“Space, Not Spikes” transforms the controversial fixtures designed to make life more difficult for those already facing hardships.
image via tumblr
When small metal protrusions started popping up outside a number of storefronts and buildings in London a few years back, there was widespread outcry from homeless communities and their advocates. Opponents of the installations argued these anti-homeless spikes—intended to prevent those living on the streets from bedding down for the night—were “inhumane” and something a James Bond villain would use. As a result, a number of the spikes have since been removed, although many still remain.
In response to the persistent presence of these painful skewers, a group of British artist-activists have devised an ingenious way to counteract the “hostile architecture” the spikes represent: By transforming an inhospitably spiked ledge outside the former spot of London’s infamous Plastic People nightclub into a cozy bedroom, complete with a soft mattress, and an adjacent micro-library filled with books on architecture and urban planning.
image via tumblr
Calling their installation “Space, Not Spikes” the artists write on their website:
Living in a city, we bumble along from place to place in tightly martialed lines. We’re told where we can walk, where we can sit, where we are welcome but only if we spend money. Or have it. It makes us neurotic and engenders a deep sense of ‘otherness’ in anyone who chooses to or simply cannot buy in to what currently passes for society and leisure. Anti-homeless spikes are part of that invention, Nothing says “keep out” to a person more than rows of sharpened buttplugs laid out to stop people from enjoying or using public space. Space, Not Spikes came from the anger of public/private space inequity. We chose the Curtain Road location because of its resonance with artists. Round the corner and down the road were the studios and spaces used by artists who couldn’t afford anywhere else to live and work. This particular site is where the nightclub Plastic People used to live. It had a Vietnamese restaurant on top of it that vibrated on weekends. Now, we have spikes. Now, we’re looking at poor doors and architecture designed to keep them ‘right’ people in and the 'wrong’ people out. Regardless of whether you own, rent or even have a home, the streets are ours.
While it’s unlikely the installation will be allowed to stay up for long, the micro-bedroom set is already helping further the ongoing conversation around the controversial spikes, and just what it means to have public spaces available for an entire community, not only for those fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads at night.