London’s newest Borough
2012 – Performance / Installation
With Guerilla Architects
Niki Phoenix – website and logo
Hidden Borough is a city district present in every city, brought to life whenever ideas and people come together – a platform for the unexpected, unanticipated reversal of the daily grind. Everyone is in some way or another a citizen of Hidden Borough. While not easily located on a map, we are nevertheless easily accessible and open to any and all.
Every city has its gap, its unused resources, its vacant places but also people who have ideas and who decide to act on these ideas. We endure wherever our citizens decide to act, and are visible through their presence, brought to life through their actions – that is to say through your actions.
Cleaning the windows was the first step in bringing our message into the public realm. 55 Great Suffolk st. is no longer a blighted property, but through a simple act like cleaning the windows, its presence in the life of the city is reasserted. This gesture was also implemented at numerous other properties throughout the city with the aim of temporarily drawing attention to something that is most likely ignored in the everyday hustle and bustle.The color blue was part of the corporate identity we developed and helped camouflage us as an official institution. The presence of such an institution was not questioned by city residents but accepted as part of the system.Our actions – in this context – become ambivalent and ambiguous.The symbols we use are meant to suggest the possibility of accessing and the right to take part in a collectively shared and available urban space in order to redefine and redirect the development of the city. They encourage taking advantage of this right.Unused spaces and empty buildings are the “space in-between” in the city, in which time stands still and nothing changes, inaccessible to the public-at-large. Behind the door is a space, which one can change and design according to his or her own vision.
The law making squatting legal in England dates back about 700 years. Against the backdrop of the recent changes to section 6 of the Criminal Law Act of 1977 making squatting in residential properties a criminal offense, we wanted to create a symbol for not accepting further restrictions of movement or access to the collective urban space.
The city belongs to us all. Hidden borough is a call to adapt the space to your own needs and redefine its character. Not only buildings, but the entire urban space, meaning everything, including the river. In the middle of Thames, across from Battersea Park is a boat that has been anchored there for years.
We paddled out to it, and one of us stayed.