Landscape of dissent: event at Chisenhale Gallery

In line with the spirit of The Art of Dissent, we have organised an event at Chisenhale Gallery: Landscape of dissent: London 2012 and the Transformation of the East End.

The format is a panel discussion bringing together researchers and practitioners to critically explore the ways in which the London Olympics are transforming the economic, social, political and physical landscape of east London. Participants will chart different aspects of this changing landscape, from the public debt that underpins it to the intensive branding of urban space. Moving away from the anodyne visions of the future promoted by official bodies, the goal of the session is to redefine the “legacy” of the Games as a space of/for dissensus. The analysis of the already tangible effects of the Olympics in local communities will be complemented by the lines of flight plotted in radical dystopian narratives.

Chaired and introduced by Mike Raco, Professor of Urban and Regional Governance, The Bartlett, UCL who has undertaken extensive research on the displacement of local businesses by the Olympics and the contractual and governance structures of the Games.


Anna Minton, author of Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the twenty-first-century city. Based on the new chapter on the London Olympics in the second edition of her book Ground Control, she will discuss how the “regeneration” model based on cheap credit and ever increasing property values behind the Olympic-led transformation of east London has, particularly after the 2008 crash, created a legacy of massive debt and opportunities for privatisation (such as the case of the Olympic Village). She will also discuss the implementation of “secure by design” principles in the Olympic Park and its legacy of securitisation and control.

Paul Watt, Senior Lecturer Urban Studies, Birkbeck. Dr Watt will present his research with young homeless men and women in Stratford, a collective exploration of the ways the transformation of the area with Westfield and the Olympics have affected their daily lives and future prospects. Claims made about the positive legacy of the Games for local young people are critically evaluated in light of the experiences of exclusion and dispossession shared by this group.

Alberto Duman, artist and lecturer, Middlesex University. Duman will present a case study on these outdoor gyms, showing how sponsorship deals signed around the Olympics are reconfiguring bits of public space in London. The case illustrates the different levels at which the transformation of London’s landscape brought about by the Olympics ought to be thought, in particular the ways in which public bodies and private companies operate together in this process.

Laura Oldfield Ford, artist and writer. Oldfield Ford will present her work as Savage Messiah, an exploration of the critical power of dystopian narrative for re-imagining the present. Her psycho-geographic drifts around a future east London articulate an alternative reading of its transformation, based also on the activation of repressed memories.

Image above by Alberto Duman.

With a special thanks to Urban Geography Research Group.


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