loitering with intent to make manchester wonderful
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
archive #3 what is psychogeography
This is the introduction to Where are You? Manchesters First Accidental International Festival of Psychogeography. I've resisted the urge to edit or amend....
View subject to change but this is what we can see now. It’s a few hours before the festival starts so please excuse our poor grammar and giddy bewilderment
When I first heard the word psychogeography I had a wonderful turnaround moment of clarity, a little epiphany. It encompasses lots of things I’m fascinated by but I still find the best way to explain it to you is with a picture.
Names have such power – they give life and strength and meaning although that’s something different to everybody of course. But they limit too and it’s the same with maps – its hard not to be seduced by boundaries, Perhaps I like making maps because I’m useless at following them, A straight a-z misses out all the splendid wonkiness of life.
If you asked 20 people to draw a map of the basement they would all make something different and I bet none of them would resemble the ordinance survey or a fire plan.I’ve always loved aimless wandering and exploring, my favourite pastimes include catching random trains and finding secret passages across town and (best of all) watching urban wildlife… but hey! I’m not just an idler, I’m a flaneur and this is a derive… disorientation as experiment, play as an artistic statement…
The Loiterers Resistance Movement is about this and more. We got our name from Phaedra who was lamenting the lack of uncommercial public space in Manchester; she said having fun in Brisbane gives you a suntan but in Manchester all you get is as ASBO.
Sometimes it feels like its all about money and power in our post bomb nirvana. Every space has an advert on it and why is Canal Street the way it is? Why aren’t there any nurseries or greengrocers or haberdashers in the village? Who made gay a business opportunity? How does that make you feel and what if it’s meant to be your space but you don’t feel welcome?
But there’s still magick too if you want to find it.Did you know the grass mounds by Urbis are designed to make you want to play – but are deliberately to small to hide behind? I like that bit of town, all the kids making it their own territory. Legend has it there’s a medieval street somewhere underneath the triangle – its where the great Elizabethan alchemist John Dee lived when he was sort of banished to Manchester. I imagine his ghost finds the museums shiny glass surface an excellent scrying stone. (You can see the arse mark of a devil conjured by Mr Dee on a chair in Chethams but that is another story)
Anyway, I was thinking about all this on Sunday. We were taking pictures for the launch night quiz. The autumn light was glorious, everything was glowing and a friend and I were rushing about showing each other favourite haunts before the sun set… I’d love to tell you what we saw but then you’ll know all the answers and the quiz will be no fun… there’s some great prizes by the way, all treasure I’ve found on the city’s pavement… its amazing what you can find when you’re looking but I really ought to stop. Too much stuff is suffocating.
We walked home through the park, eating falafel and laughing at how beautiful it was and how peaceful – mostly because everyone’s too scared to go there at night. I would be too if I was on my own (that’s another map I want to draw, a collaborative one about street harassment but I can’t quite figure out how to make it work, what do you think?)
It felt like the only place in town the modern panoptican couldn’t see us – cameras everywhere these days and don’t get me started about the beetham tower, there’s not room. We discovered new constellations amongst the stars whilst a fox watched us trespass on his land. Back on the street halogen glowed and litter blew around us as we passed the old factory and a roadside shrine. There was some barbed wire on the kerb – a morag trap – I fell and cut my leg.
As above, so below
I hope you like the exhibition (mmm.maps are sexy) and enjoy the accidental festival. It should evolve over time, there’s some great work coming to us soon from 56a via Italy that I’m very excited about, plus reports from the various expeditions and explorations. Please add your own embellishments, stories, maps and musings.
The LRM are planning further actions and some point soon we might even publish our manifesto.Its central tenet will probably be that we like flowers growing out of the side of buildings and yuppification makes us sad.
Glittery love and golden apples
The Loiterers Resistance Movement, December 2006 xxx
funny but in some ways i feel we've travelled so far but in a different light it's all still the same.