The Wall on ‘Anything Goes Breakfast Show’ ALL FM

“…and it’s not just about self indulgent art, making colours on bricks on a wall, of an area which is being deconstructed.  There’s much more about it than that.  It’s about rave culture and music – WHY.”

The phenomenal Fiona Ledgard interviewing Jen between Gesamtkunstwerk 5 at Islington Mill and the SAVE OUR NHS. Defend Jobs and Services. No to Austerity. March and Rally organised by TUC (Trades Union Congress)… Talking about coming together, labour, virtuality and change in the material world – and the Bank Theatre’s origins with a group of Liverpudlian workingmen who created a system of finance and care, like an early NHS.

3/10/13 Anything Goes Breakfast Show 96.9 ALL FM — BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Fiona Ledgard Interviews: Ajamu (Fierce Northwest) // Burnt Offerings DJs Vulj & Hess (Gesamtkunstwerk) // Jen Wu (The Wall)

Close up 1


Fiona Ledgard:  Jen Wu, how are you doing?

Jen Wu:  I’d say I’m really well.

FL: Tell me about your current art piece…

JW: Okay, well at the moment where it stands is there’s all the regeneration that’s happening on Chapel Street in Salford – epic kind of like apocalyptic, sci-fi, amazing, beautiful, stunning stuff happening so on one of these sites there’s a building that’s going to be taken down and I’ve kind of negotiated for this brick wall to be the site of this project.  So I guess physically what’s there at the moment is me having numbered these bricks so that the wall can be reconstructed brick by brick in the same order – I’ve managed to get from 1 to 3,000 so far…

FL: Painted in different colours…

JW: Yeah – the reason for that is because – I did these kind of like practice tests and realised that ‘cause I used stencils to get the numbers on, I realised I couldn’t get four digits on the header courses which is when the bricks are turned the short way round so there had to be a way of kind of just marking you know like 0 to 999 – and I guess I just chose the colours intuitively.  I tried to find – it’s  temporary marking paint so it’s gonna fade – some of the paint’s like 6 to 8 weeks, some of the paint’s 2 to 3 months – but I researched all the temporary marking paint basically that was available in the UK.  I tried to find all the colours I could and then just did colour tests because I knew it was important to Salford that it looked good.  I mean this is like you know when people come home, this is the main artery like – there’s 27,000 vehicles apparently that go through this, I mean both ways – it’s a busy road – so it had to look good – so I did my damnedest to make it – cause I felt like, you know…

FL: It’s so colourful…

JW: So you know, there’s a slight kind of like ravey narrative to this whole thing – because the idea –

FL: This is the question now – if you’re listening to ALL FM Anything Goes Breakfast Show I’m talking to Jen Wu.  And it’s not just about self indulgent art, making colours on bricks on a wall, of an area which is being deconstructed.  There’s much more about it than that.  It’s about rave culture and music – WHY.

JW: Because I came up north initially cause I was doing this residency – an artist’s residency with the Chinese Arts Centre and I guess because of like interests I had I was looking into the legacy of the Haçienda and there’s something about industry – warehouses – loss of industry – things going to, I guess because I was in China, er the Chinese Arts Centre it was about labour going to China, ghosts of industry, ghosts, warehouses, rave, music, ghosts, some – other kind of thing.  But then there was also this thing the more I looked into like the Haçienda and mainly – initially through like internet research about things people had said about it – and about that time, and about how people just felt this optimism, of like possibility, like people were making the music.  You’d be in this club and you just felt like – and you realised the person next to you was like making the music that you were dancing to and somehow – it was just like – how did this thing, how did this thing like sweep an entire city?

FL: It is so interesting what you’re saying about being inspired – from the Haçienda days when people were literally coming together – rave times – in a time where it wasn’t perfect for people in everyday life.  You are talking about the actual infrastructure of a building that is being taken down on Chapel Street.  So many areas around Salford and Greater Manchester have been so productive in the Industrial Revolution and important but over the sort of last decade, so many organisations, so many buildings have closed down, work has gone to other countries.  This is how capitalism is working.  So is your art ultimately an anti-capitalist statement?

JW: … Yes.  I mean it was about this trajectory of labour becoming capital and – there’s something about – I was trying to think about what happened between 1989 let’s say, like second summer of love, 2011 summer riots – and about… things becoming digital and virtual and… it feeling like it’s a lot harder to do something.  And that sense of doing something like in the material world becomes harder and harder to get kind of in this virtual digital world where you say, yes I’m going to go to this event and you don’t go.  You like something, you’ve clicked a button.  So – along with the demolition of social space – it’s really really really important, digital virtual culture – but at the same time, it’s like you still need this physical thing of people coming together so – I guess it’s what I’m trying to do.

FL: Where do people find out more about this project?

JW:  I guess it’s a kind of reference to ‘the Haçienda must be built’.  But quite practically, the wall must be rebuilt.

FL: I understand the metaphor – it’s very cool and it’s very political and let’s mobilise.  Let me ask you one last question.  I am really interested – go on…

JW: It’s gonna be a year-long process before this wall can be rebuilt so – in the meantime, I need to know if people are interested in this project and so, the one thing I have is contact details on this website.  All the rest of it, take with a grain of salt because I’m workin it out.  But like the important thing is like you know I hope it doesn’t put ya off, all the other stuff on the website, but like the important thing is the contact details because there’s different ways that I’m hoping to bring different people together through different maybe like music events, or political events, or about heritage or about you know just community like I don’t know the shape of them yet, but because the original idea was for people, anyone to come and be part of this like demolition rave where anyone could take down this wall by hand brick by brick – because that can’t happen, it’s gonna take place in different ways over the next year so check the website out –

FL: My last question to you – we’ve got about 30 seconds left – is – what is the original building of The Wall that is being taken down?  That is the question…

JW: Okay.  It’s been called The Old Bank Theatre but I think it was the Royal Liver Friendly Society which was this like kind of prototype of almost like an NHS system…

FL: (Oh my God…)

JW: … where like Liverpool dockworkers got together and put together this like bank where they would take care of each other’s funerals.

FL: Thank you so much Jen Wu.

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