Rank and Breeding, video, 9 mins, colour, 2019
Rank and Breeding (video, 9 mins, 2019) mixes footage of London’s growing (breeding) corporate- led housing ‘regeneration’ and re-mediated sequences from the 1963 film ‘The Servant’ starring James Fox. The eerie story of Fox's moral and physical degeneration and decline (having fallen under the malign influence of his servant) is reversed showing Fox's character becoming stronger having acquired the routine sociopathic survival skills at boarding school his entitled upbringing provides, before going on to enjoy a Gap Year, Oxford and then slip effortlessly into an unearned career at Savills’ exclusive property company which today advises the conservative government on (un)affordable housing.
Rank and Breeding features London’s ominous constellation of construction crane red lights at night and, by day, future exclusive visions displayed on perimeter hoardings – both signifiers of the new enclosures.
‘The Servant’ (written in 1948) can be viewed as a reactionary response to the postwar emergence of Working Class cultural and political authority – portrayed as a malevolent threat to the old social class order’. In Rank and Breeding this classist allegory is inverted to evoke the negative social impact of the elite British Boarding School system (today a billion pound industry) as a ‘factory setting’ that manufactures a generic man/boy, and woman/girl bred to extinguish her/his emotional development to become one of the colonial managers of political, cultural, economic and urban life. He/she is traditionally a stranger to him/herself and the unknown territory and people s/he seeks to control and exploit.