In this episode, we use the work of London-based rapper Gaika to explore the subject of London, talking to both Gaika and Ash Sarkar, a senior editor at Novara Media who has previously collaborated with Gaika, about the city’s near future and its recent past.
Gaika’s work covers a lot of themes, but his “Security” and “Spectacular Empire” projects are among the most incisive articulations of the mood that has pervaded London in the past decade. Produced in 2016 and 2017 respectively, these two projects cover a diverse array of themes: ranging from race, the built environment and the housing market, to technology, space, and security… all the while employing the time-honoured medium of speculative fiction to diagnose the present historical moment.
Casting a long shadow over this subject, as well as Gaika’s own work, the 2011 London Riots occupy a significant part of the initial discussion. Both Ash and Gaika speculate on the conditions which caused the riots and consider their implications for the future of the city, as well as society more generally.
From there, we move on to discuss London’s relative stability and the value of insurrectionary moments to a progressive urban politics, along the way making references to, among other things, defensible space, One Hyde Park, gnostic fantasies, that Redrow advert, and the ironic lightness of a possible communism that is not definable in any way.
References (in order of appearance):
“The Spectacular Empire – a future imagined by GAIKA,” Dazed Digital, 28 September 2017
The “Bifo” Ash is referring to is Franco “Bifo” Berardi, an Italian Marxist theorist who was heavily involved in the student uprisings of the 1970s, especially in Bologna, where he edited the magazine A/traverso and established Radio Alice, the first free pirate radio station in Italy.
I couldn’t find the quote about “the ironic lightness of actually existing communism” but his book Precarious Rhapsody has him reflecting on his experience in Bologna in the late 1970s (cf. p.26).
The David Graeber essay referred to is “Despair Fatigue”
The Tom Gann essay referred to is “A Path Through the Embers: A Militant Caring Infrastructure in South London”.
The section of Marx’s Grundrisse which Ash is referring to is Notebook VII – The Chapter on Capital.
GAIKA – Crown & Key
“Alistair Darling: We were two hours from the cashpoints running dry” The Independent, 18 March 2011
This episode was directed by Charlie Clemoes / the Failed Architecture team