A Spitalfields Journey
Informed by journeys or site-specific locations, the work draws inspiration from Charles Baudelaire’s concept of the ‘flâneur’, as a detached observer of the modern metropolis.
‘He, the lover of life, may also be compared to a mirror as vast as this crowd: to a kaleidoscope endowed with consciousness, which with every one of its movements presents a pattern of life, in all its multiplicity, and the
flowing grace of all the elements that go to compose life.’
Charles Baudelaire (1861)
As well as recording a personal journey, this work provides a social documentary - recording the mix of architecture and cultures and the way they co-exist in an ever changing world.
Spitalfields has an ‘aura’ about it – echoes of the past and an almost electrical buzz of the present, resonating and bouncing around, from building to building, street to street.
‘I had already noticed in things a sort of conspiratorial air. Was it to me that it was addressed? I had no means of understanding… You could have sworn that things were thought which stopped halfway, which forgot themselves, which forgot what they had wanted to think and which stayed like that, swaying to and fro, with funny little meaning which went beyond them’
Jean Paul Sartre (1938)
There is a dark side to the area – this was where Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper committed their crimes. There is also a more benign side as an area that has harboured strangers: in turn the Huguenots, the Jews, and the Bengalis have all made the area their home. Geographically, and in human terms, Spitalfields has always been on the edge; I am drawn to document and respond to it.
David Rhys Jones