Shift//Delete & Epos257, Intervention on abandoned building site, Manchester, 2013
- candles, plastic, flowers from cemetery.
The chasm between citizens and political institutions and political parties is growing. In one sense it is part of the effect of globalization and the nation-state crisis; however, it is also expressed and emphasized by the new, large-scale forms of urban development, which are socially segregating, environmentally unsustainable and politically dubious. If the city is both the producer of citizenship and the generator of innovation, it is therefore the soil in which democracy lives, progresses and responds to new challenges. Without the city, the place that maximizes exchanges between people, democracy loses its strength to create potential futures and promote current actions. The city is the past, present and future of democracy. Without a vision and constant activity to construct the city that is built up and torn down every day, we accept the slow, steady degradation of democracy.
Between 1997 and 2007, Manchester city centre property developers were gifted public land (some contracts saw prices set at £1 per sqm for city centre developments) that saw the construction of 15,000 apartments in order to increase the density of higher earning and higher tax paying individuals within the city centre as a precursor for increased tax revenues. This ideology was a mirror to other large scale Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) land grabs that were rolled out across the UK after the ‘Isle of Dogs’ development established a new financial industries hub in central London and a new paradigm for urban planning and development. Using new powers of acquisition, local councils and property speculators can move into communities and redevelop huge swathes of land in order to absorb surplus capital accumulation and gentrify city centre districts.
This intervention was installed in Ancoats, once the centre of the birth of industrial capital in Manchester – Cottonopolis. The area was earmarked for redevelopment prior to the 2008 financial crisis as low income neighbourhoods were cleared ready for new cosmopolitan apartment complexes. As the financial crisis hit the UK, the developers quickly exited, a story that echoes across the UK and the western world. You can see where the money ran out, the border between.
Here, five years after the 2008 financial crisis, we mourn the death of community. The chosen site abandoned as a result of the financial crisis, leaves nothing but mausoleums to late Capitalism in the midst of a now segregated and partially gentrified, low income neighbourhood.
- Shift//Delete, Epos257