We read about your project THE GREATEST POSSIBLE DISTANCE (from the opening of the Olympic Games) in a local South African paper, BEELD of17 May 2012.

Hereby then our contribution.

The fictional character Liewe Heksie (meaning dear little witch) is a popular children’s book series written in the Afrikaans ( a minority group in South Africa) language.

Liewe Heksie is a little heroine in the minds of children and a worthy role-model through her unspoiled character and gentleness. She is the only witch in a flower utopia and loved by all despite her lack of magical skills and forgetfulness which leads to frightfully funny situations. Liewe Heksie lives in Blommeland (flower country) where the floral beauty is protected by a silver rose which is guarded in a palace where a king also resides.

Other characters include elves, flower-friends, fairies and animals. She and her tiny cat lives in a house with a star-filled kitchen due to the fact that she removed the pumpkins that kept the corrugated iron roof down. The roof was replaced with an skylight in order for her to see the stars. This star-filled kitchen is the suggested place to be during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. Her kitchen speaks of moderation and will be warmed by a small fire since it is winter in South Africa in July.

The conversation will be funny and of local nature and will have nothing to do with global events as she is blissfully oblivious to it. The atmosphere will be relaxed and unpretentious because that is her very nature. The inhabitants of Blommeland are under no pressure to achieve in sport. This is in contrast with the Olympic Games where children are robbed of their childhood in the name of sport, medals and money. Her kitchen will provide emotional remoteness, silence and distance from the extravagant opening ceremony.


Elna Venter and Marna de Wet


David Lillington


Hi Neville


The project I propose for you is one that I’m exploring and could be a pilot for my research and wondered how you might respond to it in light of your proposal The Greatest Possible Distance.

I live a stone throw away from the Olympic Park, Leyton side, with looming towers of social housing?? dominating the landscape. I have not been successful in getting any tickets to the Olympics, and will not have the opportunity to go beyond the green wall (the barrier that once was), however it all feels familiar as images/news from inside are conveyed to the masses.

IMAGINE_LEARNING FROM THE ASCENSION ISLAND explores the concerns of the dialectic relationship between art and site, and the interdisciplinary concerns of the terms of engagement, and the modes of communication.

IMAGINE_LEARNING FROM THE ASCENSION ISLAND investigates alternative strategies for curating and for the presentation of work, as did the conceptual artists of the 60s and 70s by exploring art outside the gallery context to find ʻnew networks and means of disseminationʼ. IMAGINE_fictitious in nature exploits what Marshall McLuhan described in the 1960s as ʻa mediatised exchange system of information and imagesʼ.

The inspiration for the project is the Ascension Island a sovereignty of the British Crown, an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean – an unlikely destination for art goers – but who needs to go if you were to tap into the main industry of the island – communication. (In 1821 the Ascension Island became a victualling station and sanatorium for ships engaged in the suppression of the slave trade around the West African coast. Until recently Ascension Island was a main relay point of the coaxial submarine cable system laid between the United Kingdom, Portugal and South Africa with links to South America and West Africa. Other services operating on the Island include Cable and Wireless (previously known as the Eastern Telegraph Company) international satellite telecommunications service, the BBC Atlantic Relay Station, as well as hosts five ground antennas that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) navigational system.)

Neville, I would like you to travel to the Ascension Island (Military of Defence permissions required) to make a work whereby for the three hours of the opening ceremony the screen is the window and the web is the tool to experience and engage in the work thought the likes of google, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Chatroulette, YouTube, Second Life and ebay.




I think the ‘greatest distance’ must be metaphorical. I worry that to take yourself a literal distance away from the opening of the Olympic Games has the potential to be seen as arrogant when you’ve been so involved. Rather, I would like to see you try do something for those you identify as being adversely affected by London 2012 and its legacy.

As the opening ceremony begins with the arrival of the torch relay (from Greece and representing the Olympic Spirit), I propose that at the moment the flame is lit, you facilitate an alternative torch relay symbolising the ‘real’ spirit and legacy of the event.

The flame will be created by those identified as being dispossessed or disillusioned by the coming of the Olympics, whether through being moved from their houses, unable to get tickets or having to change the name of their shop. You will design an event whereby the dispossessed share their experiences before creating a flame which is carried, either by relay or as a group, to a predetermined destination where it will be symbolically presented/returned to the IOC.

The alternative torch relay will be documented through film, photography and the collecting of testimonies of the disposessed, the £1000 to be spent on event costs and publication.



Dear Neville,

The antipodian location would be 51S 179E give or take a few sea miles. If you set off from Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand you should head off in a South Easterly direction and sail or fly out about 700kms.



Dear Neville,

Please find below Oli’s and my response to your call for ideas:

Oliver: The Olympic machine tries to absorb everything of human and cultural value that it can. Sport, art, entertainment, ethics, politics, infrastructure and regeneration, civic duty, international relations, democracy, world peace, commerce and philosophy – the Olympics has a finger in every pie. It just sucks it all up into a vortex. It is difficult to think of a physical or philosophical space beyond its reach. To find and occupy that space would be to get as far away from the Olympics as possible.

Jess: The core of the Olympics is the celebration of human physicality, or physical ability, as a means of achieving super-human, near-godlike status. Mount Olympus was the seat of the gods. The Olympic torch represents the heavenly power stolen by Prometheus – a human victory over the gods, unlocking human potential. Through great feats of athleticism, Olympians
reach into a celestial, divine space. But over the past century, we have become more aware of physical human potential having been overtaken by technology. Technological prosthetics have helped man orbit the Earth and walk on the Moon.  ‘Super-human’ has given way to ‘meta-human’, and the revelation that human potential is greater when combined with science and technology, which has somehow perhaps subverted our own understanding of our physicality as a species. In other words, the Olympics is all about
maxing out our human potential, but it tries to ignore the fact that we can go beyond human potential through technology. Like video-games and virtual worlds that enable us to remain relatively still physically, and simultaneously active and productive.

Oliver: The symbolism is blurred because Prometheus was arguably stealing a piece of technology, but I guess that’s the point – the modern Olympics is no longer a strong reflection of the Promethean ideal.

Jess: The notion of celestial space is key. Writing on the human condition, Hannah Arendt described the immediate reaction to the moon landing as one of relief, in the sense that humans could finally escape ’imprisonment to the earth’.  That sense of going beyond the earth and reaching into a celestial space is a sentiment underlying the Olympics, but the advance of technology is making, or has made, that sentiment increasingly symbolic. It is this fracture between the ideals reflected in the aesthetics and
physical challenges of the Olympics, and what we now know is possible, that seems to offer an outside perspective on the Games. This shift in perception might perhaps call into question the philosophical foundations and motivations of the Olympics.

Therefore, to be the furthest from the Olympics, I imagine a space, whether real or virtual, just beyond the reaches of human strength and physicality.  Obviously, the idea of space immediately conjures up ideas of physical remoteness, but it is the philosophical significance of space travel that is interesting. I imagine an artwork that engages directly with the duality of this metaphorical and physical distance. My proposal for the ‘furthest distance from the Olympics’ is to go to the NASA Goddard Space
Centre in the USA ( HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank”tp:// (or alternatively, the UK Space centre in Swindon!!) and, at the start of each
of the first event on each day of the Olympics, document the position of ‘Voyager 1’- the furthest satellite from Earth. It might also be interesting to record dialogues with both an aeronautical engineer and, separately, an athlete, about human potentiality and development, and the relationship between physical capabilities and technology.

Oliver: I don’t feel that I want to use the traditional Olympic ideal as a springboard to determine the furthest place from the Olympics. If the actual Olympics aren’t going to pay much attention to it, why should I? I’m more taken by this idea of the Olympics as a black hole of meaning, sucking all of human experience and value into it and belching it out. What are the things that even the Olympic machine wouldn’t try to co-opt? Could you spend the Olympic opening ceremony at a terrorist training camp? Or doing something morally good but not easily absorbed into a brand strategy, like helping to rehabilitate pedophiles? Distributing  contraceptives to sex workers?

All the best,



At the now defunct airfield outside Richmond (in the Great Karoo desert, Northern Cape Province, South Africa) you will find the remnants of the old ‘airport control building’ – a ruin that consists of three and a half walls; there is no roof left, no door, no windows, just bricks and crumbling plaster. Here you will find no people, no noise, no technology and no hint of the Olympics. There is a solitary chair painted against one wall. If you seat yourself here during the day you will see only blue skies above. If you seat yourself here during the night you will see only starry skies.

There is no need to reserve the seat because nobody comes here anymore; just wild animals, birds, insects, perhaps a lonely lamb.

Even if you can not make it here, just imagine that you occupy the chair on the wall from wherever you are.




Don’t use the budget travelling far, learn argentine tango, it’s the ultimate escape to distance yourself form daily life, because you live in the moment of the 3 mins of the song just you and your partner in a collective experience with the dancers in the room….it’s hard to master, it awakens your brain and body to new experiences, its very addictive…….

Come along to tango south London TSL and learn salon tango from (imho the best in london, excellent teachers) Claire and Louis. Tom and I have been dancing at TSL for 6 years and it’s our physical and mental escape to another place, another culture and in many ways another time but paradoxically our way of appreciating and living in the moment.

Best wishes Kate



Hi Neville,

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

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



Dear Neville,

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?

all best,



Dear Neville
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


Hi Neville,

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.

All best



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.

Take care,


Hello Neville,

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.

Good luck

Best wishes



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.


Latest suggestions and last calls for proposals!

‘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.

The team:

Kate Co-Director

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.


Dear Neville,

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).


Suggestion from Dan Perjovschi

Dear Neville

I think is not the physical distance who matters. It is about really doing and thinking something else in that precise moment. I suggest you watching an action movie with headphones on, light out, i-phone shut down. Or a comedy. Or listen to a music (headphones on) and reading a novel. Or even better make love while they all parade nationally.

By doing this and ignoring the planetary event you will put the maximum distance between you and “the event” and don’t it occupy your life.

About how to show lovemaking in the gallery, you just can have an audio….either just voices of the couple making love or if you want to be more ironic voices of the couple making love and in the back barely heard a tv with the live coverage of the opening..

Dan Perjovschi



Latest suggestions and submissions 21 May

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


Wonderful project!

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, 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
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.


Proposal by Kypros Kyprianou

Hi Neville,

a colleague passed on your proposal to what could possibly be your marathon endeavour.

My initial reaction, having followed the feverish anticipation (for some) of the Olympics in London, and having read the initial ‘Olympicism’ report by Pierre de Coubertin (which contains nuggets of equality, the betterment of humanity, the spirit of co-operation, and even some of the initial ancient Olympian ideas that include no weaponry and a cessation of hostilities between warring parties), I’d suggest that you should spend your £1000 visiting any shop that has Olympic in its title.

You could focus specifically on kebab houses, but obviously it’s up to you.

These may be some that have had a visit by the Olympiad junta (the stasi-like trading standards offshoot protecting brand identity), though I believe much of that was hot air. The nearest place to me is the Olympic Kebab on Tulse Hill whose proprietor is very friendly and wouldbe a great person to interview.

Of course, one might have to call your greatest possible distance marathon something that doesn’t offend Locog, especially if you want to do live documentation of your trip on any social networking sites – as in this snippet taken from an article about Locog…

Crowd members don’t …

• Upload a clip of William and Kate tripping up the steps of the Olympic stadium to Youtube: “A Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet.”

• Post your pictures to Facebook – this may fall under the same restriction.

• Take part in an ambush marketing stunt, “including, for the avoidance of doubt individual or group ambush marketing”.

I’m not sure how they close down that public arena, but it will evidently be part of the whole circus coming to town feel of the thing.

Anyway, that’s my two penneth worth. Good luck

Kypros Kyprianou