Entries from June 2015
Image by Darkam
‘The slaughterhouse is linked to religion in so far as the temples of bygone eras … served two purposes: they were used both for prayer and for killing. The result … was certainly a disturbing convergence of the mysteries of myth and the ominous grandeur typical of those places in which blood flows. … In our time, the slaughterhouse is cursed and quarantined like a plague-ridden ship. Now, the victims of this curse are neither butchers nor beasts, but those same good folk who countenance, … only their own unseemliness, an unseemliness commensurate with an unhealthy need of cleanliness, with irascible meanness, and boredom.’
Georges Bataille (1)
In 1999, in the shadow of the approaching millennium, a disused abattoir on Waterden Road in Hackney Wick was squatted and used over an extended period as a venue for free parties. The adjacent property was a large warehouse, which had been converted to an Evangelist Church. The area, which has now been demolished to make way for the London 2012 Olympic development, was a crumbling industrial wasteland contained by motorways, railways and waterways; there was little through traffic. Waterden road was made up of various warehouses, a nightclub, a bus depot, and a site which had been home to a community of travellers for over thirty years. Next to the Church stood the former Hackney Wick dog/speedway stadium, falling into dereliction. Every Sunday, the stadium car park came alive as an ad hoc market, where people came to trade all manner of goods, many rumoured to be of dubiously legal origins. The area had a liminal feel, as if thrown together, with premises that were in decline being put to unexpected uses. Hackney psychogeographer Iain Sinclair describes this lost street as ‘the very essence of edgelands’ (2).
This juxtaposition of church and abattoir falls short of the convergence of prayer and killing that Bataille identifies in archaic temples. But together these accidental neighbours form a disjointed figure through which to explore relations to death in contemporary society. I visit this landscape to set the scene for a short detour through and beyond Bataille’s thinking on ecstasy and the sacred in order to approach another matter: the experience of community. I argue that those free parties created an environment in which the experience of being-with-others had a particular intensity which can be understood as religious, but that this religiosity differs from that of the church. As I explore the edgelands, I will show that to think community is to inhabit a space of limits: the limits of the subject, of representation, and of the city. As such, the spatiality of social relations is connected to architecture. [Read more →]
19-06-2015 – Praxis and Concrete Cosmos present Aural Extremisms at K9, Kinzigstr. 9, 10247 Berlin.
Talks and Screenings from 8pm: Introduction by Christoph Fringeli on current Datacide Projects and 23 years of Praxis.
Screening of “Nothing Essential Happens in the Abscence of Noise” Praxis Records documentary by Silvia Biagioni (screening starts 9pm).
DJ Controlled Weirdness: “Journeys in the Naked City – A Psychogeography of Dancing in the 1980s and early 90s” (talk) & discussion.
From 11pm: Live & DJ sets by DJ Controlled Weirdness, Nemeton, Darkam, D!NAM!K, Destrooy aka Dubdub, Ari Nev, Aekre. Visuals by Sansculotte.
‘They hate us, we hate them’ (1)
Resisting police corruption and violence in Hackney in the 1980s and 1990s (2)
‘The community hated us and we hated them. It wasn’t a black thing. It wasn’t as complex as that. If you went out in uniform or plain clothes you could feel the hatred’.
Detective Constable Declan Costello (3).
‘The officers involved in these atrocities can do this because they are not accountable to anybody. They cover up their crimes by picking on the weak – unemployed and uneducated people who do not have any knowledge of the law. There are no rights for black people, and if you are poor it’s worse; as far as the law is concerned you have no place in society. You are a dog; when they kick you, you move’.
Hugh Prince, victim of Hackney police (4).
Hackney is a borough in the North East of London which will be familiar to Datacide readers as the birthplace of both Industrial music (via Throbbing Gristle, based near London Fields) and Jungle (more contentiously via Shut Up and Dance, who grew up in Clapton). The background to the development of these two musical genres includes the cheap housing which attracted both bohemians and West Indian immigrants to the district from the 1950s onwards.
It is easy to mythologise Hackney. I certainly used to. Reading fanzines like Vague in my home county’s bedroom in the 1980s conjured up vistas of squats and social centres inhabited by occultists, anarchists, artists and deviants – all of which was immensely attractive to a sheltered teenager. And whilst later I found there was some truth to my fantasies, the majority of the borough was of course composed of working class people living characteristically hard lives – the squats were only possible because of a crumbling infrastructure and a local council that was either indifferent or overstretched.
Moving to North London revealed the murky underside of Hackney and the story of ordinary people attempting to resist it, which was far from glamorous but perhaps all the more inspiring because of that. Like a lot of inner city areas, Hackney residents had particular difficulties with the police. But what is interesting about this case is the scale of police wrongdoing, and the community’s responses to it.
In November 1982 (5), Hackney Black People’s Association demanded an independent public enquiry into the conduct of the police in Hackney. Their concerns were specifically about corruption, and violence against black people (6). These concerns were widespread at the time but would soon intensify in a fairly horrible way.
Who Killed Colin Roach?
Colin Roach died of a gunshot wound he received in the foyer of Stoke Newington police station on the 12th of January, 1983. He was a 21-year-old black man. The precise time of death was never established, but it was between 11:30 and midnight.
Colin’s father James arrived at the police station, looking for his son at 12:15 pm. The front doors were taped off as a crime scene, so he was taken to the rear of the station and lead to a room upstairs. Mr Roach was questioned until 2:45 am before the police revealed that his son was dead. James Roach was held at the station until 4:45 am and was not permitted to see Colin’s body. [Read more →]