Community Spirit

2010. Wood, plastic crates, fireman

"The project took place in Hackney Downs Park, London. I wanted to do something simple and good, something that brings people together, fuels solidarity and a sense of belonging. I thought of the most basic and instinctive way of bonding - sitting by the fire. I decided to set up a small campfire in a local park, where people could come any time of day or night, warm up, talk or just look at the stars or the fire. The Council, due to Heath and Safety regulations, rejected the proposal but after further persuasions I was allowed to run the project on the condition that a fence is installed around the fire, all appropriate hazard warning signs are displayed and a fire fighter is present at the allocated, fenced and CCTV monitored premises at all times.

"I followed the rules, however still I was not allowed to light the fire due to London Fire Legislation (no open fires allowed). The project resulted in a lonely and bored fireman staring at the hazard warning signs pinned to the fence, guarding a pile of dead wood, monitored by CCTV. Rather than a place of belonging, solidarity, faith and meditation, the setting reflected isolation, dead spirit, and institutional control in the name of our own good."