Last Breath of Melbournian warehouse

This an attempt to make the most of the final days of a spacious warehouse in North Melbourne, now void of any life, before its meaning and beauty are forgotten. We occupied the space and invited artists to celebrate the last days of this soon-vanished construction. Now, the building and its final beautification will fully perish and on its grounds, yet another materiality will rise.

Last Breath is currently traveling. Write to tom@lastbreathproject.co.uk to remain up-to-date on next locations and to get involved, as a beautifier or exhibition visitor.

lastbreathproject.co.uk

Thanks to Dean Sunshine for helping to realise this episode: deansunshine.com

Artists involved:
@_Bailer
@cezarystulgis_cruel
makatron.com
facebook.com/jackdouglasart
psalmantics.blogspot.com/
heesco.com
conradbizjak.org/

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Last Breath of Vann Molyvann residence (Cambodia)

This episode features a traditional, soon-to-be demolished Vann Molyvann construction in the outskirts of Cambodia’s largest metropolis. In a city where citizens are evicted to fill lakes for commercial purposes and sudden high risers remain unoccupied, space is increasingly becoming a mere commodity. A traditional Vann Molyvann-designed residence is seeing its final light soon and as with all others, its meaning and beauty will soon be forgotten. The residence is part of the 100 Houses project, a group of buildings designed by Vann Molyvann (Cambodia’s most renowned architect), that rose in the sixties to provide accommodation to National Bank of Cambodia’s employees. Many of these wooden constructions have already disappeared, or fully been modified. We occupied one of the remaining spaces and invited artists Kong Vollak (Cambodian), Chifumi (French) and Al (French) to celebrate the last days of this soon-forgotten construction. Now, the building and its final beautification will fully perish and on its grounds, yet another materiality will rise.

Last Breath is currently traveling. Write to tom@lastbreathproject.co.uk to remain up-to-date on next locations and to get involved, as a beautifier or exhibition visitor.

 

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Last Breath of Blithehale Medical Centre

Yet an other of London’s intriguing constructions is currently seeing its final light: Blithehale Medical Centre, Bethnal Green. Once one of East-London’s prominent medical centres, it’s now a decapitated structure in the midst of human destruction. Its disease is uncurable. Before ultimate euthanasia, together with Phlegm, Run and Christiaan Nagel we snuck into the building in an attempt to brighten up its last days. A few days after, a 30-min unauthorised exhibition was held and finished off with a final good-bye. Now, the building and its final beautification will fully perish and on its grounds, yet another materiality will rise.

Write to tom@lastbreathproject.co.uk if you want to witness the next Last Breath of a remarkable, soon-to-be-demolished building or if you desire to be one of the next “beautifiers”.

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Last Breath of Blackfriars Cafe

In December 2013, Bisser gave Blackfriars Cafe in Southwark what it deserved: a one-off beautification before its materiality will be replaced by a residential construction on the back of regeneration plans in the area. Blackfriars Cafe closes its eyes after a brief lifetime of 35 years; half the expected lifetime of a human being. When Bisser finished, we gathered, photographed the work, admired the building and waved Blackfriars Cafe a final “good bye”. With the first beautification and exhibition behind us, we are currently preparing for the next episode.

Write to tom@lastbreathproject.co.uk if you want to witness the next Last Breath of a remarkable, soon-to-be-demolished building or if you desire to be one of the next “beautifiers”.

View Bisser’s work here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bisser/178049112247204

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When inspecting the building a couple of months ago, an elderly man appeared with his camera in his hands. He told me he drops by weekly to photograph the transition and decay of the building. He himself, used to go to the cafe as a teenager with his parents. The man shared nostalgic reminiscing and after taking his final picture, he remarked, “I am really sad this is happening, it feels as if a part of my childhood is being taken away from me”.

Demolition is murder

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As humans, we expect to experience a sudden burst of energy and consciousness before eternally closing our eyes. An overabundance of stimuli grasped and verbalized only by those having faced – and escaped – personal demise. This leaves me wondering: does a construction, right before its ultimate destruction, experience a temporary form of similar liveliness? Does it, depending on its (dis)satisfaction with its own life, hold its breath hoping the end is coming soon, or does it rather open its eyes, fully embracing its determined faith?

Maybe not exactly so. A Platonic, literal understanding is clearly deemed to dissent to this possibility of consciousness within non-human or non-animalistic entities. Yet, it’s to be argued though that dualist understandings of the concept – i.e. pure presence or pure absence of consciousness, without potential notions in between the two – are overly simplified. One might say buildings potentially gain a certain level of liveliness (perhaps not ‘consciousness’ in a classic sense) in the way that they are in constant state of becoming and in permanent interaction until death (and potentially even after). It does so without becoming the initiator of interaction, rather this sense of reciprocal ‘action’ is forced upon the establishment by its ungovernable surroundings.

At birth, many buildings receive a name and are referred to by that term until their ending, and beyond. Then, as soon as it is populated by individuals (for labouring, recreational or residential purposes), spaces are endlessly modified, both materially (alteration and addition of spaces, walls, decoration, windows) and in terms of meaning. The latter is affected by the temporary, individual characteristics of those occupying the space – including their current states of mind and behaviour – resulting in a constant flux of meaning. Within a very limited amount of time, a singular structure can shift from being the spatial idealised representation of one individual’s childhood, to signifying an other individual’s distressing last days alive. One structure, multiple layers of meaning and a plurality of identities. Like a living creature, a construction’s “body” and “soul” are never static.

If we start regarding constructions as creatures rather than structures, one can almost say demolition is murder. Not only murder of materiality, but also murder of meaning and memory.

The launch

 

 

London is one of the cities with the highest construction/destruction rate in the world. With this comes not only the rapid downfall of matter, but also that of memory. The only value we can add at that stage is a one-off beautification, right before a construction’s ultimate demise and characterless replacement. This is why we bring creators (of urban art, graffiti, art installations) and others together to celebrate and document. We, without permission, invade a building to ‘prepare’ it for its final liquidation. What happens after the temporary (one hour) exhibition is beyond our personal control.

To get involved, write to Tom@lastbreathproject.co.uk.