Thursday, 23 October 2008

Thanks to the Fence Builders

Early in 2007 there was a long break in my trespassing activities, I was living in Devon and other artwork was taking priority, my eyes wandered from the Olympic prize and I was trying to ignore the news to boot. I reurned to London that summer and was shocked to find the entire 'park' ringed by the blue fence which has since become such a contentious issue in the local community and unsurprisingly a site for numerous art-activist-antics. The extent to which the organisers were willing to go, not only to keep people out but, as has been pointed out elsewhere, to keep them from seeing was unbelievable as I had naively believed, even despite the road closures already in place, that access would not be quite so restricted, that we might be granted the opportunity to see the transformation at hand. Were it not for the natural viewing platform offered by the Greenway the whole project would likely have been carried out invisibly, the safety curtain raised after a five year interval revealing a scene-change of epic proportions.

In July 2007 the fence was not yet complete, although wandering down the canal on the 30th it was impossible to tell that half a mile to the east there was still (just) open access. I scaled the fence using one of several trees growing right up alongside it. These trees have all now been boxed into the fence, I strongly suspect that I have not been the only transgressor on this turfless turf and between us we must have made our mark (I will discuss my more conspiratorial and paranoiac musings on the updated security efforts in a separate post). Dropping down on the other side I became instantly aware of what a massive favour the fence builders had done me. I was standing in what used to be a car park for workers, located off Waterden Road, in the shadow of the colossal self-storage building. One month ago this would been accessible: not a trespass. Whereas before I paced the fews roads through the site, always on the lookout for a chink in the armour, now anywhere inside the fence was mission accomplished - I had simply to climb it and set foot on the other side.

Tonight was easy, if nervous, pickings. I decided not to stray too far, this was all of a sudden new territory, however familiar the buildings and spaces were the rules of the game had changed completely and I needed time and practice to accustomise myself to this. I stuck close to the fence, exploring only the two warehouses closest and the open space beside them until I saw the glowing portacabins and flashing orange lights of the security units and (probably needlessly) lost my nerve. Climbing back over to safety I was hit by the first serious rush of adrenalin, since my two experiences of capture, but this was different. I had succeeded. The fence builders had moved the goalposts to a place I had never expected, and much as I wish I could stop with the crass sporting analogies, I had raised my game. This was a fix that I would soon become fiercely addicted to, returning periodically over the next nine or so months, with increased nerve, cheek and commitment to get deeper into this forbidden territory, just because I could and am convinced that people should.

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