Short Fuse

The Generation Studio

Harold Offeh (UK)

Cultural Dislocation: In the Studio and on the Street.

For my contribution to the Short Fuse I’m submitting a 3 min audio piece and documentation of my ongoing studio instigated during and after my allotted studio residency. I was invited to respond to the ‘Generation Studio’. I tried to tie the context of this studio to some of my current interest and projects. An obvious link and starting point are my collaborative project with young people. That interaction often reinforces my position and clearly highlights my age. I’m currently 33 years old, coincidently the age that Jesus was when died. This provided a framework for The New Museum in New York 1st Triennial, entitled ‘Younger Than Jesus’ in 2009. The large survey exhibition was an attempt to capture a ‘fresh’ generation of artist all below 33. So I tried to define my activities by looking outside of my generation, a look to the future.

The dates of residency 28th and 29th July 2010 coincided with a collaborative project I was doing with a youth group in Peckham, south London called “Leaders of Tomorrow”. We are towards an exhibition called Futurama (based on the 1939 World’s fair exhibit and not the animated series) that will see the young people Leaders of Tomorrow stage a mini-worlds fair in Peckham, London. The exhibition will look at how design solutions might be applied to challenges within the local area. As part of the process the young people and I went on a walk around Peckham on 28th July, the discussion centred on their perceptions of the local area and changes they wanted made.

Below is an outline of what I did over the residency period.

Harold Offeh

28th July. Day 1

The day started with a walking tour of Peckham, South London with a youth group called Leaders of Tomorrow. I invited them to discuss their perceptions of their local area and think about the potential of design to address these issues. This event is part of a larger project I’m working on called Futurama a collaborative project opening at Peckham Space, a new gallery in South London in Sept 2010. The group will commission designers to respond to issues they have identified in the area. It was an opportunity to hear the group articulate their ideas in relation to social issues and record their observations.

29th July. Day 2

In the studio I reflected upon the previous days discussion and the context of working with a younger generation and the cultural dislocation age causes. Much of my recent research has been looking at the history of world’s fairs and expos and what can now be seen a retro future. As part of my practice I work with young people and communities and during the course of the day 2 of the residency I took the opportunity to review previous projects. I rediscovered a project I did 2 years ago called London Mix, working with young people in North west London, places like Uxbridge, Hillingdon and Hayes, areas I know little about.

The idea of cultural dislocation was very to the fore of the London Mix project and it become apparent through the language the young people used, I often struggled to understand them. The language they used allowed to create a specific unifying identity, so they enjoyed the fact that as an adult I didn’t understand. What really fascinated me was how playful and irreverent they were with language and it was clear to see that their slang was perfect reflection of the cultural dynamics of that part of London, a fusion of cockney, Jamaican patois, Asian dialects, street speak and US hip-hop. So I asked the group to create an audio guide, a dictionary of the slang phrases they used. During the studio day I then tried to playfully use the words the young people had told me and then try to replay and reenact how they used these words. I tried to image how BBC Radio 4 would go about explaining the etymology of these words. So the audio recording acts as a spoof broadcast entitled ‘The Unofficial Uxbridge Dictionary’ the recordings will form the main part of contribution to Short Fuse broadcast.

The 3rd strand of activity relates to a performance piece I’m developing. Often within my practice I set myself challenges, tasks or activities to fulfill. Currently I’m practicing balancing objects on my head. This is in response to a series of snapshots I took a few years ago in Accra, Ghana of street traders carrying amazing amounts on their heads. Obviously in the context of Ghana the workers actions are very much linked to their socio-economic status. My initial starting point is to see if I could emulate the action and look at how it might exist in a different context. In the studio I’ve been playing with carrying different materials and on recent trip to New York I did some test shots in Brooklyn, before being moved on by the NYPD. Here again I’m interested in the cultural dislocations of the actions, how does this existing cultural practice operate in different context, like the UK or US. There are obvious dangers, for example I’m I exoticising the activity? However, I’m keen to explore the parameters of a functional action that acts as loaded cultural signifier.

The Unofficial Uxbridge Dictionary.

Compiled with the help of young people in the London Borough of Hillingdon

Gaff, Drum, YardA House
Club PartyBash
BogartHit and Run
ClockedCaught out, discovered in the act
DowsinFalling behind
ShystieBest of the best
S -- ing outRunning away
Sipping YakDrinking alcohol
On TopAbout to be arrested
EatenRobbery, Stealing
Gat, Burner, Stick, Mash, LengGun
SafeSee you later, take it easy
Blood, Bruv, Mate, Gee, BFriend
Boy'dMade to feel bad, belittled
On the RoadSurviving on the Street
Boydem. Feds, 5 O, Po PoPolice
Brocking OutDancing
RinsedUsed Up
SickGood, Great
Butters, Munter:Ugly
Buff/TrimGood Looking
Boogs/ CrepsTrainers
Dowie/SwagShit, Poor
Man dem demMen/ Males
KIMKeep it Moving
DeepDreadful/ Unfair
Allow itLet it be, leave them alone
Paps/ PeepsPeople friends
BrethrenFriends, Peer group
GrindSilent money making
PomplexFemale Genitalia
SkeenI see
A — lieYes, Alright
Peng/ ChongAttractive
GoonWild friend
MandemThose boys
LMAOLaugh my ass off
ROFLReally on Floor laughing
LOLLaugh out laud
BRBBe right back
G2GGot to go
RTFMRead the f**king manual
Hubby and WifeyLoved up couple
RentsParents, Mum and Dad
Food/ MunchDrugs
SekkleRelax, Chill
KMTKiss my Teeth
JackedRobbed, Stolen
RippedBeing cussed, verbally abused
Boom tingNice girl
Wa gwan?What's Going on?
Gyal demThose Girls
KrissTake care

Harold Offeh

Harold Offeh

Harold Offeh