a diorama of fast moving images.
Part documentary, part poetry, part catalogue
One weekend in the middle of October 1974 the French writer Georges Perec set himself a challenge – to describe everything that happened in place Saint-Sulpice, Paris. Not a record of the buildings or history of the square, but a record of ‘that which is not noticed, that which has no importance: what happens when nothing happens’.
40 years later writers Nathan Penlington and Sarah Lester replicated Perec’s experiment – with a few important similarities and a few significant changes, most notably relocating to a square in London, a small insignificant square in the North East borough of Hackney. In a major departure from the original protocol this is more than the work of one writer, a collaboration between two observers with differing sensibilities and styles – the overlaps and deviations of the simultaneous accounts underlining the impossibility and futility of the task.
Part documentary, part poetry, part catalogue – An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in London is more than a homage, it is a surprisingly witty, tender exploration of urban life.
Published by Burning Eye Books, illustrated by Hackney based illustrators and photographers: Laura Phillimore, Elisa Mantovani, Dougie Harley and Nicola Gaudenzi. Cover image by Keira Rathbone.
"“When I heard about the project my first reaction went something along the lines of what a great idea but will it work as a book? But it does. The observations draw on human experience, are self-aware, witty, plaintive and tender”"