The pursuit of public housing provision was one of the 20th century's redeeming contributions. Yet, in the first decade of the 21st century, public housing as an ideal is contradictory territory resulting from the policies that value entrepreneurial charities or a subsidised private sector over state funded and administered housing.
Estate is a timely contribution to the debates entangling millions of individuals and countless neighbourhoods. The starting point is a visual essay on the Haggerston West & Kingsland Estates in Hackney, East London, in the process of demolition and rebuilding. The 56 photographs document the spaces left behind when people were moved out. Despite residents living in limbo for over 30 years as refurbishment plans were continuously proposed, shelved and re-proposed, the images highlight their innovative solutions to the difficulties of continuing to live while and idea and set of buildings were being abandoned around them.
Texts from Paul Hallam, Cristina Cerulli and Victor Buchli contextualise the artists' project through a broader set of questions resulting in a work that refuses to settle, creating dialogues between photographs, archaeology of the recent past, autobiography and critical theory.
"Estate is a compelling, critically important contribution to public housing - and a provocative intervention into one of the most pressing social crises facing Britain."
- Owen Jones, author 'Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class'
"Estate is touched with love and unflinching observation and the respect which the acknowledging eye can give, full of pragmatism, humour and goodness. It portrays with unerring precision the character of the big London estates I have known well: the inventive beauty, caged poverty, self-respect, bitter fury, sickness, dirt and hope."
- Jay Griffiths, author 'Wild: An Elemental Journey'
"The public imaginary of social housing in Britain is a wasteland of journalistic clichés, political pieties and economic lies. Estate tells an entirely different story, and brings to life a real housing estate in east London, conjured forth in sympathetic words and photographs, and based on direct action to bring about change. A beautiful, heartfelt, path-breaking work."
- Ken Worpole, author of 'Towns for People, Staying Close to the River'
"In Nero times like ours, a rhetoric or polemic of opposition, however lucidly proposed, is no longer enough. Cultural activism needs to embody a poetics of resistance - a richly textured territory which in and of itself challenges prejudice and marks the beginning of a fresh way of being in the world. Passionately engaged, running on a lyric defiance and profoundly empathetic, Estate offers just such a space: building a new architecture of belonging that sears with loss while refusing to yield."
- Gareth Evans, writer and curator
"Estate is a beautiful book full of fragility and human life, apparently focused on the the Haggerston West & Kingsland Estates in Hackney, East London, but broadening out to touch on a variety of topics from public housing to art to innovation. The book contains 56 pictures ... full of the improvised solution that necessity brings on and the discarded remnants of life. They stand in stark contrast with the playful, sometimes opaque art that housing associations and others commission to rejuvenate areas."
- Thomas Neumark Jones, author and organiser
"An excellent and important polemic".
- Owen Hatherley, author 'A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain'
"This is an incredible book that will move you deeply... 5 stars"
- Andrea Gibbons, author, organiser and PM Press editor