The Greatest Possible Distance

DISCLAIMER: Neville Gabie was Artist in residence for the Olympic Delivery Authority during the construction of the Olympic Park from September 2010 – December 2011. This project is entirely self-generated and is not part of that commission.
Neville Gabie has very deliberately chosen not to seek any financial support from either private or public funds to realise the ambitions of this work.


At precisely 7.30 – 10.30PM [British Summer Time] on July 27th 2012, the moment of the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympic Games, Neville Gabie intends to be as far away as possible.

He is inviting you to write his brief and would like you to identify what in your opinion is ‘the greatest possible distance’ from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and why.

Why would you do such a thing?

The Olympic Games are coming – ‘you’re part of it’. Over several years the hype and rhetoric has intensified, burying every objection, every local or national concern under the weight of its own self belief and the requirement that regardless, it will be a success. ‘The Peoples Park – The People’s Games’ are the mantra but do they obscure a more honest assessment? Who really controls the Games, who really stands to benefit? Are the Olympics really anything to do with the promotion of sport, health and wellbeing, or is sport merely the foil for Corporate sponsors, the IOC and media companies to fill their pockets and for national government to spend our money for their edification?

Beneath the gloss, how much of what we now see as the modern Olympic Games, fulfils the founding aspirations of Pierre de Coubertin. Has sport simply sold itself to the highest bidder, politics regeneration and the corporate giants? Can the Olympic Games be a catalyst for regeneration – the legacy?

Inclusivity and participation are much used terms in relation to the Olympics. What exactly is meant those terms?

Measuring distance

The opening ceremony is the rallying call to all participants. It is a ceremony designed to celebrate international participation. As a means of questioning this conceit it is at that moment Neville Gabie proposes to chart the greatest distance.

Distance could most obviously be thought of as a physical distance of miles, of remoteness and of silence; a desert, somewhere on the ocean, a mountaintop, counterpoints to the intense media focus of the ceremony itself.

However, a social or economic distance might be as valuable a gauge. The Olympic Park is located in some of the poorer areas of the UK with a very diverse ethnic community, not all engaged with the concept of the Olympics, or likely to benefit.

Just within East London it is easy enough to see how aspirations of inclusivity, the ‘you’re part of it’ mantra can seem hollow. Within a world context that gap is even greater. What would it be like to experience the moment of the Opening Ceremony from Somalia, Afghanistan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia or Canning Town? What would it mean there?

What we are asking from you

Neville Gabie is inviting anyone to nominate a destination or location which might be thought of as ‘the greatest possible distance.’ and explain your reasoning.

You may be as specific about the final destination and the means by which he is to get there as you wish.

You may also suggest how he should record or document the hours of the ceremony at your specified destination.

Based on the responses he will endeavour to travel to whatever is deemed to be the most distant / disconnected place selected, following your scripted direction as closely as possible.

The final choice of that destination will be made by an independent panel of artists, cultural thinkers, members of the East London Community in discussion with Neville Gabie. This will take place on 8th June.

The debate leading to the final selection will be integral to the body of work. It will determine what is ’the greatest possible distance’.

All correspondence and suggestions will be collated and published as part of this project.

By submitting a suggestion you will need to agree your material may be published as part of the project, however it is up to you if you wish to have your name attached to your contribution.

What Neville Gabie commits to do

Neville Gabie will allow up to a month to reach the destination and will get there by which ever means are suggested. It might be by foot, cycle, boat, air or any other means.

The only stipulation, that it can be achieved with a material budget [ie; travel costs, travel equipment / excluding his time] not exceeding £1000.

At precisely 9pm British Summer time on 27th July 2012 and for a period of three hours he will make, document or record his location as a counterpoint to the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Neville Gabie also commits to exhibit the resulting work within one year of the event.

How to submit your suggestion

Please email:

Or post:
Neville Gabie
Toadsmoor Mill
Glos gl5 2uh

The final deadline for any submissions is 31st May 2012

For further background see


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