With every action architecture changesMixed media
This work considers the way information is read, be it from photograph, architecture, text or history, and how none can be independent of the others. Inspired by both the 1996 IRA Aldwych bus bomb which smashed the windows of The India Club on the Strand and the discrete stairway which leads to space from the pavement, the processes of countries attempting to break away from the British Empire is explored.
The installation includes archive photographic images and text positioned in relation to The India Club’s architecture and the view of Aldwych from the windows.
The first window is a mixed-media arrangement which marks the absence of leaded panels, a text work of all the nations which have attempted to extricate themselves from British control, the pink dust scratched from a Victorian map of the British Empire, and details and images from press coverage of the 1993 IRA explosion directly augmenting the view to the site of the explosion.
The second window recreates the lead work lost to the IRA explosion. On closer inspection, the visitor notices that he ghostly trace of the horizontal and vertical elements are formed of quotes taken from actors who have opposed the British Empire or sought extraction from it, from Mahatma Ghandi and Alex Salmond to the Micmacs and Privisional IRA.
On the stairway which leads from the Strand to the first floor public spaces of The India Club, I positioned a copy of Frederick Evans’ 1903 A Sea of Steps, seminal to the history of architectural photography which poetically renders the worn steps in Wells Cathedral.
The place where you are, where you are now building a fort, where you want as it were to enthrone yourself, this land of which you want to make yourself the absolute master: this land belongs to me.A 1749 letter from the Micmac chief to the British governor at Halifax.
“An officer did all in his power to entice them to him by offering presents, etc., but it was to no purpose. All they seemed to want was for us to be gone.” On the reception of Aborigines on the British landing, 1770.
They greeted them in the same words, and in the same tone of vociferation shouting everywhere, “Warra, Warra, Warra” - words which, by the gestures that accompanied them, could not be interpreted as invitations to land, or expressions of welcome. By shouting “Warra, Warra, Warra”, the Aborigines were giving eloquent expression to their demands, crying out clearing in their own language: “Go away, go away, go away!” On the reception of Aborigines on the British landing, 1770.
In the name of our Lord Mohammed, the Guardian of the Moslems, and the last of all the Prophets, rise up and throw the British out. Chiefs of the native population of Penang in 1791.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have the full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. From the “Declaration of Independence of the thirteen united States of America”, 1776.
I sware, I will to the best of my power, Cut Down Kings, Queens and Princes, Earls, Lords, and all such with Land Jobbin and Herrisy. Whiteboy's oath, recorded at the end of the 18th century.
How can one be compelled to accept slavery? I simply refuse to do the master's bidding. He may torture me, break my bones to atoms and even kill me. He will then have my dead body, not my obedience. Ultimately, therefore, it is I who am the victor and not he, for he has failed in getting me to do what he wanted done. Mahatma Gandhi, 1906.
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. From The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic to the People of Ireland, the Easter Rising, 1916.
There was blood all over the place. There was tangled metal and glass everywhere.
Paul Rowan, witness to 1996 IRA bus bomb in Aldwych.
If what is happening in London doesn't get the message home, the same signal will be sent by activity in other major British cities.
Republican Source to Reuters.
Boy bomber Ed O'Brien spent the IRA ceasefire plotting a terror campaign in Britain, an inquest heard yesterday. O'Brien, 21, worked undercover in London making bombs and collecting information on targets. But his murderous mission ended when he accidentally blew himself up on a bus in London's Aldwych on February 18. Three days earlier, O'Brien had planted Semtex explosives in a phone box in Charing Cross Road. That device was found and defused after a coded warning. Following the Aldwych outrage more than 33lbs of Semtex - enough to make six huge bombs - was found at his flat in Lewisham, south London.
The Daily Mirror, April 17th 1996.
No one, absolutely no one, will do a better job of running Scotland than the people who live and work in Scotland. On September 18, we have the opportunity of a lifetime.
Alex Salmond in a TV debate on the 2014 Scottish referendum.
The India Club is an annual site-specific project designed to coincide with Photo London, initiated by Specular Assembly collective.