The Journey Home

6 Nov 2009 jane

Today PLATFORM opened a discussion on what happens after 29th November, when the C Words season at Arnolfini comes to an end.

Since before PLATFORM arrived in Bristol those of us involved at the hub of the C Words melee have been meeting weekly to discuss the enormous logistics of the project: two months and over seventy events. A major challenge was to move various objects from London to Bristol burning as little carbon as possible. Creative energy was used in place of fossil fuels as we moved heavy objects by water, by rail and by bicycle and quadricycle. Returning those objects from the Avon to the Thames valley presents a similar challenge. How will we unravel gallery three here at Arnolfini, in a way that fits with the values and principles of C Words?

The biggest challenge is PLATFORM’s tent, displaced indoors at Arnolfini in part as a metaphor for PLATFORM’s own sense of being out of our native environment. The tent is constructed from seven incredibly heavy welded steel sections but could easily be returned to London by van. Conscious of the contradictions inherent in that approach we began our discussion by asking whether there was any sense in returning the tent to London at all.

James was passionate that the tent – which dates from 1989 – had been given new life by C words and should be put to use in future PLATFORM projects. Benjamin feared the burden of this metaphorical albatross. It was hard work to move the tent to Bristol and it will doubtless be hard work to move it again, yet James won the argument on the condition that he take responsibility for the tent’s return journey.

The weight of this heavy object is far more subjective for James as he carries with him so many memories and emotions from its life. Richard recognised that the tent is more than a building, a structure. It is a poetic object and James is understandably protective of its continuity, its integrity. It would demean the object to overlook its value beyond that as a structure. The object needs to live its intention, there is a chronology attached, a living history which needs to be respected if it is to retain its value as an icon.

The solution agreed by all parties is that we will ask Bert of the Bristol based Know Alternative to help us move the tent by renewably powered milk float to a temporary lock-up in the city. Meanwhile, James will choreograph the tent’s return journey to London by low-carbon slow travel. Seeing transit as performance James will move the tent after he returns from the COP 15 climate summit in Copenhagen. Watch this space.

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