The most time I’ve spent in London is when my friend Zach and I did the Sacred Objects From Suburban Homes performance and residency at the Barbican. It also had a virtual reality component where people could send in their ‘Sacred Objects’ and have them remade in 3D virtual space alongside a shitty living room, a reptile-man, and a trippy-ass mandala.
The pay wasn’t huge for the project, but the Barbican did offer to put us up while we were there. That summer things were pretty booked but they finally found a spot in Shoreditch. When we arrived it was obvious that it was an apartment that nobody actually lived in, just bought by a speculator to rent out. Our contact’s name was Tony.
Across the street there was this amazing junk shop. Or not junk, but crazy art and objects and antiques. It was also owned by a guy named Tony. We immediately called him “Good Tony” and the Airbnb guy “Bad Tony”.
We had been obsessing over objects and what they meant, why one object was ‘sacred’ while others weren’t. We found the perfect example in the overflowing junk shop full of things that Good Tony obviously treasured: 90s assemblages made with doll heads, bespoke neon signs and a million dusty artefacts. We also found its inverse: an expensive empty apartment whose only value was monetary, not emotional.
These places were in 3 minutes walk of each other, and seemed not only symbolic of the project but of the changing neighborhood as well. We create value out of the things we love, and you can feel it. It’s got an aura, even if it’s technically worthless. It’s when you sell it all out to the highest bidder who doesn’t give a shit about it, that’s when it becomes junk.