With a mixture of Victorian memorabilia and sexualised Americanesque imagery the fair is seen as an island of pleasure to escape to within the urban world of toil. ”We can be anywhere” is a visual commentary on the sudden and imperialistic presence of the fair in the context of the twenty-first century inner city. The work also looks as its ability to take over its surroundings during its sojourn and whip up a frenzy of fun fun fun.
The work looks at the sudden arrival of a fun fair in an inner city area and its sprawl out of the fair grounds onto the surrounding streets. The work examines the frenzy whipped up by the thought of a funfair coming to town against the backdrop of the associated paraphernalia being assembled.
The photographs examine the imperialist hegemony of the visual language and sounds brought by the fair over the locals living in the area. The fun fair symbolises the hope of fun and excitement and a belief in the wild side of life. No matter which fair you will attend it can have the same rides, with the same mixture of Victorian and North American motifs and the same mix of excitement and danger. It is this mix of motifs (the use of flags and imagery used on rides and stalls) that creates a grandeur that is so removed from daily life that it can be seen as imperialistic.
The garish imperialistic liveries of the fair and the control of its presence has similarities to George Orwell’s 1984. The fair can be seen to have similarities to the “Prolefeed”. The funfair is a brand that is sold on the notion of fun fun fun. It is sold through flashing lights and loud music. There is a persistence to have fun and be entertained. Potentially one can sell faith in something by simply being persistent. If, in living memory a burger and fries has always been sold as a special treat and part of the fun experience- is this one of your cultural values or that of the corporation that sold it to you”. Where did the buy-in occur that sold you the notion that a burger and fries is a culturally nourishing treat?
The presence of the funfair throws up questions of whether it is wanted and how it comes into being. Unlike the travelling fairs of the past one family or corporation owns the new urban fun fair. Its presence is permitted and certified through a licensing deal with the local authority. The same cabal controls even the sideshow. All of the stalls and food vendors are controlled and licensed by the local authority. By commissioning the fair and thus controlling the investment in entertainment for the masses, the local authority can be seen as “Big Brother”.
The work is broken down into three chapters as follow.
Chapter one looks at the arrival of the fair and its construction. The frantic erection of the big, high, wide and loud takes much effort. All of the bright and flashy fripperies are unfurled from their flat-packed state. All of the components are cleaned and lined up neatly for the punters. The sideshows start early – food and fortune telling is ready for the early visitors who “just can’t wait”. As the smell of hot-dogs do-nuts and other double barrelled foods fill the surrounding streets the main part of the fair continues to climb into he sky.
Chapter two looks at the fun in operation and the excitement of visitors. A hive of excitement the fair is sold on the notion of escape and fun. However, this notion of fun is synthetic – it is contrived from popular culture and assumptions of what people want. Motifs of old and new celebrate a past we never had and a future we could ever aspire to. Machinery from Britain’s golden age gleam and share the skyline with golden eagles, the Start Spangled Banner and the confederate flag. The mishmash of motifs attempts to mix ideas of nostalgia, the “great west” and assumption of current pop culture to create an iridescent collage of synthetic hope.
Chapter three looks at the aftermath of the fair and the slow return to normality after the excitement. The horses and aliens are unbolted and crammed onto juggernauts ready for new punters in old cities. As the fair is folded back onto trucks and vans the pigeons descend to pick at the discarded remnants of chips and hotdogs. Pools of garbage are scattered across the fairgrounds and the local authority cleansing department swing into action. There is an air of melancholy as the prolefeed drives out of the fairground and on to the next port of call. The space used as the fair ground tries to readjust back its original state (a field or car park) and life, (though quietly) goes on.
The anticipation of old horses
Fortune Hill (1)
Fortune Hill (2)
In my front yard
Someone to watch over me
All in place
Arrived at the fair for some fun
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