Concrete Inequality

Ellie Davies


Concrete Inequality is an exploration into the social and political inequalities in six of London’s boroughs. This has been playfully explored and expressed through the performative treatments of exactly the same amount of concrete in each location. 

How can an identical material be treated so differently according to its cultural and historical influences?

The method of performative actions has been used to highlight these socio-political urban inequalities by treating the concrete identically. Ignoring the inequalities.

MI6’s SIS Building
Grenfell Tower
The Alexandra Road Estate
The Barbican
Robin Hood Gardens
Tate Modern’s Tanks
The National Theatre

There are two types of inequality referenced during this project. One, the tacit, subtle inequalities evident from the analysis of the location’s local newspapers. The second inequalities are the real-life factors illustrated by borough specific statistics from the ONS. The two types of inequality are linked as analysis of the boroughs local newspapers highlighted six common themes which then informed the statistical research. Each theme corresponds to an on-site performance. For example, the newspaper theme of children corresponds to the on-site performance of a Lego boundary.

The experimentation of on-site performances included the demarcation of a 21 by 21 cm square marked out with masking tape, creating a cohesive visual language between the clips.

The act of cleaning responds to the newspaper theme of community. The way the concrete has been physically cared for by the council and residents’ ties into the social discourses.

The comparison of these six newspaper themes across the seven concrete locations highlights London’s urban inequalities informed by the use of statistics and exposes these inequalities with the use of on-site performances.

This project has been designed for the people and communities who live in and work in the seven concrete locations. In being for these people the communication has been aimed at the government and council as these are the groups of people who can enact positive change.

Two different editing treatments have been applied to the clips for this project as the films have been designed to communicate to different audiences. One an institutional audience for politicians and planning councillors on a white background. The other has been designed to communicate to a fine art audience and to sit in a video exhibition space inside the Tate Modern as the Tate Modern’s Blavatnik building’s political discourse was the starting point of this project.

The communication of this project to a wider bureaucratic audience serves a purpose in highlighting the urban inequalities to the people who make decisions, with the aim of encouraging the consideration of the human impacts of developments.