James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous selected for Bow Open 2015

Following the recent screening of videos from the Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), part of The Brutalist Playground, James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous had their work selected for the STRUCTURE TEXTURE FUTURE exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery in London. The exhibition was selected and curated by Rosamond Murdoch, Nunnery Gallery Director and Dr. Shahidha Bari, writer, academic and critic, based in London. Bari is lecturer in Romanticism at Queen Mary University of London. James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous were selected alongside 14 others out of 500 Bow Artists.

The works selected gather around the interlocked themes of ruin and repair, as might be understood in the terms of the industrial and the natural. In many ways, this grounds the collection in its home in East London, a part of the city that is a heartland for creativity and making, but which is also constantly building and displacing.

The work included two copies of TimeOut magazine from the Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives. The story written on Balfron Tower provoked responses on the TimeOut website forum and on the Balfron Tower Facebook group. These conversations are archived. A page from TimeOut was reproduced in the catalogue for the exhibition and two copies of the catalogue were reabsorbed into the Archives. The Balfron Tower/Rowlett Street Archives can be understood as a reciprocal conduit. One in which the materials gathered in the Archives which are up for debate and the materials these debates generate, such as the Time Out magazine and online comments, produce and are produced by the Archives, of which this announcement forms part. STRUCTURE TEXTURE FUTURE was on from 20 June to 5 July 2015, and the catalogue is available online.

Commissioned by the London County Council and known during development as Rowlett Street Phase 1, Balfron Tower was designed by Ernö Goldfinger as social housing. Built in 1968 and listed Grade II in 1996, Balfron Tower is described by English Heritage as having ‘a distinctive profile that sets it apart from other tall blocks. More importantly, it proved that such blocks could be well planned and beautifully finished, revealing Goldfinger as a master in the production of finely textured and long-lasting concrete masses.’ Ownership was subsequently transferred from Tower Hamlets Council to Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association (Poplar HARCA) who have managed the building since 2007. It was announced by ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman on April Fools’ Day (2015) that ‘Poplar Harca were unable to afford the cost of refurbishing Balfron Tower without selling it on.’[1] Property developers Londonewcastle are lined up to sell all 146 flats on the private market in the near future.

In response to the planned refurbishment, which has been looming over Balfron Tower for the past five years, James Lander/Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous established the BALFRON TOWER/Rowlett Street Archives in 2012. These Archives are made up of everything and nothing to do with their subject. From its historical beginnings as Rowlett Street, to the widely documented process of regeneration. From the artistic and cultural activities of recent years, to the overlooked traces and ephemera captured in common areas such as the north and south stairwells. The Archives include documentation, photographs, audio/video recordings and original features e.g. corridor tiles, fittings and fixtures. In amongst the Archives are private documents, for which permission to copy, reproduce or publish has been refused.

[1] Rahman, L. (2015) Statement on Balfron Tower. [Online] 1 April 2015. Available at: http://lutfurrahman.com/statement-balfron-tower/ [Accessed: 1 April 2015] Mayor at time of announcement subsequently removed from office due to electoral fraud.

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