Bold Tendencies

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Whether we consider past, future or present, fiction has a critical role. It provides ways of knowing, understanding and questioning ourselves and our histories; of analysing our cultures and dreaming of new futures. Fiction is the catalyst for its contestation, and counterpart to prevailing notions of fact, truth and perception.

In the last decade our reality has permuted. It is more common now to ask, ‘Is this real or not?’ rather than, ‘Is this right or not?’ Truth, reality and fiction are at the fore of our cultural landscape and it would seem that fiction at times outperforms reality. Used to beguile, confuse and alienate, fiction is also form of hyperstition: conjuring into existence whole new worlds through the process of its own narration.

Siphoning from unearthed sewer networks to global FinTech skyscrapers, gothic carnival facades to suspicious and auditory happenings, our six new commissions together create a wealth of speculative visions that haunt and excite our imagination, representing the diverse and tumultuous landscape of our media, politics, social environments and culture: here the confluence of appearance, fiction and reality is all to play for.

LAWRENCE LEK, FTSE (Farsight Stock Exchange), 2019

FTSE (Farsight Stock Exchange) is a multimedia installation that imagines the architecture of decentralised financial services in an emerging age of smart cities. Set in a future London, the project revolves around Farsight Corporation: a fictional Anglo-Chinese technology company who acquire the Bold Tendencies car park site and repurpose the building for their inaugural real-estate bid.

Visualised through a fully interactive video game, Farsight propose FTSE, a prototype FinTech accelerator, housed within a pound (£) shaped skyscraper that soars a thousand feet into the air. Constructed on top of the existing car park, the tower contains algorithmic trading floors, FinTech incubators, server farms, penthouse lounges and smart-tech art galleries. Installed at the entrance to Bold Tendencies, visitors are invited to explore for themselves the digital world of Farsight Stock Exchange.

Lawrence Lek (b. 1982, Frankfurt) lives and works in London.

Photography: Damian Griffiths

LIZ GLYNN, Unearthed Underground, 2019

A sprawling network of tunnels across the car park roof, Unearthed Underground takes its reference and form from the original London sewer system designed by Joseph Bazalgette in 1865. As a teenage punk in the 1990s, Liz Glynn watched as indie and punk were subsumed by the market and now questions whether an “underground” is still possible in today’s global environment.

Equally inspired by the writing of Dostoyevsky, Victor Hugo and C.S. Lewis – where the underground represents a darker, fantastic and utopian space – Liz Glynn is equally concerned with historical cases of those members of society operating literally and figuratively in the shadows below ground. Liz Glynn likens the act of uprooting the sewer to the current political climate, where the social discomforts hiding beneath a society can no longer be ignored.

Liz Glynn (b. 1981, Boston) lives and works in Los Angeles.

Photography: Oskar Proctor


B takes the form of three abandoned black vehicles. These cars (of a type commonly associated with organised crime) are locked with tinted windows, no license plates and with a very low frequency audio track played periodically at high volume inside. The sound can be heard outside the car transmitted through vibrations in the vehicle body: a series of low frequency drones that build an atmosphere of suspicion and confusion.

Konrad Smoleński offers us an experience of the dissonant world that came to embody Poland and other post-Soviet countries during their difficult transition to free market capitalism in the early 1990s. During this period, a dramatic increase in private enterprise coupled with the decreased power of state police led to a flourishing of organised crime across Poland, The Balkans and the Russian Federation. These cars have since come to embody a universal feeling of perpetual social unrest and illusion, and point to alternative forms of power and control that exist beyond our visible perception.

Konrad Smoleński (b. 1977, Poland) lives and works in Warsaw & Bern.

Photography: Oskar Proctor

MATT COPSON, Agape (Infernal Cityscape), 2019

Drawing from Medieval legend and British popular culture, Agape (Infernal Cityscape) presents a large-scale airbrushed fairground facade. Framed by a hellish mouth with broken teeth and cracked lips, the facade’s melodramatic forms and gothic design emulates the furore and festivities of carnival – a place of temporary liberation from prevailing truths and established order.

Cast with a central viewing hole, Matt Copson’s sculpture frames and is framed by the city. It stands for a fantastical space: a peculiar civic environment that exists beyond the status quo, a place where new forms of identity and collective joy are encouraged and take place. That said, mirroring the carnivalesque excess of the city and its frequent lapses into disorder and chaos, the murder of crows that populate this mouth are a cautionary omen.

Matt Copson (b. 1992, Oxford) lives and works in London.

Photography: Oskar Proctor

MOMTAZA MEHRI, Towards A Quantifiable Measure of Longing, 2019

This new work by Momtaza Mehri (Young People’s Laureate for London 2018-2019) is animated by the honored tradition of the anti-manifesto. It embraces the potential of uncertainty in an age increasingly infatuated with absolutes. How you read or encounter the poem is your choice and your responsibility.

Poetry can destabilize the fiction of borders, national myths, the meritocratic fantasies of the capital-L Literature industry, citizenship as conditional legibility and all other inheritances we collectively write into imagination and law. Like reading a fairy tale backwards, the poem can be approached in many ways, from many directions and vantage points. It welcomes disaggregation and discontinuity. It begins with FREEDOM and ends with REFUSAL, attempting to carve out its own borderless republic somewhere in between.

Momtaza Mehri (b. 1994, London) lives and works in London.

Photography: Oskar Proctor

JENNY HOLZER, Inflammatory Wall, 2019

Jenny Holzer wrote her Inflammatory Essays between 1979 – 1982 during her time as a student on the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program. They present provocative statements inspired by the texts of political theorists, religious fanatics and impassioned folk literature and include words from Emma Goldman, Chairman Mao, Valerie Solanas and Che Guevara.

Each essay contains exactly 100 words in twenty lines, and uses this rigid format to explore a range of extreme ideas, setting fanatical statements against the certainties of common opinion. Originally conceived in an era of acute ideological debate, today these essays stand more powerful and relevant than ever. In an age where slogans define politics and social opinion is condensed to a limit of 280 characters, our exchange of words has never been more astringent and inflammatory than before.

Jenny Holzer (b. 1950, Ohio) lives and works in New York.

Photography: Oskar Proctor

SIÂN LYN HUTCHINGS, The Dominant Eye, 2018

Responding to the overload of visual media dominating our contemporary senses, Siân Lyn Hutchings developed this sonic library for the site, recording site’s ongoing and evolving aural history. The library is an evolving holding of field recordings made by visitors, members of staff and guests, archiving the wide variety of sounds that can be recorded on site, from orchestral music to dramatic readings of wall text, spoken diary entries to improvised poetry. These sounds are recorded on tape, indexed and installed in the Straw Auditorium.

Siân Lyn Hutchings (b. 1994) lives and works in Newcastle.

ADEL ABDESSEMED, Bristow, 2016

The title of Adel Abdessemed’s sculpture, Bristow, is taken from the signature work of the British cartoonist Frank Dickens (1931 – 2016), whose cartoon strip of the same title ran for 41 years in the Evening Standard.

Adel Abdessemed’s radical practice, which regularly invokes raw acts and swift, energetic drawings, produces pictures in sculpture, video and photographs. These works form a statement that hits you like a straight punch: pictures in action, not stories in pictures. His unique approach and the force of the work he makes brings the power of the image round to a matter of feeling and elevates it to a way into the world.

Adel Abdessemed (b. 1971, Algeria) lives and works in Paris.

Photography: Damian Griffiths

SIMON WHYBRAY, hi boo i love you, 2016


At the time a love letter, the message of this staircase represents the heartfelt anxieties of love: “I can’t just say ‘I love you’, it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t want to tell her, I want to show her. But I do want to tell everyone else. So I did.”

The bubblegum pink that covers all these stairwell floors resonates with iGen contemporary pop culture, symbolising the saturation of pink as an aesthetic trope for youth, wealth and even innocence online. The naivete of the colour also points to the infantilization of culture, materialising the logic of social media trends within an immersive and brutalist architecture.

Simon Whybray (b. 1984, Milton Keynes) lives and works in London.

Photography: Oskar Proctor


FLOURISHED brings together the combined practice of two young poets. Sophie Collins’ work is transfigurative and transformative, playing on translation methods and processual techniques to create poems that by turns reference history, structures and emotions. Sam Riviere’s poems work with the historical idea of the lyric; tormented, stunted, rooted and aware of difficult histories that surround how poems address us. FLOURISHED brings together imagined memorials from a poet’s workings. Cryptic and scattered, imagined and real, these indelible fragments of poems show the cycle of what it means to be remembered by their permanent presence here on site.

Sophie Collins and Sam Riviere live and work in Edinburgh.



Painted in aluminium rich paint (a standard roof finish in New York), Richard Wentworth’s Agora covers the entire surface of the car park. Mirroring the ever-changing weather conditions on site, the reflective design unifies and activates the space. The deceptively simple patterning has been compared to silvery snail trails as much as the decorative energy of Southern Europe’s traditional paving and textiles.

The work pursues Richard Wentworth’s long held passion for the meeting point between spatial conditions and social reality. Agora, a Greek word for gathering place, also shares an etymological root with ‘gregarious’, highlighting the work’s ambition to bring the space to life for the many people who come to visit. Agora emphasises the ‘polis’, the way we behave collectively in the city. Ironically, while we stand on Agora, probably in conversation, we can also witness the city which harbours us.

Richard Wentworth (b. 1947, Samoa) lives and works in London.


The Derek Jarman Garden was designed by Dan Bristow (Propagating Dan). It is inspired by artist and film-maker Derek Jarman (1942-1994), who left behind an extraordinary legacy in the form of his garden at Dungeness in Kent, recognised as a spectacular artwork in itself.

Derek Jarman’s own garden is located in the wild, dynamic landscape of Dungeness with its expansive shingle beach, lighthouses and power stations; the Derek Jarman Garden here at Peckham honours its essence with the garden as an organic foil to an urban, at times hostile, environment in the way that the seascape influenced the design of the garden at Dungeness. The Derek Jarman Garden at Bold Tendencies will always be in a shifting state, and through it we hope that Derek Jarman’s ideas continue to be explored and brought to new audiences.

The Derek Jarman Garden was commissioned by Bold Tendencies as part of the artistic programme curated by Joe Balfour with Greta Hewison in 2013, welcoming the original Dungeness garden’s colour and magic to the site to flourish against the harsh climate of the car park. The Garden here was imagined by Keith Collins (1966-2018) long-time companion of Derek Jarman and keeper of the Dungeness legacy, with the critical guidance and support of David Gothard.

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