Demolition ∞ Regeneration

Jen Wu, Visualisation of The Wall: Phase II - Demolition.  Sent to Salford City Council via English Cities Fund, 7 Jan 2013.

Jen Wu, Visualisation of The Wall: Phase II – Demolition. Sent to Salford City Council via English Cities Fund, 7 Jan 2013.

Jen Wu, The Spirit of the Haçienda Lives On, 2013.

Jen Wu, The Spirit of the Haçienda Lives On, 2013.

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From Jen Wu’s notes for ‘Suppertime Talk’ at Islington Mill, 13 July 2013

A brick wall.  So that anyone can do it.  Can achieve something pretty crazy – what can happen when people get together.  Don’t need specialist skills – like a club, people contribute in their own way.  Being there is the main thing.

Why a plain brick wall… it could be any wall, any time.  Speaks more to the labour that built it than whatever is the dominant power at the time.

The Old Bank Theatre.
Demolition rave.  Reconstruction rave.
To stay as a monument for 3 years until development of the site.

Wanted to do something that made a positive contribution, that wasn’t just looking at what’s wrong but something that you could DO.  Almost if the promise of 1989 became the reality rather than the reality we actually live in – if society hadn’t gone on believing in the death of social space – of society, letting it happen… erosion of the social state

Creating a social space through its own demolition and reconstruction – a means of bringing people together.

Matter to nothing – death of social space – ghosts and spectres – public to private

  • How a spirit carries on – places like Islington Mill, Unity Radio
  • But another kind of immaterial that felt dangerous – like what happened to Haçienda –> demolished in 2002, a spirit sold back.  On the one hand nostalgia fair enough (taxi cabs, Christmas parties) but trying to make sense of what the Haçienda Apartments is – selling an image and a history of something which is no longer there – has been taken away
  • Commercialization of rave
  • Riots seen as a reaction against glass walls – kids throwing bricks – council saying some from council building sites – but in Manchester city centre it was about commodities – being sold something, virtual image based culture – I’m 35 and can’t afford to shop on the high street let alone people who are so aggressively marketed to – invisible walls
  • Increasing social division
  • Documenting demolition of Stella Maris – value lies not in the building or its history but rather in its becoming nothing… vision of the future one of demolition, the transformation of labour to capital
  • Virtual, digital culture – instant gratification – seems infinitely more difficult to do things, because of a loss of material understanding – historical process, change, revolution – labour, unions – rave
  • Demolition and displacement – disruption of communities – commercialization of rave – dispossessed of land
  • Music as the monument of the displaced.
  • What often unites is music… DIY energy that finds its home at places like Islington Mill but about people doing things, doing things together, supporting each other – collective – non-ego driven

Legacy of the Haçienda

  • time of possibility
  • my own raver past – utopia

Ed (The Chemical Brothers) “Manchester is the sort of place where you can feel like you’re part of something.  I suppose Manchester imbued us with the spirit that we could get up and do stuff.  The most amazing thing was that you’d hear a good record in a club and the person who’d made it was dancing next to you.”

Graham Massey – “Socially, gay clubs were becoming more mixed – based on the fact that they were known for playing New York style club music. Manchester’s Black club music nights were becoming more mixed for the same reason. Barriers were coming down. You’ve got to remember how tribal everything was before then. Everyone stuck to their own cliques. So when the Haçienda did kick off in 1988 (due to an influx of ecstasy no doubt), it was its mix of people from different social backgrounds that seemed like a breakthrough, it was a shared experience that needed its own new kind of music as a new flag…”

Kelvin Andrews (DJ) “There was an open mindedness about it all.  People like Graham Massey.  The Haçienda was a massive catalyst cos people would go socially and it would just change everything that they thought.”

  • feeling of optimism, euphoria
  • ‘then’ as second summer of love, and ‘now’ as summer riots – what had changed
  • times of strange similarity – Tory government, Berlin wall / Arab Spring, within Manchester a connection between the two with Noonans and Mark Duggan.  But if you see these two times as youth movements what had changed.  From an expression of optimism to impossibility.

THE WALL, 2-track CD album.
Jen Wu, 2013.

Audio samples from Madchester: The Sound of the North, Granada 1990  // BBC Newsnight, 25 Aug 2011

Audio samples from ‘Hulme Crescents – The End’ (uploaded by FASTF0RWARD)


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