Mark Beasley was born in Stourbridge, England, 1969. He studied at Bath
College of Higher Education and the Royal College of Art. He lives and
works in New York.
Stephen Beasley was born in Birmingham. He studied architecture at the
University of North London. He lives and works in London.
A bench has been installed in the former refreshments area and facilities have been provided to playback and listen to a radio play.
A list of questions supplied by Kaavous Clayton via e-mail on 26 February, 2007, with responses by Mark and Stephen Beasley.
Kaavous Clayton: Do you shop for pleasure?
Stephen Beasley: Yes
Mark Beasley B: Yes
KC: Do you visit shopping centres?
MB: Yes. Comment: The mall had a big impact upon the place we lived as kids, Merry Hill, in the Midlands was the last 'out of town mall' officially sanctioned before they realised the effect these places have on adjoining towns. Not to say that it was all bad, for an area where the steel industry was recently defunct and unemployment was high the opportunity to join the 'nation of shopkeepers' was just that, an opportunity. Steel mill or Boots checkout? Our parents collect shopping malls, that's to say they've travelled all over the States and Britain in search of the ultimate mall. I figure for that generation the mall provided a safe spot where you never got drowned out by the rain and avoided the 'mugger in the dark' that loomed large in reported tales of the 80's city. Hedbdige covers this idea of the city as malevolent in his collected essays 'Hiding in the Light'. I figure the current image of the mall is more like that of the eighties city, post Bulger and all. To address the question, I recently visited the largest shopping mall in Northern America, in Edmonton, it had a full-scale beach, a working submarine, an ice hockey rink and a full scale roller coaster. What's not to like? I recently moved to New York and live on the island, a place my friends in Brooklyn refer to as Mallhattan. So yes I visit shopping centres.
KC: Are shopping centres architecture?
SB: Yes. Comment: Post-modernist architect Philip Johnson described architecture as 'the art of wasting space'. For me mall architecture is the art of maximising space. Shopping centres have become something like a brightly coloured box that packages a series of experiences or sales points, as interchangeable as the skins on your iPod. This is the new public space, the high street made safe and eventless, but constantly changing it's colour. It exists purely to provide. What becomes important are the contents.
KC: By describing the construction of a shopping centre are you deconstructing the myth of shopping?
MB: No. Comment: It provides an architecture of sorts to the play as it unfolds a useful and relentless backdrop to the melodramatic fantasies of the two central characters: a straight list reminiscent of Judd's description of his sculpture, a monotone rather than emotional response.
KC: Do you make art for pleasure?
KC: Do you think art is a kind of replacement therapy for shopping?
KC: Do you see the 'radio play' as a material?
KC: Is the use of sound (or rather a soundtrack) in your play purely there to engender a mood?
MB: No. Comment: The play's central teenage characters flirt with the anarchist traditions of free state and self-rule though their individual takes on economic systems change throughout the play. The choice to work with Nick stemmed from a long interest in his music particularly the early anarcho-punk of Napalm Death (formed in Birmingham in 1982 by Nick Bullen and Miles Ratlidge). We conceived the play as being set in the mid to late eighties so it's conceivable that the lead characters would have been listening to Napalm's first demo 'Hatred Surge' (1985) or first vinyl release 'Scum' (1987). I've worked with Nick on a few projects now and it's always proven to be enlightening, his understanding of music, art and literature is staggering. Early Napalm was about flattening the voice and removing explicit meaning, suggesting an energy and force through expression alone. This is how we view the use of music in the play.
KC: Does this work need to be shown in a gallery context?
MB: No. Comment: It benefits from a full spectrum sound system; I have some good leads in the mid-town area on 5th ave if you want them.
KC. It makes me wonder why we're showing it then. LOL