The Coalition of the Dispossessed

Investigation by Anna Colin

Summary

Anti-Social Social Club: Episode One, The Chamber of the Dispossessed, Thursday 15 June 2017, 7pm. On the initiative of artist Ève Chabanon, around forty people gathered in the council chamber at the town hall of Barking and Dagenham, a borough of outer East London. For one evening, this highly symbolic site, usually closed to the public, welcomed local and non-local residents, members of the Women’s Institute, students form the local Eastbury Community School, artists, a poet and a local councillor. The aim of the Anti-Social Social Club was to create a fictional temporary coalition—that of the dispossessed—and show the fragility of the democratic apparatus through a performative debate. The evening was led by moderator and performance artist Chloe Cooper, who invited the assembled guests to talk about themes that are especially binary and divisive such as: dependence (on money, authority, others) and independence (in finances and thought); difference and the suspicion of difference (do we identify with cultural and social “others”, or do we fear them?); social and economic inclusion and exclusion; states of emergency and the gentrification of the city by art. Although the moderator’s contributions were prepared, the coalition’s replies were mostly improvised. However, several tools were used to give direction and unity to this coalition, which would ultimately, in a more or less voluntary way, accept the light-hearted sense of play sought by Ève Chabanon.

[ 1 ]

The White House, a house that the borough is leasing to the organisation Create London free of charge for twenty-five years, offers residencies to two artists every three or six months, and its Front Room is open to local residents for various free cultural and social activities.

[ 2 ]
[ 3 ]

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/aug/23/remade-in-dagenham-how-arts-celebrate-boroughs-industrial-heritage

[ 4 ]

The programme is available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08gxndc [accessed 22 May 2018].

[ 5 ]

Young, I, M, Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1990, p. 184.

[ 6 ]

Ibid, p. 227.

[ 7 ]

Ibid, p. 227.

[ 8 ]

Fraser, N, Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy, Durham, Duke University Press, 1990, p. 67.

[ 9 ]

Lefebvre, H, The Production of Space, Oxford, Blackwell, 1991, pp. 33 & 39.

[ 10 ]

Gieseking, J.J. and Mangold, W (eds), The People, Place, and Space Reader, New York, Routledge, 2014, p. 286.

An hour-and-a-half coalition The evening began with exercises: voice warm-ups, saying the words “anti”, “social” and “club” in unison, camera tests. This is ostensibly a matter of testing the sound and cameras for documentary purposes, but in reality these exercises served to probe the group’s ability to see itself as a collective, to synchronise and…

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