As a kid trying to fill the sea with infinite sand, a titanic and apocalyptic need, to explore the Olympics process. The aim to capture the spirit and the atmosphere of the last year before the games that were passing through the metropolis of London. To approach a massive collective event, in the heart of capitalism, like a urban odyssey started by the colonial heritage towards the beginning of primitive digital era.
“We want the bid”, stated the slogan to win the right to host the Olympics against Paris. London has won because it proclaimed the access to children and to the community as a priority. And because the Olympics would have favoured the process of social regeneration of the area. The so-called Regeneration.
Stratford. An imposing construction site cordoned off, the place from which the new Olympic Village will raise. Not far away, empty and deserted buildings stands like ghosts of 22 floors, part of the big social housing complexes. Osita, a Nigerian who lives at the 17º floor, was offered 110.000£ but he declined the offer. To move out he wants to get paid more, “we’re looking for a better deal”.
Victoria Park. Behind the stadium, upon a canal where the community of London Boaters lives, we met Mike. In 2007 they have demolished the house where he lived at Clay’s Lane, Leyton area, eastern side of the Olympic area. The Council reallocated him. Like him, other 400 people. “Operations like this come at a price, besides the symbolic value for a capitalistic society of demolishing an alternative system of life”, says Mike. Today Mike, on board of his old-fashioned boat, named Willow, waits to know his destiny.
Somewhere in East London. A typical terraced house, with a blue gate and a white fence. Sue is an Olympic guide, she leaves home and a neighbour asks her if there are still tickets for the Olympics. Sue answers that just a few were sold in their area because they are too expensive. “… Olympics are a great opportunity, in my lifetime“.
Westfield. The shopping mall is dipped into an artificial island a few steps away from the Olympic Village under construction. During the Olympics, it will be the major turnout for the public. We discuss it with John, that we meet inside the shopping mall while a security guard orders us to turn off the camera. “The Olympics will be gone after two weeks from the beginning”, says John. He has travelled as an entrepreneur for a long time all over the world and he states to believe in capitalism. “7 hours of holy wrestling for divine change”, that’s what is written on a leaflet handed out to us from one of the many evangelists that crowds the shopping mall. Apostle Ben, of Ghanaian origin, dressed with a camouflage uniform, preaches with guerrilla pitches a never-ending prayer, while a group of believers joins in chorus. “More pray, more power. Less pray, less power. No pray, no power.”, Apostle Ben tells us. “Olympics are a small thing in the divine perspective, we just use them because there’s a lot of human traffic outside the shopping mall“.
Hackney Wick. Rosie, a lady on her fifties, a second generation Italian immigrant, owner of a “Home cooked/pastry“, a family-run fast food located in a sensible area. It seems she will be forcing to close down during the whole duration of the Olympics. Closing for “security reasons”. Perhaps because the image she might offer, as for the London Boaters and the ones who live in the housing projects, and the vendors in their stands at Stratford Underground Station, doesn’t fit with the one of the Olympics. In front of her shop there’s a massive sign saying: “10.000 vacancies for security service”. In their place there will be built vending stands managed by the most known chains, in line with the image of the Olympics. Caffè Nero, Costa, Pret a Manger and Starbucks. Let the regeneration begin.
Mike Wells –Photo Journalist
Currently living on a boat in East London, after the demolition of the building where he was living in Clay’s Lane, due to the regeneration project. Compulsive cyclist, he has no equal in knowing all about the Olympic site. Author of “Gold Dust”, a short movie about the existence of radioactive contamination on this area.
Apostle Ben – God’s General
Outside Westfield some evangelists hand out leaflets. We ask them about their community and church, that is in London Fields and it’s called “Tent of Testimonies”. The church is lodged into a former industrial unit where other religious services coexist as well. It’s one of these new rising Pentecostal charismatic communities of which Ben, of Ghanaian origin, is the forefather. It’s a violent approach, in camouflage uniform and crucifix, a world that preaches the super-terrestrial praying for the Queen and the Olympics.
Sue Jackson – Blue Badge registered tourist guide of the Olympic Village.
Sue was born in Putney, West London, but today she lives in London Fields, on east London. She defines Londoners as a population that adapts itself to adversities, wars, bombings, terrorist attacks, “we carry on, we go ahead”.
John Toland – Entrepreneur
John has travelled around the world as an entrepreneur and an investor in the energy resources business, getting to know and working with authoritarian regimes between Africa and the Middle-East. His view of capitalism clashes paradoxically with the show we are soaked in while we speak, a huge shopping mall at the entrance of the Olympic Village.
Rosie - Home Coocked Food
Rosie is a second generation Italian immigrant who manages a small fast food shop behind the stadium, where a big sign stands out to call upon the population to work at the Olympics, offering thousands of vacancies in security service. Her business will have to close down for the entire duration of the games, guilty of not being part of the large family of international brands.
Iain Sinclair - Writer
Writer and poet, a leading figure of the British Avant-garde of the ’70′s. Author of several books that explore London throughout psycho – geography, its streets, people, transformations, foolish property speculations. He has followed up the regeneration process since 2003, publishing Hackney, That Rose Red Empire first and Ghost Milk in 2011.
Julian Cheyne – Intellectual
Intellectual, activist, historian. Sixty years old, graduated from Oxford. Contributor of Games Monitor, the main network of people raising awareness about issues within the London Olympic development processes. Friend of Mike Wells, with whom our journey into the regeneration starts.
Robb Williams, Osita Madu.
Dwellers of the neighbourhood next to Westfield, they are afraid of eviction with no alternative, from their housing project where they still try to resist. Symbol of the urbanistic regeneration, but not of the social one. His flat stands at 17 floor inside a 70,s brutal tower block, overlooking the stadium, the last floor has already been assigned to BBC in order to follow the competitions. You can see the “Orbit” through the window.
This is not classical documentary about the Olympics. We’re building a film about the capitalism’s extreme unction, the explicit show of its decay. The paradox of austerity. As a kid trying to fill the sea with sand, a titanic and apocalyptic deed, I tried to understand the Olympics process, while it was going on in the city of London, where I moved for personal reasons, just when the virus was growing. What was going on in me was the approaching to a massive collective event, in the heart of capitalism, in the city from the colonial journey to the beginning of digital primitives. A unique opportunity to deal with people coming from a distant and mysterious district, Stratford. A different world, in the boundaries of the city, with diverse urban dynamics that upset commonplace, in a contest of unprecedented ethnic and linguistic contamination. This section is about my life, in a city that is subjected to the Olympics process, changing in life of people living around the district, before and after the event.
ZENDE MUSIC is the official curator of the original score for THE GOLDEN TEMPLE Zende Music is an international ensemble of musicians involved in live performing bashment and soundcraft. The term and idea of SOUNDCRAFT developed from the concept of POLITICA DEL SUONO (sound politics), an important landmark in the evolution of awareness that the music meaning is solidly attached to a spiritual way of living.>