HOME: A Public Art Project for Peckham

As a society we are less fixed on living in one place, artist Julia Vogl’s latest work HOME is a large scale public art work, audio and visual, that reflects Peckham’s residents’ ideas of why London is their home. Julia Vogl reflects on her hopes for the project and what “Home” means to her.

A: What motivated you to choose the residents of Peckham as the focus for this project?

JV: Investigating HOME, is a personal and yet general topic. I wanted to interview a diverse community that was comprised of many different generations of residents, from the newcomers to the born and raised. While most London communities have this to a certain extent, Peckham is vibrantly demonstrative of this. My studio is based in Peckham, and after the riots last summer, I became curious to unpack what the true feelings of local residents were to their community, and where they lived. On the one hand there seemed to be a “I just happen to live here, because this is where I ended up” attitude and on the other hand there is a “I love peckham, it is a such a great place filled with such lovely people” attitude. As much as I am learning more and more specifics about Peckham, the residents, the history, and the local hang outs, I also see Peckham as a typical neighborhood that could be found in any major metropolitan city, from New York, Paris to Delhi. In each city, there are waves of immigrants who come there to seek out work and a better life then they had elsewhere, they tend to settle where either their family and friends have, or where they can afford a roof over their head. Obviously this is leading to rapid city expansion and gentrification an inevitable part of transforming poorer communities into middle class ones, but along the way in transition, there are these moments of almost utopic communities, where it seems that every person who lives there comes from somewhere else and has a different story, and that that instead of one community there are myriads of networks that are living together side by side and together making the best of what they can, and resulting in a pretty incredible place – I wanted to figure out if Peckham in 2012 – was one of those places in one of those moments.

A: Have you contributed your own interview to the project? What is your personal concept of “Home”?

JV: As a non area- resident, I have not contributed my own interview to the project. My personal concept of HOME keeps changing. It is a matter that I think about daily. Whether it be a consideration of purchasing new kitchen knives, or re-newing my British passport, I consider the fact that I moved here from America, and am not sure how long I will stay, because I miss people in the USA but in many ways I am creating a home here in London. I suppose my uncertainty is one of the major reasons I decided to do this project, in the hope that asking 1000 people would help me figure out, but also enable others to share their stories, because I know this is issue is much more universal, especially in 2012 when a great portion of the human population seems to relate to an immigration status.

A: How can audiences get involved with HOME?

JV: HOME is designed as a public living room, open to anyone to come down and hang out in the art work, as well as put on headphones and listen to Peckham residents concept of HOME. If you live in the area, you are also invited to have your perspective recorded on site. The questions being asked to visitors are the following:

1. How long have you lived in the Peckham area? ( the length of time is associated with a colour coding system, and visitors will be able to place a vinyl sticker on the structure, representing themselves as a coloured brick, and contributing to a collective visual data representation of Peckham residents.)

2. Do you consider Peckham your home? Why or why not?

3. Define home in a word or phrase.

So come on down July 27th- August 12th- to hang out, listen, contemplate, discuss or be interviewed!

A: You’ve been incredibly busy over the last couple of years, what are you most looking forward to in 2012?

JV: HOME, has been my major focus for 2012, and I am thrilled to see it come to life in a months time (27th July – 12th August). That being said some other opportunities have come up and so am looking forward to those to: Olympic Tides, is a commission for Gazelli Art House, that opens July 7th- August 16th. It is a daily moving work in their front windows on Dover Street, reflecting different area’s of the worlds natural and unnatural shifts- from times of sunset in Wellington New Zealand, to the value of the Nikkei 225, Tokyo Stock Exchange. I am also making a small interactive work – giving the viewer the power to predict British weather. And in September I have been invited to be part of Platform 79, The Berlin project, which is a site specific group show at a former Women’s Prison. and Courthouse, which is due to feature works by many international artists including Francis Alÿs and Richard Hiorns. I am making a work in situ, referencing more of my drawing and collage work- so that should be a fun challenge!

HOME: A Public Art Project for Peckham, 27/07/2012 until 12/08/2012, Peckham Square. www.homeproject2012.com