An evening of discussions between artists and researchers, challenging urban change

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As part of the official launch of Unseen Magazine Issue 6 – the inaugural spring/summer edition – Unseen joined forces with the London School of Economics to highlight a range of approaches to urban change from within and beyond the art world.

Issue 6 featured an essay by writer and artist Lewis Bush, surveying a range of critical visual responses to the rapid pace of urban change across the world. In his reflections, Bush suggests that photography – when in the right hands – might constitute a valuable tool in challenging the worst excesses of the neoliberal city.

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Drawing from the arguments set out in Bush’s article, the launch event saw a range of London-based artists discuss their work in conversation with various faculty members at LSE, whose own research observes similar phenomena. The discussions delved into themes of property, housing, community activism and gentrification.

Below, videos with each of the participating artists offer an insight into their research interests, artistic practices and motivations, along with links to their wider body of work.

Felicity Hammond

Felicity sat in conversation with Dr. Nancy Holman, Associate Professor of Urban Planning at LSE. They spoke on storytelling in architecture and how narratives of luxury developments interact with the forces of gentrification. Their discussion touched on post colonial aesthetics, Texan inspired cities in China and Felicity's nostalgia for the industrial landscapes she grew up in. In conclusion Dr. Holman challenged Felicity with the notion that artists spark the gentrification process when they move into less affluent neighbourhoods. In response Felicity wondered whether this narrative was true or a convenient scapegoat for the landowners and developers, the only ones making profit from these changes.

Max Colson

In discussion with Max Colson was Dr Alan Mace, Associate Professor of Urban Planning Studies at LSE. Their conversation ranged from the increasing speed of change in London (will the city eventually regulate or consume itself?) to Max's project and the technology of self driving cars in our hybrid future. The two rounded up with comments on offshore properties, London's iceberg homes, and the ability of artists, in comparison to academics, to fill in the missing spaces behind the facade of society and powers at play.

Eva Sajovic

Eva conversed with Kath Scanlon, a Research Fellow at LSE who's work involves interviewing broad samples of residents in areas of London undergoing development, similar to Eva's artistic research into her own neighbourhood. They compared the differences in their technique, Scanlon uses social scientific modes of research and Eva more randomly gains trust and enters into the lives and homes of those she meets in her Elephant & Castle local shopping mall. Furthermore the two discussed Eva's ongoing project on homelessness and community displacement in South London, rounding up with thoughts on how artistic practice can be used as a tool for social change.

Support Eva Sajovic's social project by purchasing her limited edition, hand printed work in our Shop for Contemporary Photography.

Rhianne Clarke

To close the night, Lewis Bush, author of the article which inspired the event spoke with artist Rhianne Clarke. The two reminisced the vibrant London neighbourhoods that characterised their youth and the disorientating and often violent effect inherent in change. Bush wrapped up with a remark on how artists have the power to treat or possibly mistreat the communities they love by what they choose to focus their lens on.

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