WAF Young Reviewer - Roehampton Resounded
On a Saturday afternoon, I went to go and view Roehampton Resounded, a project within Roehampton’s Alton Estate, about Roehampton’s Alton Estate.
I had assumed this was to be an art installation without humans in it, for people to view independently, or perhaps gawk at on their weekend walk; I was imagining a six-hour loop of music, over visuals which didn’t demand your attention but would stop you in your tracks somewhat. I was very much wrong; whilst there was an art installation of sorts outside, where beer cans were piled up in a cardboard box, and a video game controller could be seen amongst the rubble, what was happening inside the building of the project felt like something completely new altogether.
I was greeted by two people on a desk in front of a black curtain, with a menagerie of electronic equipment at their disposal. I noticed also a percussionist with bongos and other acoustic drum staples, and an electric guitar player. We were encouraged to sit down on any chair available, and use maracas and shakers which sat on the shelf behind us. What I immediately noticed was the casual environment already established; these weren’t self-important students of art, but creatives looking to provide an easygoing yet transformative space. And transformative it was; the room was darkly lit, but it wasn’t hard to notice the widescreen video of the Alton Estate playing in a loop, which was soon soundtracked by freewheeling improvisations that seemed to transform the video into a hazy, immersive montage. This atmosphere was further created when a smoke machine’s contents rose up and clouded the view of the video; at the time, it felt appropriate to the music and the mood of the room, but looking back, it would have been interesting for there to be only the music and the video, and no excess visual addition, as some may argue that less is more.
As the improvisation developed, I joined in on maracas, which may seem like a childish or insignificant decision, but I found that my musical participation was the final piece to the puzzle of the project.
As a whole, the project felt like a positive new glimpse into the Alton Estate; encouraging it’s participants to notice that geographic locations are not defined by a black-and-white approach to ugliness and beauty; you have to find the beauty within locations. If you accompany these locations with enough art and enough life, they will start to come into their own, and this was something the organizers and musicians took into account, during a conversation we had once their improvisations finished.
If Roehampton Resounded ever returns, I’ll be intrigued in seeing how the project progresses to include the Roehampton community, as this afternoon carried with it both a light-hearted sense of adventure, and a more meaningful effort to community build. As well as this, it allowed me to look at community housing in a more nuanced way.
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