for those who have to work in the middle of the night – for long hours and pathetic pay – for whom a relationship with their families, light and the city becomes almost impossible. The ethics of realising our twenty-four hour ‘have it when you want it’ society seems unquestioned. I think we need to be more attentive about how we establish our twenty-four hour city, to be more aware of the consequences of our demands on individual lives, and seek a more respectful expectation towards those individuals.
I have been an insomniac for many years and am as a consequence, unsurprisingly, fascinated by sleep. My greatest fear is not being able to keep my sleep routine as when it is disrupted I can then be sleepless for weeks and my emotional and physical well being becomes wretched.
I would like you to find a night shift worker who lives in east London and who will be sleeping or attempting to sleep during the opening ceremony because they are between long and tiring shifts – maybe in security, maybe as a cleaner, probably in some unglamorous and anonymous shabby office building far from where they live. I hope that you will have time to build a meaningful relationship with this person with the aim of agreeing a way of documenting them, possibly through video, during the three hours of the opening ceremony.
I hope that this connection that you will make will proof a fertile and productive opportunity for you and the night worker.
Thank you for asking me to think about the greatest distance it has been a useful reflection for me! Good Luck with what ever is chosen for you!
With very best wishes
Have been thinking on this on and off for the last month but it’s not easy – keep on coming back through to perhaps sitting in the largest MacDonalds in the world on the Olympic site – seems to me a world away from what the Olympics should be about!
Hope all is well with you and to catch up again soon.
Hi Neville, Dalene here from Richmond.
Hope it’s not too late, I was told you had extended the deadline.
I have two suggestions: The first is obviously to come back to Richmond 🙂
The place is in the middle of nowhere – geographically, intellectually, culturally etc. – to most people here the next town is a foreign country and people generally don’t take a great interest in the rest of the wide world. I think you’ll be quite far away from the Olympics here – mentally and physically.
The next suggestion is for you to spend time with an athlete who qualified for the Olympics but cannot participate – for whatever reason, maybe an injury or so. Someone who probably won’t have another chance to participate. Such a person must feel so far away from the Olympics, even if they are sitting in the stadium watching events.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see what you decide to do – good luck with the decision. It was nice meeting you both and hope you can make it back here again sometime.
I am Eléa studying in the University of Brighton in second year – I would like to share an idea.
Why not take a plane and be above the Olympic park but height enough to not see it properly but see the south of England. It would give you an exceptional and unusual point of view on the site and see whether you can see it from high up in the sky. Of course you need the sky to be clear and the weather conditions good but touch wood it will be.
Also as it will be half during day light and the beginning of the night you could also see it from two point of view and compare the size of the site seen from the sky and the light of the site which might glow a lot and can be seen from high up .?
May be the end of the plane trip could be a jump with a tandem parachute and land in one of the poor area which surround the site and ask people of the area their though and feeling of the last three hours of their life.
And you could record all the trip with a camera and a video recorder?
( my first though was to fly over the site paragliding but as I am a paraglider I know it would be risky to do that and probably forbidden by the security of the site.)
Hope this does’nt sound too crazy. But you do crazy thing and I like it carry on.
Furthest Distance Proposal.
‘From one place to the other’
Distance: how far one object is from another, the area of separation, the space one has to cross: The Olympic track, the start line, the finish line.
The measure of time against space run, thrown, jumped, launched, twisted and spun.
It is an interesting concept, to formalise a ‘game’ in which the objective is to escape one’s immediate surroundings in the quickest time, a body pumped with adrenaline fleeing the place at which they start for the place at which they finish.
I realise that this is not always purpose of the games, that there are other goals and intensions within each sport, but it has always struck me, as the spectator, that I am watching people essentially running away.
Distance is treated with the greatest respect within the games, seconds are collected, even split to form parts of seconds, everything is counted.
Distance travelled = the time taken to cover space; multiplied by the speed it takes to get there. It constitutes the entire athlete’s journey, every footfall, every inhalation of breath.
I propose that the furthest distance from the Olympic Games is at the end of every athlete’s journey. I propose collecting the winning distance from every sport within the Games. The furthest Shot Put thrown, Javelin launched, each cycle track, running track and swimming distance collected and in the case of team sports the average distance covered from a team member must be found and recorded. As the 2012 Games have not yet started all distances must be collected from the previous games in Beijing.
When all the distances from the Olympics have been collected and added together they will form a singular distance representative of the Games, the distance will also become a journey: From one place to the other.
My proposal is to start at the very centre of the 2012 Olympic site, wherever that is deemed to be, and to go this distance away from the games, at a time when people will be rushing toward the epicentre of the Olympics, I propose that you take whatever means to cover this distance to its end point.
As opposed to the games where destinations and speed are essential, this journey is only focused on the distance, with no fixed point of ending and no time restriction. The journey can be made by any means, on foot, by bus or train, perhaps a lift in someone’s car. I propose the artist being a flanour, ‘a person who walks in order to experience it’ This is a journey of the Olympics, the end of it will be the furthest distance from the games.
When this distance is achieved, a line must be drawn across the floor, to mark the finish point.