Conference Speakers

Siraj Izhar

Artist, writer and social organiser

Personal Statement

My art works are active social processes, which are completed by the ongoing activity of others.

They are generators of activity (like the former Public Life project

The projects are always autonomous, sometimes anonymous and usually take place over a 3 year cycle consisting of phases which emerge out of each other: Production - Distribution - Representation.

The concept of the ecosystem is central to my working process in that it describes the way the works work in real contexts with complexities of built-in feedback processes which develop over time. I do not produce exhibitions as such but engage with the living city directly to produce autonomous working realities.

Through the 1990s my work was produced through the charity called strike foundation that I set up to promote and produce work that operates purely in civil society without the mediation of art institutions.

Strike foundation was based at Fashion Street which provided 600 sq metres of different types of spaces and cells of activity along with differentiation of use - as public : semi-public : private spaces. The project was an experiment in modelling a 'factory for integrated social production' by bringing together an experimental mix of artists and social activist projects into the same shared facility. It was influenced by ideas from many disciplines in particular the physicist David Bohm's concept of the rheomode which allowed a fluid crossflow of ideas at the same time as a high level of cultural production without being answerable to any institutional yardstick or convention.

Currently I am working on a waste collection and recycling project involving twenty 7-cubic yard waste skips (dumpsters) near Stratford, East London. The areas covered by this project are Leytonstone, Chingford, Walthamstow, Edmonton, Ilford, Romford. This is a metaphoric project which deals with the greater landscape in the aftermath of September 11; of how we are coping with the cultural detritus of September 11. It is run through the institution of an everyday urban service, in this instance a waste refuse collection company.

I am also working on a Living Memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa to be constructed in London with Platform. The Living Memorial is a continuation of my creative picturing of the city based on a visual eco-system. In this every autonomous community is distinctive in its functioning and its ideology - its core belief systems. This is differentiated for different communities even in a large city like London. Mainstream society is pictured as state-based consumer monoculture flowing in an uni-direction. Autonomous communities are more like concentric circles, creating complex eddies and ripples in the cultural landscape.


Siraj Izhar
61 Regent Studios
8 Andrews Road
London E8 4QN
tel 0207 254 4459 mobile 07939 570901

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