Friday, June 02, 2006

Canal Opens

Vyner Street. Doesn't matter how any times I go down there I always think it's like entering a scene from a horror film. Boarded up factories and closed down buildings. It's grey and it's grim. I always feel like one of the many shuttered gates will one day slowly rumble open and a bloodied, howling, stumbling creature of the undead will lunge forward, bits of flesh flapping from its bones, and with one long, eerie wail, call upon it's brothers, who slowly and inexorably appear from all the doors and windows down the street, like some evil army: panting, leering and jerkily looking for death...
Hell, what is wrong with me these days.
Anyway, there are no zombies tonight, especially not at number 29 which as been commandeered by a gang of bright things (Matthew Darbyshire, Anna Colin, Sarah McCrory, Olivia Plender, Melissa Franklin, Djordje Ozbolt and Celine Condorelli) with the idea to set up a project space for films, art, games and some very serious thinking over the next year. This is Canal (on Vyner). Tonight is the opening and there's a screening of three films to celebrate. There's a good crowd building when we arrive and everyone's talking and holding green bottles and there's a projector hanging down from the ceiling and, towards the back of the space, I notice a slightly forlorn row of fairy lights tangled round one of the ceiling supports. It looks nice. We get some beer and stand around looking. I spot Olivia Plender there, half heartedly making a shushing action at the gathering crowd - are you going to say anything? someone asks her. It looks like there may be some form of introduction to the evening, but then it's gone. The first film is suddenly running and we're off. We turn and look at the wall and start watching Ken Russell's The Light Fantastic (1960) and some geezer in a cockney accent talking about how much he loves Spanish dancing....
And people are still coming in and the chat is getting louder and everyone's rubbernecking to see who's here and a few people keep watching the film, but most start to talk and drink and smoke and stand around. The noise of everyone means that the film's soon drowned out. At some point the second film, Beehive by Jim Self and Frank Moore (1985) starts but by this time it's background. And when Screen Tests – Neil Cummings, Maria Lewandowska, Eileen Simpson, Ben White (2005) makes it up, it's wallpaper.
Anyway, it's opening night, it's busy and loud and everyone wants a piece of it. So, no worries. Canal will undoubtedly be an important space over the next year and there'll be some interesting stuff going on. I just suggest you get there early...
Eventually we fall out the doors and it's a street party. There's a bunch of folk who have come down from Maureen Paley's tonight and a 'performance' staged by Banks Violette which seems to have left most frustrated, confused or just simply pissed off. 'Mad' Mark McGowan's there and he hands me a flyer for this thing. There's a few people I know in the crowd and I say hello.
Luckily, none of them are undead.


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