Opening Meet Friday 12th November 2004, 6.30-9pm, All welcome.
SLOAPsolutions’ latest project. “Welcome to The Hot Scent Experience” proposes the staging of that most embattled of country pursuits – a fox hunt – in the streets around the Space Station Sixty-Five gallery in Dulwich.
The rural life has proved an enduring paradigm for the successive urban reform movements that have sought to shape the European City in the wake of industrialisation. From Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City through Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse to the Urban Village ideal supported by the ODPM in Britain today, the attractions of country living have repeatedly been promoted as a means of curing the city’s ills. Too often, however, these solutions have traded on the imagery of the countryside while sharing little of its libertarian promise.
SLOAPsolutions’ latest project seeks to address that failure. Welcome to The Hot Scent Experience proposes the staging of that most embattled of country pursuits – a fox hunt – in the streets around the Space Station Sixty-Five gallery in Dulwich. To date, work has concentrated on two areas of investigation. First, a survey of local fox sightings has been translated into a map of the animals’ habitat and movement. Secondly, a pack has been recruited from dogs living in the vicinity of the gallery. Each candidate has been judged against such criteria as hearing, confi dence, willfulness, power, tail oscillation and melodiousness of bark: terms of assessment set out in the literature of the British Bloodhound Breeders’ Association.
The new exhibition presents the findings of a feasibility study into the logistics of holding the hunt, compiled with a view to securing permission for the event from the local council. The study sets out how the hunt will generate a number of social benefi ts. Systems of self-organisation will ensue, offering new means of combating social exclusion. It is proposed that the hunt might extend into the gardens and houses of local residents. Consequently, the public realm will be substantially expanded and the community drawn into a valuable process of negotiation and self-government.
SLOAPsolutions takes its name from the acronym Spaces Left Over After Planning employed in the Urban Task Force’s 1999 report ‘Towards an Urban Renaissance’. Under a chapter entitled ‘Achieving Urban Integration’ SLOAPs are identified as ‘soulless, undefi ned places, poorly landscaped with no relationship to surrounding buildings…The key task in these areas is to reconfigure public space so that all parts of the public realm contribute towards achieving a high-quality environment.’
SLOAPsolutions’ work offers a critique of the authoritarian impulse behind such urban thinking. ‘Welcome to the Hot Scent Experience’ proposes that the remaining SLOAP environments in Dulwich might be maintained as breeding grounds for foxes. The local community has enthusiastically supported the proposal. It can surely be no coincidence that despite the best efforts of the supporters of the Urban Renaissance agenda, 352,000 more people have moved to England’s rural areas in the last four years than have left them.
Ellis Woodman is an architect and critic. He teaches architecture at the University of East London and is Buildings Editor of Building Design magazine.
Katharina Heilein lives and works in London. Since graduating from Goldsmiths College in 2002, she has exhibited in Prague, Dresden, Berlin and London. For more information see www.sloapsolutions.com.
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