Archive | April 2015

New Prints Available

Big thanks to photographer Rory Garforth for taking some print-quality images of my drawings Feverish and Whilst We Were in The Eternal Now…, two works that I spent the latter half of 2014 working on.

Whilst We Were in The Eternal Now…

Whilst We Were In The Eternal Now... close up 2 close up

Feverish

Feverish close 1 John 1 - Copy

Stories From Forgotten Space (March/April)

Stories From Forgotten Space builds on 2014 Mapmaking with the aim of taking the most prominent features of the project a little further.

The previous section of Stories from Forgotten Space can be found here:

https://johnledger.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/stories-from-forgotten-space-january/

https://johnledger.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/stories-from-forgotten-space-march/

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28 March 2015

65“2 miles north of Wakefield centre. Cutting under a bridge. There is a Large Yorkshire flag planted in somebody’s garden as close to the mainline railway track as possible. The railway represents the gaze of the world passing by. I see more patriotically-placed flags close to railway tracks than anywhere else.”

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“The future, now drab. Stare out onto the M62 motorway from the bridge. I’m listening to Autobahn by Kraftwerk, with an hyper-realist album cover (always in mind, when listening to the album), and a Utopianist outlook on the still-then-new motorway systems. In this world we now have , when motorways are supersaturated into the netting of everyday life, their beauty is there still, yet it is inaccessible – whilst trapped in a series of systems that are threatening to destroy us.”

66 67 68“A view of central Leeds from inside the large housing estate of Middleton. The Blade-Runner-made-real-by-Dubai effect of Bridgewater Place (specifically) juxtaposed with the style of redbrick houses council houses my grandparents, and their contemporaries, both raised our parents and dragged their parents into from the Victorian slums, creates two opposing worlds. A world of superclass and underclass, of sci-fi dog-eat-dog-dystopia actualised, contrasting with the post war working class life of mild frustration, old religious ornaments (clinging on in a Brave New World), soggy crackers and hard bread. Still inhabited houses, occupied by proud owners seem to jolt into a reality that they have been told they don’t belong in. The popular music from the 60’s/70’s/80’s still seems to echo off the buildings constituting these estates, but nothing post 2000.”

69“In Quality Save in the Merrion Centre, Leeds, now a low-budget shopping centre, pushed as far from the train station as possible. The stress is always far more tangible in these shops, the children cry with a harshness and duration not witnessed in the shops further down towards the upmarket end. It is too much for my dehydrated, weekend-discontented self to deal with, and I have to drop my intended purchases and swap this ‘contained’ noise for the open-air noise of the roads outside.”

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“Two men and a woman, in low-budget clothing, and drenched from the afternoon downpour (the poor never manage to evade the rain), walk down the road that divides the older working class part of central Leeds, the open air market and bus station, with the newer promotional images of glamour, posted up on the boards circumventing the construction of an high-end-consumer complex, which aims to be an appendage to the bastion-of-arrogance The Victoria Quarter – an enclave of very high end consumables, just across the road. I feel a violence from being sandwiched between a life of poverty that nobody desires, and 6 foot photographs of ‘chiselled’ and vibrant representatives of a world that shows no empathy to a hard life that wears away the such ‘modelling’ looks.”

69a 70“I walk up a side street towards Westgate in Wakefield centre, containing Mexican/Latin-themed bars/eateries. Whenever I see enclaves made for social occasions, my body throws out an instantly-vapourising excitement. It is a perpetually-frustrated excitement, borne out of factors (such as the promises, and a loneliness) specific to our times, due to a potential for social space that I neither ever tap into, or lacks the ability to be tapped into due to being nothing other than an image of socialising.”
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April 4 2015

71“Walking down Smyth Street, Wakefield city centre. There is a poster on the side of a club for an upcoming Heaven 17 gig – a group known for their ‘Temptation’ track. But that was well over 30 years ago. Something so distant, made near again through comeback tours. But it still feels distant, like it doesn’t belong here now, but is here nonetheless due to the void in genuine cultural production.”

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“On Ings Road dual carriageway. Under a railway bridge that looks older than everything else on the road, a Sainsburys delivery van drives past me. I can just about make out that somebody has appropriated a phrase made popular after the terrorist killing of the French cartoonist/satirist Charlie Hebdo, (earlier this year) to write ‘Je Suis Clarkson’ in the dirt on the back of the van, seemingly in support of the plight of recently sacked BBC presenter/bully Jeremy Clarkson. The irony in using the words for Jeremy Clarkson, however, is possibly lost on the writer. As both are/were indeed alike in respect of their (arguably) one-dimensional idea of freedom of speech. It is arguable that both had aimed their “I-can-say-what-I-want/Attack-who-I want” jibes at those in weaker, less powerful positions than themselves.”

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“A gang of young people have a air of brashness with the entrance into Wakefield bus station – the lurching search for amusement. I walk past them with the intention of exiting the bus station, but turn back on myself in usual Saturday afternoon indecisiveness. Shouts come from behind me. I notice a young male, who turns out to be some sort of ring-leader of the group, who’s hybrid style of urban/street with indie-boy surprises me, still surprised, as I am, by such hybrids in our super-saturated times. He keeps advancing towards a dishevelled-looking man, who looks to have a mixture of alcohol addiction, financial, and learning problems; 3 issues that act as weakness in a bullying culture that this young, confident man, seems happy to exploit in order to amuse his gang. The dishevelled man responds exactly how the gang wishes him to respond by lashing out manically at the young man, in the process exposing the distress that the situation is causing him. The young man capitalises on every sign of vulnerability-viewed-as-weakness to escalate the spectacle. Everybody in the bus station is staring, including myself. I look around to see if any security or police are knocking around – on the few times you wish they were every where – but there are none to be seen. And surely the police would see me as wasting their time? After all no ‘real’ harm is being done, is it? The bullies win – as they always do when the vulnerable are no longer seen as vulnerable, but as losers. And bullying is so saturated into our society, via an emphasis on competition that oozes from screens, and creeps into work places.”

72 73“How can you feel anything but loss walking through the tree-lined suburbs (St John’s area of Wakefield)? ‘We’re all middle class now’ – more faded than any sun-bleached abandoned billboard can ever be. Of course these undead desires of a leafy, suburban, fresh-veg-eating lifestyle still appeal to me; I was at the ripe age in the 1990’s to be saturated with them, believing that it was both totally desirable, to the point where a 2.4 children, ‘happy ending’ seemed inevitable. Not any more. And I feel ashamed it still clings to me.”

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“A gymnasium offering 24 hour access on the corner of Trinity Walk. Work never ends now. The allure of (the appearance of) productivity, of an enviable, toned, professional and industrious subjectivity is very strong, stronger by the day. But where is the room for life anymore? For happenings, chance encounters?”

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“Michael speaks of how the non-place nature of the private/public space of Trinity Walk doesn’t quite work for him, due to its usage of previously-existing streets that he remembers from childhood, making for an odd experience where the zero-gravity effect of pure simulacrum-consumption suddenly becomes grounded in a very specific space.”

74 758 April 2015

76After traveling on this road for the first time in 3 weeks (that’s a long time for me not to be in Barnsley) the ‘old girls’ school’, now a compound of mildly-desirable apartments, strikes me as a stand out feature on this very leafy, suburban entrance into a town that still conjures images of ugly, northern grittiness in the minds of the rest of the country. But this leafy avenue is to nowhere, as the town in anticipates is somewhat absent. And it is to the frustration of a ‘native’ of the scattered former coal mining empire that clusters around Barnsley centre. A constant hope for a town centre that offers something. But momentum always fades, and it now seems to have died back more than any time in living memory. To the extent that the suburbs may have lost their entire purpose to Leeds/Sheffield commuter settlements. This entrance is one of those that suggests something that seems to be forever displaced.”

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“Sat in chain cafe talking to Dave, 6pm/post-work, only non-alcohol-orientated place open at this time. We are in agreement, that out-and-out revolution just wouldn’t work right now, and we need to get back to a building a socially-progressive structure that can look to a future again. We are sat behind a group of teenage girls. I become aware of the inherently-pretentious-sounding nature of such a conversation, especially within a chain cafe. But their repetitive glances away from their friends are fortunately (or unfortunately) towards their phone screens and my presumed accusation of “trying to sound all clever” is proven to be false. But there again I’ve only ever had such an accusation from older generations. I begin thinking of how the possibly-intentional misconception of what it means to be ‘grown up’ in our culture usually means to become more conservative and to move away from once-held ideals. We mock straight-outta-college young people for acclaiming that “the revolution is coming”, aware of the relentless tide of disappointments awaiting them that will wear this out. But the problem is in our possibly-intentional conflation of idealism with naivety. Older people can still remain true to their ideals for a better world, a long time after their naïve expectations of the immanence of revolution are worn away. They can do this without becoming resigned to ‘the way of the world’ once they accumulate a few small comforts they don’t want to part with.”

77“Post 6pm Peel Square/Peel Street. Never seen so many semi-destitute/semi-destroyed lives anaesthetised by drink. On the corner of Peel Square and Market Hill two men crouch over an electricity box, seemingly impatiently trying to see what’s revealed on a scratch-card. As we walk up Peel Street two men struggle to walk, so ‘out of it’ that I mistake their growling expressions as the beginnings of potential hostilities towards me and Dave. I look to my right, up the walkway ‘Dog Lane’, to see a drunken man set on the steps with his head in his hands. Yeah, it’s been a rare sunny week (to the which the UK seems to always respond by drinking), but this is a dead end getting closer and closer. It can’t go on.”

78“The tragedy of ‘Che Bar’. A night club, with that typical semi-derelict look during day time, which means you can never tell whether it has ceased trading or not, offering dead-end night-time pleasure-seeking on a street that (due to the premature cut off caused by the ring road) embodies a dead end. A smashed window with a Cuban flag behind it; but it’s the can of Stella that somebody has somehow managed to lob onto the lettering for ‘Che’ that strikes me and Dave as most tragically symbolic. Che Guevara, a left wing revolutionary. No one image embodies that which stands in the way of revolution/social change in contemporary times that a crate of Stella Artois.”

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9, 10 April 2015

79“ #I get so lonely, lonely, lonely. Got to be some good times ahead# – the Freddy Mercury dance song from yesteryear becomes haunting, and fitting, in this post-6pm, empty shopping mall [The Ridings, Wakefield]. A moment that acts as a metaphor for the wider feeling of being ‘stuck’. Aged 9, at the beginning of my life, this was one a few songs to be etched into my thinking that seemed to represent a perceived-ending of something. I become captive the song’s memory-reprising as I frantically root through my rucksack in vain for the camera I thought I’d packed. 9 years old, travelling between Cornish holiday destinations. With recently improved standard of living for the family, Cornwall looked so different from previous holiday destinations; it looked more like they did on the TV. 1993 – a new world seemed to beckon. But what else would I feel in the early 90’s? I caught the wave of cultural optimism telling me that poverty, war and misery had been eradicated by those good people from the century we were close to leav

.ing. This song: it felt like a closure of all of that – a waving goodbye. But it never went away, it just got stronger.”
“Unlike Barnsley (in fact, unlike any other town I can think of), Wakefield seems to have an active night-life throughout the week, as if it has been permitted to stay in the 90’s/early 00’s indefinitely. The bars are sometimes lacking any revellers, but even then they remain open, playing 90’s House music to nobody. It’s as if the night scene is like an old clock in an unoccupied building that chimes to itself right on time, every day, regardless.”

P1030299“The Tickets Officer approaches me as I enter Kirkgate station’s platforms. Their increasing presence closing in on those fluke times when you get a free ride – those little bits of luck that do much to take some of the weight of everything off your day. Not unfriendly, just non-friendly transactions – as they must always assume that we’re trying to ‘pull a fast one’ at such stations. Notice PMT/SML/PST (? – some abbreviating anyway) above Northern Rail on his staff name tag. A security firm subcontract, or joint venture – whatever it is it makes me queasy. But it’s not the officer’s fault. He hums a tune whilst we wait for the machine to print my ticket. Just like me, he’s trying to make ends meet. The relationship between vendor and customer may be constitutive of false bonds, but maybe they’re the only bonds now holding the entire social structure together, after 40-years-hate-your-neighbour has been drilled into us. I think how futile calls for immediate insurrection, anarchic alternatives are after 40 years of Thatcherism. “We’d tear each other apart – we’ve been bred to hate each other”. Any change surely has to begin with slow social transformation, before any high-end idealism could work – to help us not see each other purely as competitors for diminishing returns.”

80

“A long queue begins to form in the Poundland shop in Wakefield centre, as the cashier is way behind our contemporary demands for Internet-speed purchasing in the physical world. Nobody who has been emotionally hijacked in futility to prove themselves of worth in an entrepreneurial society can endure being in Poundland for too long. “Why can’t the cashier be faster/better? Why can’t I be faster/better?” What an harsh world we’ve made.”

“Approaching Darton railway station. This railway line (from Sheffield up to Leeds) could stand in for my entire adult life. And I increasingly have this feeling that it at least owes me something.”

81 82 (2)10 April 2015

“I pass 30 pence to an homeless woman on the road leading northwards from The Headrow towards the Universities. Homeless on street corners of UK cities so normal now it almost becomes assimilated into the simulcra of ‘city scene’. Not quite entirely though; the exhaustive sense of responsibility and potential vulnerability to homelessness it provokes in me cuts through all the Simulcra City that often eases us into our desire to shirk responsibility.”

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“Millennium Square [Leeds] empty of fun fares/winter festivals, open space freed up again. Breathable. The only real breathing space in the city – maybe there is down by the canal, but down there the constant barrage of kitted-up joggers provokes too much anxiety over one’s own ‘biopolitical value’. The paving stones of Millennium Square stretch into the horizon of seating areas constituting workers gearing up for their UKWeekend (the macho football-fan-like chanting erupting from one of the tables is too far way to bother me). A young girl takes advantage of the open space to ride her scooter up and down, in a simplistic manner that could momentarily strike you as a shard from our post-war past, in our current securitised, paranoid, surveillance state. Whilst I become mildly incensed over my inability to tell myself just what it is I find so wrong about the big screen replays of the highly skilled performers involved in the ‘Grande Departe 2014’ (the ranter within internally shouts “Jesters for Dystopia!), an homeless man, too honest for me to dispute any of his story, very politely asks me for money for food. But having given change to the homeless woman, and worrying over my own financial-capabilities to stand as tall as I can in this world, I refrain from giving him any change. I feel bad. What could I do? This isn’t breathing space at all. Breathing space doesn’t exist. I move on.”

8485“Walking past the high rise blocks of ‘luxury apartments’ along the canal-side. Man looks pleased with himself; enjoying the sun. Who can blame him? I want to. I want to blame something. Bad feelings building like nausea. So much choice, no fruition. Always barred entry. It isn’t choice though – always the same stale taste. A group of lads all suited-up. Maybe they work in the city. But all together. In unison. The lads away from home.”

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“Under the footbridge crossing the canal are the ragged remnants of somebody’s sleeping place. Still used or not – it’s hard to tell. It seems an odd place to choose, but if one is constantly moved on within the city streets, what choice is there? Like the ever-increasing visibility of homelessness on the streets, this again highlights the severity of it.”

8687 “Walking down the side of the canal (where the old Leeds/Liverpool canal ends). Sometimes everybody seems 6 foot; neoliberal perfection achieved in body-form. Jogging, laughing, they make me look like the 1980’s flotsam and jetsam washed up on the shore of the ‘Brave New 90’s’. Of course, this is just the gentrified city landscape, but this acknowledgement just makes it so much worse.”

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“As I walk this city alone, with every instance collapsing my efforts to be at ease into a now-default gritting of teeth/poker-face, I know in my heart of hearts that my loneliness is a political issue, bigger than me whom it is inflicted upon. Yet in words it will forever provoke its response of violin-strings-mimcry-mockery. My decision to buy a soft drink when I reach the pub, and finally managed to quench my thirst, lapses into a determined desire for an alcoholic drink.”

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11 April 2015

88“Barnsley central. I always like my home town at this time, within a 11:30AM – 1:30PM period; a short, vibrant energy that vanishes into fear-inducing zombie-pleasure-addiction (like all UK towns?) as the day descends into night. Unfortunately I was more of a captive participator in the latter – one of the reasons I felt It was wise to temporarily leave here, even if such instilled behavioural patterns follow me.”

89 90“As I walk toward the exit in a charity shop on Division Street (Sheffield), the Power Ballad CD playing in the shop sticks, repeating a one second point on the song over and over. It always takes us a moment to realise what has occurred. And why do we all smirk when we realise? Is it because such technical faults momentarily reveal the truth? That the ‘stuck record’ is the truth.”

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“As I look down the hill from West Street I notice a huge banner draped down the side of (what I thought still were) the BT offices. But such a banner surely states that they’re now being converted into student accommodation. The aspirationalism of it all (a word that would sound bizarre in association with student life even a decade ago) is an underlying given due to the “book now/don’t miss out” promise/warning. I would’ve never imagine that such an dominating block of offices within this city would eventually become student accommodation and once-again reminds me of what is big business now in this city. I would’ve never imagined myself thinking negatively of the expansion if universities/colleges within our towns/cities, but maybe I should have been careful of what I wished for. Education purely as business, driven by profit-making, with perpetual expansion is (dare I say it, as a Post-Grad?) beginning to have a parasitical impact on towns and cities rather than a positively-transformative force. It’s depressing, and needn’t be like this.”

91 91(a) 92

“I initially mistake a poster draped on the Winter Gardens “calling all city centre businesses” to use their postal ballot for a poster encouraging the local electorate to vote for the Green Party in the upcoming General Election. This is due to the largest words “Vote Yes” being incorporated into a large green circle. If my initial misreading is anything to go by, I hope many more passers-by do the same, and the poster becomes an accidental booster for Green Party support.”
“I exit a side street, to walk across the tram-lined road, down to the former-Castle Market area. As I gaze more at the city than ‘blindfully’ minding my own business, I am accosted by a beggar asking for loose change. I genuinely don’t have anything until I reach a cash machine further down. But I begin to wonder if a city laden with undisputed desperate denizens disables any attempt to experience it as a place to learn, and forces it to be an urban gauntlet where ‘blindfully’ minding one’s own business becomes a default measure that is hard to divert from.”

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“As I walk down towards Sheffield train station I begin to hear one of my least-liked sounds. Is the football-fan-like chanting/jeering the most indicative noise of the experiential-enclosure-affect of towns/cities over the UKWeekend? The potential of passive aggression , and the avoidance and discomfort of places, is largely absent during weekdays. Their search for a jeer-target lands on two young women, who look to have had their weekend’s fun already turned sour, with the men aiming the slur “plastic fantastic” at one of the women due to the dress she is wearing.”