If This Square Could Speak: Aural Geographies of the East End by Chase Coley

Our first major exhibit of 2018 comes from accomplished sound artist and Walford Contemporary resident, Chase Coley. Exploring the confluence of pyscho-geography, embodied performance and collective memory, Coley maps out the acoustic territory of Walford – sensitively examining it’s trials, tribulations and personal dramas.

If this Square Could Speak comprises a series of sound walks around Albert Square, focussing on sites and the connections between their micro-histories. The field recordings that resulted from these walks, combined with hitherto unheard archival material from the Walford Contemporary archives, form the basis of a fully immersive installation.

Chase Coley spoke to the Walford Contemporary about his project:

“I’ve always been drawn to the East End, my grandmother lived not far here, and used to tell me stories from the war – of the grit and determination of the people round here. Yes, it’s nostalgia – but the history of this area is of immense importance to the community, a community which still plays a huge role in the cultural imaginings of the British psyche.

“If this Square Could Speak” is an acoustic ecology study of the Walford area centred on a site-specific audio installation and sound walk. For me it’s a deeply personal work, and is the product of many years collecting field recordings from the area. I attempt to play back recorded moments of Walford’s rich history back into their respective acoustic territories, and invite the listener re-experience a contrasting past.

This analysis of aural psycho-geography seeks to create a rhythm that ebbs and flows through the chaos that is the ever-changing East End, just like the Thames does through the heart of London. I want to highlight some of the moments and emotions, however tragic or brutal, that have sculpted this place.

What I hope to show through this work is not just the enduring significance of this place, but the drone of the laundromat, the bustle of the market, the slamming of a door, the smash of a pint glass, a distant gunshot… I have tried to build a sonic portrait that is at once accurate and conscious of the everyday interpretation and reinterpretation of memory.”

If this Square Could Speak is open to the public from Wednesday 17th January 2018, and is on display in the Slater Suite (ground floor) until August.

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