Annabel (Video, sound, 6 mins, 2 screen installation and 1 screen version 1994)
Annabel is a critique of the City’s corporate private spaces that make social exclusion and economic privilege concrete. The City’s fortress mentality is played out in a constructed conversation between a high explosives demolition consultant and a property sales director for Broadgate estates, a prestigious corporate enclave on the City’s fringe. The interviews were recorded separately and form the basis for their conversation. In reality the two have never met.
Both have that swagger that comes from a deep sense of entitlement and unchallenged social privilege enabling them to comfortably gaze at glaring social inequalities through the mirrored spectacles of their class. They have been encultured to respect and endure vertical violence at boarding school and, for him, the army. They are among the elite functionaries of the latest Capitalism.
The film’s title references ‘Annabel’ a high explosive made by Nobel Explosives and might be the name of a 60s Swinging London movie where the beautiful young, rich ‘wild child’ improbably falls for the brooding conservativism of the mature danger man. Similarly, in Annabel there is a charged chemistry between them as they flirt and toy with the next phase of explosive corporate expansion.
There are 2 versions of Annabel: one a split screen single screen version and a two channel 2 screen installation version with the screens facing each other at 45 degrees.
Long Walk , Annabel and Time=Money were produced in 1994 at a time when the City was in a slump with acres of new and old office space vacant and unlet – the aftermath of a reckless frenzy of speculative office over-development that followed the boom of the late 80s following deregulation. The City’s financial crisis had culminated in Black Monday in ‘92 when half the UK’s reserves were wiped out leaving the City nervously waiting for the next boom.
The Bishopsgate bomb in April 93, claimed to be the work of the IRA to help accelerate the Northern Ireland Peace Process also created a minor boom in the City with over 350 million pounds damages to offices. Witnessing teams of upbeat (re)construction workers making their way to the blast site it was clear that there was a relief in the air with a fresh demand for office space and construction industry workers.
More important, though, was the spectacle also seemed to provide an ideal distraction away from the increasing public concern that the City’s conduct as a financial institution was unaccountable and out of control. The City’s old conservative and respectably cautious public image had been replaced by a new well publicised and de-politicised (yuppie) culture of greed and bullish anti-socialism. Having the City under siege as a military target neatly diffused any calls for regulating the rise of Finance Capitalism (whereby the link between investment in national and international production and development shifted to profits from abstract financial services whose financial instruments are designed only make money for an elite). The bombing gave The City a kind of Churchillian gravitas that helped restore the City and establishment’s hegemony where obscene rates of self –interest and banal inward investment are seen as natural and something we might like to try at home .
The City is not just a financial zone within the wider capital city. It is not a state within the state. It is a state above the nation state operating below the political, moral and social radar. The corporate crimes and criminal underinvestment in wider socio-economic growth goes on without any significant challenge or regulation from governments or local authorities. Its relationship to the wider society is parasitic. It gives nothing back. It is this culture of withholding and the trickle release of financial and psychic resources that these films address in different ways.