Hackney Wicked is an art festival dedicated to showcasing local art and celebrating the rise of a new generation artists. Everything from existing galleries, studios, pop-up art boutiques to barbeques, sound system parties, the burning of a wicker man and live gigs will come together for a weekend of fun and Cultural Learnings of Hackney Wicked for Make Benefit Glorious Visitors.
Nomadic Projects, one of the newcomers at the festival’s second outing, is setting up their Museum of Hackney Wick in homage to the area, but also to highlight the changes it’s facing with the Olympics and how people living there will be affected. Dazed Digital sat down with Emma Hammer, one third of Nomadic Projects, to get the lowdown...
DD: What is Nomadic Projects? Emma Hammar: It’s a curatorial partnership formed by myself, Louise O'Kelly and Pau Cata. We aim to promote emerging artists whilst documenting communities and specific areas that are in flux. Our first exhibition, The Museum of Hackney Wick focuses on an area undergoing major changes as a result of London hosting the Olympic games in 2012. We encourage artists to create histories through documentation and collaboration in order to represent the different realities of an ever-changing urban landscape.
DD: Do you all live in Hackney Wick yourself? Or close by? Emma Hammar: Louise used to live in Hackney Wick but left when rents started to rise. Currently none of us live there, although we all live in Hackney, as do most of the artists that we are working with. Nomadic Projects will work like a travelling museum; we are therefore never claiming an area as our own. By sourcing local artists we aim to have an insider perspective on events affecting the people based in the area.
DD: The Museum of Hackney Wick takes place in a disused shop space – these kind of ‘pop- up’ places seem to be all the rage at the moment? Emma Hammar: Yes, I guess you could call us a pop-up museum! Every recession has seen artists and arts facilitators making use of the empty shop spaces that inevitably will crop up, like when Tracy Emin and Sarah Lucas set up a shop during the 1992 recession.
DD: The idea was to engage with the local community – how has their response been? Emma Hammar: Good. Since we are dealing with issues that will literally change people’s lives, for good or bad, engaging members from the local community has been fairly easy. I think people recognise that we are genuinely trying to involve them and that we are interested in their role in the community and area.
DD: What's the general feeling towards the regeneration – good or bad? Emma Hammar: It depends on who you talk to. I think that generally there is a worry because no one really knows what will happen and that makes people scared. Hopefully The Museum of Hackney Wick will highlight these issues and work as a productive response to what is happening in the Wick. Local artists don’t seem overly keen, but I don’t think that everyone sees the changes as something negative.
DD: A Hackney Wick Museum! Does that mean that the area's creative high is over and needs to be documented for the next generation? Emma Hammar: Quite the opposite, Hackney Wick seems to be on a creative high at the moment, with the Hackney Wicked festival, new galleries and bars and cafes popping up. The Museum of Hackney Wick will be situated in an imagined future where Hackney Wick as we know it has ceased to exist, and from this future we will speculatively analyse the area’s remains through a shop selling Hackney Wick memorabilia, a café, performances and other activities remembering that past lost now forever.
DD: Can anything good come out of the re-gen and Olympics? Where will all poor artists move now? Emma Hammar: Hopefully they won’t have to move, but looking at what has happened to areas like Spitalfields and Hoxton it might seem unavoidable. South London obviously looks like it’s gearing itself up as a new creative hotspot, but people may just have to move further and further out.
DD: How did you find the artists you exhibit? Did you have any special criteria when approaching them? Emma Hammar: We work for various galleries, museums and arts organisations in London and have through that been able to build up a large network of artists. Some of the artists have a background of working with community groups, like Gabriella Talavera who has worked together with HW Senior Citizen Centre, and Sandra Schindler who has created sculptures out of materials that she found on the Olympic Site. Others, like Leigh Niland and Stephen Gill have strong associations with Hackney Wick from their previous portfolio, and we felt strongly about including them. DD: Getting Hackney photographer Stephen Gill is a bit of a coup... Emma Hammar: Stephen is a really lovely and approachable guy, who’s very passionate about the area. We approached him and explained a bit about the project, and he just thought it was a great idea and was keen to help us out.
DD: Do you have any personal favourites among the exhibitors? Emma Hammar: Since we are working with ten artists of different disciplines it’s impossible to say. Saying that, I am very excited about Jim Fisher and Jon Glazier who will be on constant “display” as exhibits of artists at work.
DD: Tell us briefly about the Hackney Wicked Festival – it's their second year, did you go last time and what are their highlights this year? Emma Hammar: The people who set up the festival are the owners of the few galleries in the area [Mother Studios, Elevator Gallery, Schwartz and The Residence]. Last year’s was very last-minute and not everyone in the area was sure whether to get involved or not, but the opening night was a huge success with hundreds of people attending, and parties going on all over the place. This year will have really amazing performances, events, and an art fete, live music the Burning of the Wicker Man and more.
DD: What’s next for Nomadic Projects? Emma Hammar: We are looking for funding to keep the Museum as a long-term project. I think London is a really exciting place to be at the moment, there isn’t a lot of money around but there’s a real spirit of entrepreneurship. We share that feeling and want to make some sort of comment on what’s happening in society at the moment. So watch this space!
Nomadic Projects is a curatorial partnership formed by Emma Hammar, Louise O'Kelly and Pau Cata. Nomadic Projects aims to facilitate the promotion of emerging artists whilst documenting communities and specific areas. By questioning traditional gallery displays Nomadic Projects will encourage artists to create histories through documentation and collaboration in order to represent the different realities of an ever-changing urban landscape.