Manchester remains an archetype for the complex encounter between memory and renewal with its ever-changing skyline. Over the last 50 years, Manchester has undergone a huge number of physical changes and continues to intertwine rich potential within the city. One example is the future combination of Cornerhouse and The Library Theatre Company, a cultural recombination with the potential to flourish when they are re-housed, more so, than perhaps if they were going it alone.
We are inspired when we look at the present situation of Oxford Road and the effects of our human actions on the space around us. The Cornerhouse and the BBC are both seemingly connected to the essential nature of Oxford Road and their departure will ecologically reconfigure the area, one of our questions is what will this reconfiguration look like? If you imagine the road as a mouth, the removal of the Cornerhouse and the BBC is like the removal of a back tooth (the BBC) and the front tooth. What will the smile look like without them – and what, indeed, will fill their place?
The way we can explore this is to understand what the BBC and the Cornerhouse’s cultural interplay between artists and audiences bring to this area and its neighbours, what smaller businesses exist in cohabitation with these larger organisations, what else happens that wouldn’t otherwise happen if they were not situated here?
Could the movement of these organisations be seen as cultivation, opening the area for new surfaces and different crops thus widening the diversity. Can the movement of the BBC and the Cornerhouse be seen as a shift rather than an extinction?
We are interested in how the conditions to maintain a thriving cultural ecology can be created and how it might have developed in the past. The Cornerhouse is appears popular for an arthouse venue, its cafe-bar is often at full capacity and with blockbuster screenings such as the recent Black Swan before the film. With the BBC’s move to Media City, it would be strange for BBC Manchester not to follow whilst being a chance to move to a better suited building for modern day broadcasting.
When looking at the interplay of the place around BBC and Cornerhouse, its a chance to work out what kind of machine Oxford Road is, what are the routines that fold over hours, days and weeks? What is the social choreography of the place?
We are in the research and development phase of the project, with a number of ideas to take forward, such as moving image projects and a flickr map documenting Oxford Road. Both have the aim of capturing social history and narratives that are embodied in these spaces and location.
We hope our project will challenge how certain norms, values or imposed categories of thought enter into one’s ways of approaching everyday life in the area to lead to positive action as to how we can move though the changes and shape the future.