At home with the clearview crew at the blurred border of Tottenham’s ‘Artist Colony’

, 8 February 2017

“It’s difficult to say if the project space is taking over the house or the house is taking over the project space,” write the members of the clearview collective, an artist residency, and exhibition and event series, opened last year in the North London suburb of Tottenham. Founded, run and lived in by MA students Canan Batur, Cedric Fauq, Joss Heierli, Nilz Källgren, and Filip Zezovski Lindh, the independent initiative “dedicated to the vision of invited practitioners” began as most do, through conversation. It’s a discussion that started in 2015 and then ended in an inauguratory ‘housewarming‘ at their location on Fountayne Road that featured the likes of  Jaakko PallasvuoSophie Hoyle, and Victoria Sin, among others. Next there was Lito Kattou’s ‘Fighting with the Sun‘ performance and installation that opened last month, with Jala Wahid’s Shahmaran to come, on February 9.

Lito Kattou, ‘Fighting with the Sun’ (2017). Performance view. Photo by Paul Maheke. Courtesy clearview ltd, London.

The space exists as a place for people to live and work, supported by the five founders, curators and long-term residents, in an area, once known for being central to the 2011 London riots, now a site of rapid urban development. clearview’s organisers, that include some artists with their own interdisciplinary practices, as well as day jobs — a dog-walker and baby-sitter, a bartender, a builder, and a real-estate agent and occasional drummer — acknowledge their place within what some call “The Artist Colony” of Tottenham Hale. Its curators, who have explored transience in pop-up exhibitions in apartments, high street shops and shuttle buses, exist as a community of outsiders in an area, navigating their own role in as creatives in redevelopment. As space becomes scarce, while the London art remains vibrant, clearview aim to establish themselves as a means to stay present on the ever-tightening edge of art. 

**Tell us a bit about your ethos towards live/work; is the project a reaction to anything, and/or a repercussion of surviving as artists in london?

clearview: Because we live in clearview, our lives revolve around the project space. They are embedded in our professional responsibilities towards clearview. But I guess we manage to make the most out of this — we are super flexible in terms of installation and we can welcome people anytime. It’s difficult to say if the project space is taking over the house or the house is taking over the project space — but we like to play on that thin line. This is actually what our inaugural project was all about. clearview is probably less cold than other project spaces. You feel at home here. It is also in line with our residency program. Hosting people means a lot to us. When we work with artists, we often live with them — whether they are in residency or not — just because they are in our house and share our living space. We are quite privileged in having the possibility to do this — and the idea is, indeed, to make other people enjoy that privilege. By giving artists space to not only showcase their work, but also to produce. The whole idea of the residency is to support artists to expand their practice. At clearview, Lito Kattou developed her first performance work for instance. That being said, we are not the only space in London operating that way: Greatorex or Lima Zulu are also live/work project spaces.

Saturday 19 November (2016). Exhibition view. Courtesy clearview ltd, London.

**How did the collective come together? Did it grow organically out of a shared vision for this project or was the project a by product of the collective/friendship?

cv: clearview was a product of the idea of collectivity, friendship and shared vision, all together. We have enjoyed spending time together, having long discussions and working on various projects at the same time. But mainly, we appreciate each other’s drive, passion and intelligence. We can say that it was an organic continuum without feeling alienated by the notion of ‘working. We respect each other’s ideas, and we evaluate each proposed project, respectfully. This allowed us to grow together with the space, in terms of our relationship and professional approach.

**Your first show brought together a huge amount of artists in an inauguratory event, and the premise was based on the “host and the hostile,” can you talk a bit about your interest in this tension?

cv: We’re obviously aware of our position here, in Tottenham Hale, which, since the 2011 riots, has been increasingly subject to redevelopment plans and social cleansing. On Fountayne Road, where we are located, the community is historically called “The Artist Colony.” This is a strange label. What does this mean? We don’t question straightforwardly the fact that we are part of the ongoing gentrification happening in here, because we’re not sure of what we’re provoking or what we are part of yet. The big picture is still blurry. But we’re researching, informing ourselves.

Through our programme, we are not claiming anything but the desire to establish a ground for claims. The idea of “host and the hostile” comes from that. The reason why we propose clearview as headquarters comes from the desire to be more inclusive in the area without pretending that we are changing the conditions we are surrounded with. In order to be effective in a certain area, things need to be more procedural and that demands time and integration. Us, as people coming from different countries and having an uncertain time period with clearview, cannot synthesize Tottenham Hale’s landscape, it would be pretentious of us to do so. We only push ideas forward and try to create a harmony with the place we are in.

Saturday 19 November (2016). Installation detail. Courtesy clearview ltd, London.

**I noticed you run an AirBnb. Is this the same thing as your residency, or does it support the residency financially?

cv: Airbnb is a tool for us to generate income for the space to provide a budget for our projects. Since we are still full-time students, we needed to find a way to invest without losing too much and use what we have. We think that, giving artists a place to stay, to display, and to work and a supporting budget is important to expand the stage we are providing.

**Your manifesto states “clearview is not a game.” Expand?

cv: It came out from one of our regular meetings, when we were working on creating the programme. Whilst we take what we are doing seriously, we also care about having a laugh. “clearview is not a game” represented the feeling when an idea materialises.**

Jala Wahid’s Shahmaran solo exhibition is on at London’s clearview, running February 9 to March 5, 2017.