Beeke Melcher, Billie Walker, Cristina Assunção, Malou den Dekker, Mollie Brooks, Arthur Hawkes-Welbourne
While exploring regeneration and community in London, the project Soil from Nowhere began investigating the Besson Street Triangle. Twelve years ago an estimated 350 council homes were demolished to make way for plans which are yet to be fulfilled. Since then it has stood derelict. The site no longer has a postcode. As it stands, it is nowhere.
Across the street lies the Besson Street Community Garden. The garden is very much somewhere. It is much more than a green space: it is a space for learning, relaxation and community. Soil from Nowhere has used an intensive approach to both sites, comprising agency, engagement and exuberance, in order to begin to understand what it means for local people to create and maintain the spaces that have relevance to, and engagement with, their community. In response to this, a performance work using soil from nowhere was devised and staged in five boroughs: Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Lewisham. Here, soil that would never have otherwise left the confines of a place from which the public is excluded was carried and distributed throughout concrete urban sprawls. In doing this, we provoke thought and discussion about green spaces, community and development.
As a continuation of these explorations, we created a communal space and living archive in Goldsmiths over three days. This space was intended to further discussions and ideas about community and power relations. We invited people to join us in this process. Our aim was to discuss what it means to be a community? In what ways is community building a political act? In what ways does place both shape, and become shaped by, communities and power dynamics between them? How does power pertain to place? How does power relate to the different sites? How do we, as a group of students, situate ourselves in relation to different communities?