Urban Fictionalization

 

KIDS DO CRIME is one of five films Ipek Tureli produced as part of her Diploma Thesis research at the Architectural Association.

It shows how identities are socially constructed, and “fictionalization” can be used as a spatial and aesthetic strategy to transform hegemonic perceptions of space. Ipek studied the bankside of Vauxhall right across the British parliament which, at the time, was under pressures of state-led gentrification. She found out that the fear of crime was being used to mobilize public support for the massive redevelopment of the large empty site, formerly occupied by a publicly owned cold store, across the river from the Parliament. Her investigation, interviews with local police and residents and participant observation in various community meetings over the course of six months from November 1997-April 1998, revealed that the public consent mobilized to redevelop the area was based on a fear of crime that statistically and factually did not exist. Indeed, the area proposed for development was one of the most closely surveilled sites in London. In the mean time, the police directed her to a nearby local housing estate as the source of crime. This was a public housing estate typical of the postwar with large blocks inhabited by low-income residents on Welfare stipends. The community officer for the housing estate who was employed by the government declared that they “have a gang on the estate who terrorize everyone”. Even the police refrained from entering the estate. Equipped with her camera, which she always carried to record her investigations, Ipek was able to meet the so-called gang of children and adolescent youth. In fact, they wanted to act in her film. She came up with a film script for a docu-drama, in collaboration with Sita Schutt, that mixed factual and fictional events including a fictional murder from the present and the history of Vauxhall. The filming of the final film took three days and needed the collaboration of a variety of people including locals, friends, and others on the way. The shooting was directed by Francesca Staasch. At the beginning of the making of the film, the “gang” acted out their socially assigned roles of “criminals” by bragging about it. As the filming progressed however, they became increasingly conscious of their image; and despite the fact that the script portrayed them as helping the police in solving a crime and not as perpetrators, they decided to end the filming to go play football. Ipek decided to edit the final version as one that reflects this process of self questioning. The final edit was screened in local venues including the community hall of the housing estate where they lived but were banned from entering. In the long run, it did not prevent the gentrification of the area but helped counter misconceptions people had about this area, and about each other.

Thanks to all those who helped, especially to AA Unit Masters Carlos Villanueva Brandt and Robert Mull, and filmmaker Nina Danino who advised this project. Special thanks to the young talents from Key and Blyth Houses at the Kennington Park Estate.