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Poses past, part VII – The Opening Ceremony to the End of the World

13 November 2012

As the London 2012 Olympics approached, with the city officially preparing to welcome the world, residents of east London were preparing for the suspension of life as they knew it. One group of artists living and working in Hackney Wick decided to mark the occasion with a party (one excuse is as good as another). The party was billed as ‘the opening ceremony to the end of the world’.

Artists would be showcasing their work. With Adam James on the bill it was only appropriate he should present his most recent piece: Mud Circles. The call went out for ‘mudheads’ from the previous performance willing and able to join the party. Six of us came forward.

It proved to be a quirky business. Team Adam James arrived early and established base camp on a heavily cluttered platform above the main party space. We would take it in turns to remove all clothing except for our eyeless mudhead headgear – like a colourful inverted lumpy bucket that blocks all vision – and then slowly stalk down a set of stairs and take up position standing motionless like part of the furniture while party-goers arrived.

I was still on my second shift near the bar when the first performance began on stage: a singer/songwriter/guitarist. After retreating between acts, I waited in the wings while a memory man and an extraordinary hula-hooping diatribess did their thing. Then cometh the naked mudheads’ main event… all six of us descending together and walking in a continuous slow circle at the heart of the assembled crowd. Round and round and round and round. And then having circled a few times, we withdrew.

What our audience made of it is anyone’s guess. My own guess would be that some were bemused, some non-plussed, some mildly astonished, and some immediately inspired – not least the chap who followed me up the stairs and asked if I would pose for photographs.

Alas, there are no published photographs of my own contribution but here is fellow mudhead Andy, putting in a couple of star turns among the revellers that night. It was a very strange, cool night indeed.

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