strange empire

Strange Empire of Mr CAR GIANT

The latest exploration has taken Steve and I to the no man’s land which is in fact a huge supermarket area (in NW10) owned by the mysterious Car Giant boss Geoffrey Warren, and which in 2015 has been valued at £300 million.

We are particularly interested in this kingdom as it is here where the masterplan for a huge Old Oak regeneration has originated from. Few years on from the first signs of changes to come (https://www.standard.co.uk/business/cargiant-heads-for-record-50-million-profit-as-it-plans-new-5-billion-district-a3115536.html), we now know that this twilight industrial zone will soon be transformed beyond recognition, its quirks and idiosyncrasies poured over by concrete and glass, all marks of its previous history erased like some shameful memory.

Steve and I have taken it on ourselves to capture this straight forward, plainly utilitarian kingdom, which has expanded organically, with no sense of design or aesthetics governing its unruly growth, spreading according to its needs, messy and free in its expression, full of signs and symbols: instructions, prohibitions, warnings!

Like two archeologists on a field trip (with secret cameras tracing your every move), we study the layers, finding evidence of older worlds seeping through. There are utopian visions of meadows and happy families, as well as advertising images depicting ideal homes, with marks of disintegration reminding us there is another reality behind the front, where poverty and pollution threatens to spoil our thinly painted illusions.

But these are not just past worlds depicted here, they are also prophesies, visions on walls predicting their own future demolitions, at the hands of the developers.

And there are also other signs from non-human worlds here, like when we stop and examine, in close detail, the microcosms of sprouting vegetations, little forests of fauna and flora, revealing themselves when we look extremely close. They may be in minority now, but given the slightest chance, they would soon establish their own ruling order here.

I hope that the images I offer here carry the evidence of my words. And if you study them close enough, you might even begin to discern other stories and patterns, like the thread of red that creeps in a little later, narrating its own abstract story of warnings, threats and creative subversions, with Steve’s red trousers playing their own part in this conspiracy.

Tereza Stehlikova, August 2018

Stills from a film by tereza stehlikova 2018

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