The Top-Secret Archive in South London: a Word about 56 A

The Top-Secret Archive in South London: a Word about 56 A

Hidden but not so far, 56 A is a collective settled in S1 from the 80’. Members are of anarchist orientation, hence they avoided paying the rent until 2003 when most of their space was evacuated by the police. Nowadays the group organizes the remaining rooms selling books, keeping an archive, and helping people with their bikes. Although this kind of practices is now considered proper ‘hipsterism’ and new age, the collective distinguishes itself by accepting no founds and respecting the uneasy rules of a socialist living while committing to the memory of anarchism.

“I can’t say that I’m personally thrilled by the idea of anti-G8 protests or the Dissent! rented social centres but I can’t categorically say that something radical or worthwhile will not come out of them. I dont think the anyone would class these centres as ‘direct action’ but there must be an increased possibility of affinity or direct actions happening as a result of social interactions. Any of the famous counter-summit meetings of the last few years had a legal relationship to the State (permission to march, legal zones, sleeping places etc.) but it didn’t stop individuals and groups taking direct action from within these structures”

(Text by Nothing,2016)


The entrance to the collective is located in 56 Crampton Road, but has the guise of a D.I.Y bike shop where you can learn how to fix your bike and buy replacement pieces. As we get in, we find a small room where some people are sitting and chatting. The room is the Radical Archive, it contains publication covering anarchist theories, communist thinkers and living examples of political association that include the history of movements like Zapatistas, Situationists and Sindacalists.

The room’s walls are overcrowded with such dossiers categorized by country: France, Italy and Germany dominate. But the little space does not serves as a memorial to consult only, but also sells articles and books mainly concerning radical theories against capitalism, individualism and racism. They refer to as communists but the literature sold in the shop does not include the party system but remains on the side of associational socialism and community living against the empire and dominant state of government.


According to this belief, they sell independent magazines, known as ‘zines’ which illustrate social and environmental causes to the general public together with academic (but always radical) essays and posters, grouped by unusual categories: environment, punk movement, anarchism, communism, socialism, syndicalism, art theory, human rights, gender etc.


The collective is a multicultural community organizing gig’s, selling anti mainstream food products (as Zapatist coffee) and doing workshops for squatting. However, as we talked to the oldest member, we got to know that the group was facing a moment of decadence due to their submission to the rent and the scarce income from book selling. “Being completely unfounded, the kind man told, we are facing hard times”, and seemed less committed to the cause of decisive action because “I have no time for doing anything”.


This narrowed space is hidden jewel of persisting ideology, solidarity and inspiration for real radical thinkers. The fact they are now paying the rent does not mean that they have been absorbed in the system because the books they sell are unique and usually excluded by mainstream libraries and academies .Since squatting is approved by the UK law but what happens next (giving food and entertainment without license) is not, by keeping squatting workshops and acting as a network for squatters too, 56a promotes the humanitarian idea association and help hampered by rules of bureaucracy and economy.

References (2016). 56aInfoshop. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2016].


Oulipo : on Verbal Expressionism

When Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs Dolloway in 1925 she introduced the technique of the interior monologue,  which freed writing from traditional praxis and allowed a fluent recollection of past a present impressions, with such devices such as flashbacks and theme digression.

Hence, sentences  are really long, only 8 eight dots figured in the 300 word text, thus showing the fluent shifts between different thoughts but also the tendency towards obsession that is overthinking.

The book does not follow a chronological order. Instead, it floats through subjective time and switches location  as the character is reminded by something else by the sight of something.

And as she began to go with Miss Pym from jar to jar, choosing, nonsense, nonsense, she said to herself, more and more gently, as if this beauty, this scent, this colour, and Miss Pym liking her, trusting her, were a wave which she let flow over her and surmount that hatred, that monster, surmount it all; and it lifted her up and up when – oh! A pistol shot in the street outside!

(Woolf, Mrs Dalloway)


Virginia Woolfs attempt destabilizes the writing tradition and liberates content from the constraints of  chronology. It’s a modernist approach, the one she adopts, radically discarding the rules of the past. Her writing style, which employs the stream of consciousness technique, is charged with emotions and reactions that distort the world because show the view of character on universe with personal physical laws.

Although the book was inspired by the freudian theories of subconscious, Virginias’s anachronistic writing, is adherent to a the logic of dispersion: a set of rules and devices that the writer follows and employs for the construction of her narrative. Hence, the fact that the text does not appear logical does not mean that it is.

Virginia’s is a pillar to modernist explorations in literature: her example would have been followed by many experimental poets such as the futurists and surrealists. By cutting with representational language she opens up a new poetic of hyperrealism that exaggerates her space travels by focusing on particular words, their order, their position on the vocabulary and their lexical manipulation as method for composing verses.

In the post war period, following a violent repression of speaking rights and the imposition of totalitarian categories over written language, Europe saw the advent of a progressive group of writes and mathematicians , grouped under the name of OULIPO (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle) that decided to revolutionise structures of literary composition.

They came up with mathematical exercises that could have applied to language such as numerical succession and numerical patterns. One of the most delightful examples is the integration of the problem ‘Knight’s Tour of the chess-board’ and permutations with the  use of the vocabulary: the result was the exercise Oulipo N+7 according to which the second verse, starting from a significant sentence, would be the equivalent of the first one with its nouns displaced by the seventh word that is following them on the vocabulary.




Nowadays there is the ‘N+7 Machine’ a website that generates your second verse. By submitting the sentence

‘A prozac a day keeps the health service away’ (which is a new proverb invented by another Oulipo’s member Francois Caradec)

the server gives you over N+15 answers according to the Oulipian rule

as long as we go down sentences seem to lose any apparent connection to the first one until we get to answer number 15 where our verse is transmuted in

‘a prozac a dean leaves the heath sex away’

The Oulipo’s aim was to transcend traditional structural constraints such as sonnets and sestina in order to create new fixed structures of composition that the modern poet could have filled with their own material. As Virginia was imposing a structure with all the long sentences and surprising links and flashbacks so did the Oulipo proposed a new set of rules which where surprisingly logical and strict but created abnormal sentences without an evident link.

One of the most striking application of the group devices was made by George Perec in his lipogrammatic novel “A Void”. The Novel is really famous because of the absence of Es which make it still readable but create a sense of discomfort and lack in to the reader. Using the easyest of the arithmetical tricks, subtraction, the author convey the secret theme of the book, the lack itself.

The void is noir telling about  group of human looking for a missing companion (probably referring to vowels and the E). Perec’s dismissal of the vowel from the story has a meaning that goes beyond the history. When he was young he had to leave his parents due to the second world war, when he was sent to Paris to save himself from concentration camps. Considering that in french ‘sans e’ (without E) sounds like ‘sans eux’ (without them), it clear that the his trick, which may be discarded as mere disruptive, is the finest analysis of the word as a material which has  the guise of a work of  art : evocative and expressionist.




Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1925. Print.

Christian, Peter. “N+7: Generated Text”. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.


“Oulipo: N+7”. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Mathews, Harry, Alastair Brotchie, and Raymond Queneau. Oulipo Compendium. London: Atlas Press, 1998. Print.

Narratives and Vision: Self Expression is never impossible


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“Checking each line, each variation,once, twice, increasingly the project was about keeping count and making sure”

Caroline Bergavall, a poet living in London, made an experiment on identity thought the translations of Dante’s Inferno first stanzas. She claims that the translations of the famous poem have become a sort of ‘cultural industries’ where she want to collaborate by creating a poem of her own that compares forty-eight interpretations of the same content thus showing the subjectivity involved in the act of recreating the ambient with different means of expression.



The expression “Creating an Ambient” can relate to the physical  sphere too. Different means of expression allow the atomization of feelings belonging to cultural history and people, but abstraction is the key: by elevating the sensible stimuli to the heights of our intellect and working with ideas, the possibilities of references and tool’s practical usages can expand infinitely and  of change the public’s perception of events .


The ways to reach a satisfying expression of a given context can be imagined before and taken into action later hence, categories of images,words,sounds and performance, can branch out in many direction for the idea to be communicated and understood. According to the study  by S.Grimaldi & al a narrative can be built on five complementary levels of requirements that are exemplified in Fig n.1 :

                            Representation of events
Causality or agency
                                                                                                                                                                                  Values and emotions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Conflicts & Climax






Fig. 1

Each level of narrative requires all the previous elements to be fulfilled and  when producing  complex narratives ( from D3 to D5) the author can emphasise one aspect  amongst the other, either enlightening the importance of the morale or insisting on the emotions of the character(s).

In the practice of design the narrative builds a relation between the product and the user but also can help the designer to get inspired by the user and its personal stories.Design can create a whole narrative which could evoke emotions to the user thus maintaining an emotional relation  trough time.

Objects of unpredictable outcomes, such a cash machines and card reader cannot help but  filling us with expectations and creating suspense for the moment of truth, when we get our money or find out we are broke. This object, even if not the most loved one, creates a narrative with its user who will remember of the time spent with the object and her feelings about it.

At a macro level, the design process can also be inspired by the history belonging to the client it is meant to satisfy. A striking example is city of Kiruna, built around a iron mine that provides 90% of iron to Europe. The heavy excavations put the stability of the city at a risk, hence when they decided to build it White Arkitekter planned a strategy for the removal of the whole city, house by house, to at least 20 km away from the mines.


Kiruna masterplan by White Arkitekter at the Venice Biennale, 2014 

Besides proving  a good balance between casualty and agency, a well-planned design strategy accounts of user’s feelings with ethical values, thus building a strong narrative between the designer and the people whose lives she is innovating.

kiruna plan

The city will be moved 20 km away from the expanding iron mines by the year 2033

Zooming in back to the microword we see that the system of objects can be simple and complex. When creating a narrative around a minimalist object the designer can emphatise with the user. The monotone stickers which were exposed at the Pick Me Up: Graphic Design Festival this year, are an example of user involvement with the designs that were then posted on a wall with the visitors’ own scribblers. A pack of Grayjam’s can be purchased for creating your own, unique stickers and put them around.

greyjam stickers

Whether it is to inform, inspire, educate and delight, an object with a narrative has a stronger influence on people’s life, here, more than now that we rely mostly on computers for our own education and information thus alienating ourselves from the everyday practice of learning trough experiencing.



“Masterplan By White Arkitetker For City Relocation Of Kiruna, Sweden”. Dezeen. N.p., 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.


Grimaldi S., Fokkinga S., Ocnarescu I. (2013) Narratives in Design:’A Study of the Types, Applications and Functions of Narratives in Design Practice’,   Praxis and Poetics

STILLS in EXPLORATION: a visit to the British library trough images



The British Library is an imponent building which architecture is capabale of creating new perspectives as you proceed trough its spaces.


The bright main hall develops on three consequent levels stretching in from the bottom of the room to the entrance. The latter is bigger in scale but contains less people that are mainly grouping in the raised space which can be considered a recreational area where exhibitions and events often occur.

The building is tall and orthogonally deep, hence, the ground floor develops on the sides with exhibitions and gift shops before subsiding gradually to the lower rooms that serves as a cloakroom

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The building is tall and ortogonally deep, hence, the ground floor develops on the sides with exhibitions and gift shops before subsiding gradually to the lower rooms that serves as a cloakroom


From the recreational area, visitor have an instant appearance of the (enlarging) structure of the building. Three White stripes raise abruptly on the common ‘agora’: there are three ways of getting upper and changing completely the perception of the spaces.

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My friend is the small humanoid at the third floor; he is taking a picture of me standing still at ground floor. While he is alone, I am surrounded with moving people since an exhibition celebrating Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is entertaining families and readers.




The Unassailable Fortress


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As I proceed through the lengths of the first floor  the lights in the corridors decrease quickly enough to enlighten the magnificent ‘tower’ of the library: The King’s Archive

Although the archive is inaccessible to the general public it raises throughout the three floors of the library. A labyrinth of corridors encircle the structure on all sides but maintain a distance from the passengers as a sort of fortress with its trench. The collection belongs to King George III and contains books (65,000), monographs, pamphlets (19,000), manuscripts and volumes of maps, printed mainly in Europe and North America between the 15th and early 19th centuries. A double exposition here concentrates different views from the four sides of the structure (photo n.3).


Designing the Public Space

Outside of the reading rooms which are accessible only with a membership card, people can get a seat to benefit from the inspiring walls of the national archive.

Here people feel comfortable to relax, read and talk. In the bar is easy to come across editors and writers discussing plots and development times, heavy typers and their laptops or simple newspaper’s readers that enjoy the atmosphere of reciprocal concentration.

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People seem to relate to the environment  in an informal way, turning public spaces in their own comfort zone.


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Pick Me Up: Graphic Art Festival

From Thursday 21 April until Monday 02 May 2016, the Somerset House is hosting a collaborative project which brings together 30 selected artist that have graduated from art schools and set their own studio in the past three years.

The display covers three floors of the gallery with different approaches to graphic design. Being a collaboration between artists, external and internal curators of the Somerset’s the exhibition is really democratic. This is reflected in the space planning which gives each artist a wall for their works and the possibility to perform some live art in the ‘Kiosk’ each day, on turn.

Treated differently, the spectator is also brought into the practice of graphic design and its exploration. Materials, models, trials, and sketchbooks essential to the artists for the development of the final artwork are presented to the public thus celebrating the creative process and the artists genial links between materials and contents.

By being exposed to unfinished work (like a ceramic mockup model of a 90s mobile phone) your brain is forced to think: making connections to what we see as disconnected and conceptually meaningless. The confrontation with various processes of thought involves us into an act of interpretation prior to being given a solution by the finished artwork which often results unexpected.


This is the case of Isabel+Helen’s interactive design structure: the (un)matched parts are disposed on a table in a way that clearly shows resemblance to the fixed statue of intersecting forms and materials. From the notes on the table we get to know that the constructivist artists have researched  kinetic movement,hence we make links by ourselves while suddenly  the air is shaken by the whole structure moving and making metallic sounds.

Sketchbooks are incredibly useful to develop a complex idea of visual representation; reading such a private self expression encloses the author to the sensible public but also allows the eye to  develop a critical thought towards the artwork instead of elevating and detaching worlds.

Today I have  assisted to the democratisation of the eye and the opening of an access in the  double field of vision and sensible experience : Creation and Contemplation.

Live art from the selected artist, letterpress workshop, stickers on a wall as a guestbook and comics workshop juxtapose the formal exhibition downstairs involving the public in the relationship between the artist and its job and developing in them another prospective from which to observe and analyse the creative genius.

Graphic design is nowadays really facilitated by the spread of planning softwares which save time and maximise production. The character of repetitiveness, proper to graphics must be taken into account when it comes to place prices. The price tags ( which were also considering of the ‘invisible yet visible’ frame) where clearly explanatory: graphic design is a low price, democratic form of art.

On the other side, when applied, graphic design was beautifully increasing the value as Hato’s collection of mere sketchbooks, pencils, cups, bags and postcards shows.


(a pencil costed me £ 1).

This exhibition really statisfied me as an artist interested in materials and techniques but really surprised me for its covering of all aspects of creativity: thinking, planning,creating and selling.



Everything is illuminated

Being a street artist means abandoning the idea of immortality and infinite for a deal with time.

‘art is made on the streets when urban elements are used as an ‘artistic resource’ N.A. Riggle, claims referring to the the arts on the street. The art’s street is created by an artist conscious of the ephemeral character of his artwork since unseparable by the environment on which it is laying. Works deteriorate and are often removed because of the effects of times and time’s people.

The close connection between art and the everyday life elevates the state of art to the human state, that one of personal observation and protest. Art becomes an instrument in the hands of the artists to liberate art from critics thus entering the kingdom of free, radical expression, which should be the public space, a place that today has no such meaning.

By pushing art in to the public street artist launch a big message over the current practices of eletist museums. In the digital era, everyone has a voice and approaches the privileged knowledge, without the need for material possession. Also by being avaible on the screens, insight knowledge is in the hands of users -even if democratic it has the same functioning of the more traditional archive structure without being philosophically conservative: it is containing memory raising as a sort of ‘oasis’ of individual rehab from a ugly outworld. To liberate the creative duo of ‘hand’ and ‘mind’ and its beautiful (live) contemplation, the street art movement permits an open observation that creates a true collective memory as well as the web.

Art is consumed by the public as an amusement which does not alienate but gathers together in the so called ‘public spaces’. Moreover, by appearing in public space it has a direct effect on the situation people live in because it gives grey, unseen places, (which were however designed by someone) a true recognition as practical transformations of the ugly.


“Anyone who wants to see the light clearly needs to wipe his eyes first.”


El Seed work is a composed graffiti which is visible only from a specific building, celebrates the neighboorhood of Mokkatam Mountain in Cairo, where people make a living out of garbage recycling.



Street art finds its ideological roots into the voice of the Letterist international a French movement which advocated the destruction of the piece of art, within the institution, to end up the its moral poisoning that aims at reconciliation to a dominant state of things. They advocated the activity of ‘absence’ according to which the work of artistic expression should be ‘negated and preserved’ as a destruction that screams the desire of presence, into the everyday not as a possession.

Street art does not represent a destruction but is a creation over another creation. Street artist are finally offering a new stand point surpassing the previous  postmodern conception of the bringing daily objects o into the art world (N.A. Riggle, 2010). By filling plain spaces within the street environment they leave a mark demonstrating  the presence of different standpoints and voices sensitive to the planned strategy for crowd’s movement.

And as they move and the city changes so does the artwork. It part of our daily life, and sees the time passing on her brick’s skin. The act of  Blu on of the contemporary italian pioneers of the genre, defended this fundament by destroying his pieces which were intended to be ripped of the walls and incorporated into the exhibition “Street Art. Banksy & Co. – L’arte allo stato urbano” of Bologna.

The deal with time that every street artist should make is essential to their productivity because it develops a special sense with walls, trains, benches and everything that is ignored in our daily run has, as creative space.Bringing beauty and amusement into the life of every citizen, street art and it voices must be protected and legitimized as a right to restaurate and use, the space and its structures to express himself, in a non violent and intelligent way.



Riggle, N. (2010). Street art.

Rasmussen, M. (2004). The Situationist International, Surrealism, and the Difficult Fusion of Art and Politics. Oxford Art Journal, 27(3), pp.365-387.

Ming, W. (2016). Street Artist #Blu Is Erasing All The Murals He Painted in #Bologna – Giap. [online] Giap. Available at: [Accessed 4 Apr. 2016].

Whats in a t-shirt?


The way we dress has always been a statement.

Nowadays our coverage is a personal communication to Others around us: personal interests, passions, strengths and weaknesses.

According to Boris Groys, since Nietzsche diagnosed God’s death people have lost their faith and now, in England, 25% of the population is atheist. The effects on the cultural side are far more extended: Groys claims that people abandoned rigid moral codes of internal individuality and have begun to ‘design‘ themselves externally in the fashion of individualism and globalization (2016).

Clothing has never been more specific than now. If we have look back at the beginning of the 20th century, it is easy to spot a communal fashion, expressing money values and radical to the past.


20s women style



30s women style



1920’s dressing codes


This i people tho more about desiging themselves internally, shaping their moral codes and rules for life. Wrapping, where not purist still, but homologated and carried the (hidden) message of social class membership only.

“It occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.”

― F. Scott Fitzgeraldthe Great Gatsby

The book the Great Gatsby suggests that the rich bourgeois class emerged in the twenties, beautiful embroidered clothes where representing their conquests on society together with such goods as private cars, cigars and jewels. However, no commercial statement was gathered by such clothing icons, no content behind those pearls, neither brand nor logo to affirm the existence of the costumer as a specific consumer.



The Great Gatsby 2013


The Great Gatsby 2013


The Great Gatsby 1974


The Great Gatsby 1974

We become specific consumer when we get together on behalf of likes. Accessibility to the clothing market has created new subcultures that emerge by means of appearances one day and disappear the day after. One day we look fascinated by the universe and aliens the day after we resemble a woodman. Clothing versatility  in our society, allows a faster shift into different groups of people thus making us  actors of the universe we represent dressing in a particular manner.


However, when we dress printed clothes, we become a much powerful symbol, we indicate a direction just like a street sign. This, of course, is both bringing people to you, but also deviating them to another direction. More often individuals, can only be lovers while not really participating to what is the t-shirt showing. This is because retailers and designer are often detached from the primary source of their creation hence often stealing images and making money without giving profit to the work of art they are advertising.

In the digital era, when the most images we see are taken from private websites and copied by their content, not only the whole picture and artist’s vision gets lost, but as long as we share and send the content of this little fragments gets damaged and loses pixels, printed t-shirts can be used as metaphor to describe the degradation of great work of art trough an uncontrolled commercialization of content (, 2016).

If we are fascinated by a movie, like Space Odyssey (Kubrick 2001), it is because of its powerful concepts such as the restlessness of discovery, the triumph of nature over the artificial and the experience of infinity, described in a sequence of images. These magnificent ideas are visualized in the whole distension of the movie but can they be really transmitted in a cropped image?


Since movie lovers are not the only ones who would buy an Odyssey’s potential t-shirt how is the message of the movie spread around, and moreover does the movie gain some more value from the t-shirt purchase?



The problems around the importance of referencing can thus be extended to the clothing industry which, with its low prices allows a wider customization of ourselves but detaches its public from its potential. Our personal way of ‘choosing’ clothes from the shops seems over controlled because we are actually buying things that have been already chosen by others but can be revolutionary when we encounter certain institution that require codes of appearance. These institution still relate clothing with believing while mass consumerism transform us into likers, hence we don’t dress like astronauts because we don’t really want to be that way.

Hence, should the clothing industry of printed t-shirt, which are a direct statement that viewers consider us to be doing, follow the social media trend of indirect and useless attachment to causes around the world or give a credit to what is represented thus acting like an active financial supporter?


References (2016). The Obligation to Self-Design | e-flux. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Apr. 2016]. (2016). In Defense of the Poor Image | e-flux. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Apr. 2016].

.Fitzgerald, F. and Bruccoli, M. (n.d.). The great Gatsby.