Sign of the times – Shift//Delete
Intervention at London Stock Exchange, London, 2011
On May 30th, 2011, a leader of the Spanish Indignants movement, inspired by the Arab Spring, made a call for a worldwide protest on October 15th.
One of the inspirations for the occupy movement was the Democracy Village set up in 2010, outside the Houses of Parliament in London. On the 15th of October begun a global occupy movement as the ’99%’ focussed their gaze and attention on the financial centres of the western world. The London Stock Exchange is one of the most influential and powerful trading areas in the world. It is based in an area of land that forms the ‘The Corporation of the City of London’ district – commonly referred to as ‘The City’ or ‘Square Mile’ by traders and financial workers.
Shift//Delete joined the 1000+ people that worked to secure the Occupy London camp on the 15th of October, 2011. Whilst the masses of people swelled at the gates to the London Stock Exchange, Shift//Delete installed an unofficial street sign that renamed Paternoster Square – the home of the London Stock Exchange, to Tahrir Square – a sign of the Occupy movement’s solidarity with the pro-democracy campaigners in Egypt that saw the beginnings of what is now known as the Arab Spring. This movement for real democracy grew to 950 global occupations of financial centres by citizens in over 80 countries as people start to move towards true democracy.
‘If we are to make art politically, as artists we need to make art, provide for art and distribute art without innocence but with worldly knowledge of the relational field within which art, artists and non-artists all function. To reconnect art to its ethical dimension. An occupied public space is renamed for the public as they join a global movement to reclaim democracy. By simulating and detourning the signs and symbols of street signage, we can highlight the discrepancies that are evident within public and private ownership. The urban planning of financial capitals like the City of London is expressed and manifest via political architecture, for example – it is no coincidence that the London Stock Exchange is situated behind secure, gated entrances that wreak of the medieval. The drawbridge can be raised. The unsustainable financial system of capitalism is reinforced and perpetuated by design and the financial organisations that work in ‘The City’.
You can read more about the undemocratic, medieval City of London here.
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