Space Studios
An Idea of Progress banner at Space Studios. Photograph: Russell Parton

A giant banner covering the entire facade of Space Studios on Mare Street was unfurled yesterday, inviting speculation that the building behind it may soon be demolished.

The banner is of the canvas type used in large-scale construction projects, and on it is a series of images drawn in that computer-generated style used in property development brochures to represent the future of a given site.

On the banner one can see a swimming pool, a tropical garden and a gravity-defying bendy skyscraper alongside the mind-bending slogan: “The future’s future is in construction.”

But what could be the next step in the ‘regeneration’ of Hackney is, in fact, part of a project about progress and the complexities of gentrification.

An Idea of Progress is by Ivan Argote, a 31-year-old artist from Bogotá, Colombia, who lives in Paris. As well as the giant hoarding the project comprises an exhibition of film and collages.

Over six months Argote visited construction sites across East London and interviewed residents, asking them what they thought about the developments going on around them; whether they liked them and what they would put there given the chance.

He combined his findings to create a fictional structure that he says represents the real desires of local people.

“I first came here in August and returned every month,” he says. “By observation and by talking with people I started noticing the aggressiveness of property development in East London. It’s way more violent here than in Paris. In Paris the market is more controlled, for example there are restrictions so that owners cannot raise rents more than 5 per cent a year.

“In Bogotá they’re developing new neighbourhoods. I remember when I was little boy in Bogotá there were empty fields. But it’s different because there’s not this gentrification phenomenon – the city is actually expanding into the countryside.”

The Idea of Progress exhibition opens on 21 January at Space Studios, 129-131 Mare St, Hackney, E8 3RH.





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