An architectural icon of 1960s New-Brutalism in the East End and its current inhabitants. A large format film camera. An hour in November 2010. Ten exposures. One image. This is The Balfron Project.
At 27 stories high, Balfron Tower looms rather imperiously on the periphery of the city, an imposing and somewhat sinister gatekeeper to the sprawling metropolis. Designed by the renowned architect Ernő Goldfinger in 1963, the Grade II listed tower block has previously been used as both a setting and subject, often being included as the means to a post-apocalyptic end. Its dystopic influence can be felt in JG Ballard’s novel Highrise (1975), flashes of the tower in shades of scarlet rage set the scene for the Oasis music video Morning Glory (1995) and it also features in the British horror film 28 Days Later (2002) that depicts a society in a state of catastrophic collapse.
Conceived by artist Simon Terrill, this project does not seek to fictionalise nor expose the lives of those who call the tower home. What The Balfron Project has done, for the first time since the building’s inception, is to generate an arena for reciprocal viewing. For one hour in November, a camera was focused on the tower and the current residents of Balfron Tower were invited to be in the picture, in the manner of their choosing. Film lights illuminated the building as people crowded onto their balconies and improvised performances on the grounds below in time for the designated sound cue that was used to announce the next shot. In this representation of the Balfron Tower, it was the role of the character to compose the subject.
The Balfron Tower is the latest production in Simon Terrill's ongoing series of photographic performance events exploring ideas of community and the nature of crowds. The final mural-sized photograph features in the exhibition alongside related works and documentary footage by Ollie Harrop and Tim Bowditch.
Symposium: Thursday 20th January, 6.30 — 8.30 pm
Simon Terrill and a guest panel of invited speakers will discuss the conception and undertaking of this ambitious project.