Savage Messiah (Paperback)
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The acclaimed art fanzine’s psychogeographic drifts through a ruined city
Savage Messiah collects the entire set of Laura Oldfield Ford’s fanzine to date. Part graphic novel, part artwork, the book is both an angry polemic against the marginalization of the city’s working class and an exploration of the cracks that open up in urban space.
About the Author
Laura Grace Ford, originally from Halifax, West Yorkshire, studied at the Royal College of Art and has become well known for her politically active and poetic engagement with London as a site of social antagonism. She exhibits and teaches across Europe and America.
“A wake-up call to anyone who can only see modern cities through the lens of gentrification.”
—Hari Kunzru, New Statesman (“Books of the Year”)
“This black-and-white, cut ’n’ paste-style zine by Ford, in which she traces her psychogeographical drifts around London’s grimey underbelly, has achieved cult status in art circles since its first issue in 2005. Be warned: this is a city you won’t find in any guidebook.”
“A delirious, doomstruck celebration of squats, riots, vandalism, isolation, alcohol, and sex with strangers, all on the terrain of a half-historical, half-imaginary city that the people who Ford follows, herself at the center, can in moments believe they built themselves, and can tear down as they choose.”
—Greil Marcus, Believer
“Ford displays authentic gifts as a recorder and mapper of terrain. She is a necessary kind of writer, smart enough to bring document and poetry together in a scissors-and-paste, post-authorial form.”
—Iain Sinclair, Guardian
“One of the most striking fanzines of recent years … focusing on the politics, psychology and pop-cultural past of a different London postcode. Ford’s prose is scabrous and melancholic, incorporating theoretical shards from Guy Debord and Marc Augé, and mapping the transformations to the capital that the property boom and neoliberalist economics have wrought. Each zine is a drift, a wander through landscape that echoes certain strands of contemporary psychogeography. Ford—or a version of her, at least—is an occasional character, offering up narcotic memories of a forgotten metropolis. The images, hand-drawn, photographed and messily laid out, suggest both outtakes from a Sophie Calle project and the dust jacket of an early 1980s anarcho-punk compilation record: that is, both poetry and protest.”
—Sukhdev Sandhu, New Statesman
“Savage Messiah’s fractured narratives, clipped sloganeering and topographical poetics have been, for the last decade or so, a kind of solace for anyone who loathed the coked-up arrogance, the intellectual and political vacuity and compulsory amnesia of the boom. It was a constant reminder that bad times were just around the corner.”
—Owen Hatherley, author of A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain
“The consumer-friendly face of neoliberal Britain gets an anarchic makeover in Ford’s politically biting work … No false promises of a brighter, better, more sanitised tomorrow here. Instead, she focuses on areas haunted by an urban dispossessed, which regeneration seeks to concrete over: city wastelands where fortress-like old tower-blocks rise, with their Escher-like walkways and bleak ‘recreational’ open spaces.”
—Skye Sherwin, Guardian
“There is poetry … there is anger … there are calls to arms … and thankfully, there is humour.”
—Chris Hall, Icon
“No exercise in style nostalgia, this is her recovery of punk’s provocation and politicization.”
“Looking at Ford’s work, one sees the last three decades of urban flux laid out as singular snapshots—from the infinite, utopic possibilities of abandoned land that rave culture picked up, to the increasing civic and corporate control of space.”
—Oliver Basciano, Building Design
“What made Savage Messiah so interesting was … its dialectical montage, its lost futures erupting into and over-running the seamless, optimistic spectacle of redevelopment and speculation—because it imagined other futures than the one being sold so extortionately to Londoners. It held out the promise of another modernism, of things no longer going on as they are.”
“A rallying cry to resist gentrification, council house sell-offs, the ‘right-to-buy’ scandal, social cleansing [and] working-class marginalisation.”
—Jamie Johnson, Morning Star