Still is a project in three stages, exploring a variety of ways to breathe life back into vacated spaces:
1. the creation of a photographic and video archive of a vacated municipal building not open to the public;
2. an exhibition inside the vacated space itself, giving the space a renewed public function, and;
3. a collaborative literary art book combining photographs from the project with short stories inspired by them, allowing the photographs to travel from the physical space.
Stage 1: February to September 2010
Bakker created a photography and video archive of vacated interior spaces at Hornsey Town Hall – a north London municipal Modernist Grade II listed building not in public use since the 1980s. Traces of human presence and activity from distant and recent pasts were recorded.
For some photographs, objects unearthed from storage were positioned into invented settings. In the video, the building's dormant near silent spaces appear haunted as office doors creak, drawers slam and the battered out-of-tune piano is played.
Stage 2: exhibition, 4-7 November 2010
A selection of photographs and the video were exhibited inside the Borough Architects' and Engineers' Drawing Rooms at Hornsey Town Hall itself, giving the building a temporary public function. The exhibition opened on 4 November 2010, the 75th anniversary of Hornsey Town Hall.
Exhibition view (detail, inside the Borough Engineers' Drawing Rooms) at Hornsey Town Hall, November 2010
Still: Twenty eight framed C-type prints from negative film, 50cm x 50cm; six C-type prints from digital file, 25cm x 19cm, matt coated inkjet paper mounted on polypropylene sheeting.
Still (video, 13 mins, 2010): The Darkened Valley (1920) by John Ireland performed by Helen Kamminga at Hornsey Town Hall 6 August 2010. Superscription 'Walking along the darkened valley, with silent melancholy' by William Blake from Merry, hither come (1783).
Many thanks to Steve Amor, Ian Brinley, Mark Oliver, Elena Pippou and Lorraine Sparkes at Haringey Council. Rebecca Faulkner and Ann Wilks at Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust. Rommert Bakker, Darren Birch, Martin Crawley, Valeria de Donno, Jeroen Huisman, Jo Mieszkowski, Diana Miles, Ross Monaghan, Ricki Ostrov, Paul Savage, James Taylor, James Townsend, Frances Walsh, Phil Webb and Regina Wolek.
Stage three: a literary art book, September 2012
A literary art book combining new short stories and the photographs that inspired the writing was published by Negative Press London (editor Roelof Bakker, copy editors Nicholas Royle and Ros Sales).
The book includes contributions by twenty-six international writers alongisde the photographs that were the inspiration. Contributing writers are Richard Beard, Andrew Blackman, SJ Butler, Myriam Frey, SL Grey, Tania Hershman, James Higgerson, Justin Hill, Nicholas Hogg, Ava Homa, Aamer Hussein, Nina Killham, Deborah Klaassen, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Claire Massey, Jan Van Mersbergen, Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, James Miller, Mark Piggott, Mary Rechner, David Rose, Nicholas Royle, Preeta Samarasan, Jan Woolf, Evie Wyld and Xu Xi.
Independent bookshop Foyles on London's Charing Cross Road hosted an exhibition of photographs from Still featuring excerpts of related stories (18 September to 30 October 2012).
A short story competition for which writers were invited to submit a new short story inspired by a photograph from Still, was won by Yorkshire writer AJ Ashworth.
Still is short-listed in the Saboteur Indy Lit Awards 2013 for Best Mixed Anthology (April 2013). READ
C-type prints from negative film, 50cm x 50cm