Hanging out in the studios, going for a quick drink after the lecture, checking out a pop-up show in a warehouse in Peckham (about to be demolished and turned into luxury flats), meeting in Gatwick airport north terminal before a school trip to Berlin. These trivial places that we used to take for granted have been inaccessible for yet another year. Not exactly public space, in the past we nevertheless managed to temporarily occupy them in order to sustain our community of artists but under the sign of the plague another approach had to be taken. Public Sphere students took to the streets - walking, observing, reporting, performing, connecting. Our cities, from Chongqing to London to Seattle, have become solid blocks of accumulated capital, privatising our use of the street. Even sunshine, imprisoned behind new skyscrapers and office blocks, is now a commodity to which access has to be negotiated. Public Sphere students wrote new narratives and recorded new music for these cities, imagined new buildings, languages and state departments against these new enclosures. Being locked down and transforming living rooms into studios did not deter our students in searching for new strategies of resistance: banners dangling from balconies on council estates, modernist buildings reimagined as opera stages and digital green-screens transmuted into alien bodies. For the last two years, our students have armed themselves with an arsenal of speculative futures for a post pandemic world.
Dr Pil Kollectiv, Pathway Lead, Public Sphere