Review by Jeremy Hunt of AAJ Press.
The 1948 London Olympics was the last to award medals for singing, painting, dancing and poetry. Art and culture in the current Olympics will always struggle for status in the context of alpha-ego architecture and a macho global televised sports event that is a platform for cultural nationalism and brand placement. The largest budgets for art and culture go towards the pyrotechnics and mass dance routines for a lobotomised global media audience. However the most interesting art that emerged in response to the Olympics in East London was generated by artists, writers, film makers, academics, photographers and activists who felt dispossessed and marginalised, not to say displaced, by the Games pantechnicon of enforced regeneration and the media control (propaganda) of language and images. The book is an important document that “examines both the political economy of the mega-event and the silenced history of Lower Lea valley, making a powerful case against the politics of erasure and the corporatisation of urban space. Issues of land grab, displacement, military urbanism and exceptional measures of legal protection are explored through essays, images, poetry, fiction and installations.” The artists’ projects are great fun involving illegal and subversive interventions around the site, which were usually swiftly removed by zealous security. These included graffiti, temporary viewing platforms, gps gatherings, ‘blue’ movies – which were films suitable for family viewing projected on the blue painted barrier walls of the site, and a 15-minute long film ‘The Games’ of an alternative democratic Olympics with highlights including hub-cap discus throwing and mattress trampolining, Once the Olympic family has moved on the strongest images of the games will be projected and remembered through ‘The ‘Art of Dissent’. The perfect LO2012 souvenir.