Simon Pope's Memory Marathon swaps batons with microphones for Olympic flashbacks

By Culture24 Staff
  • Archived article
A photo of a man interviewing another man as they stroll through a circular tunnel

(Above) Simon Pope interviews one of his public guests during an excursion through Woolwich Foot Tunnel. Photo: Angus Mills

Exhibition: Memory Marathon, Dray Walk Gallery, London, until March 14 2010

Simon Pope is an artist fascinated by the power of memories, and his Memory Marathon project looks as conversationally exhausting as it was physically demanding.

Commissioned by the Olympic Development Authority, Pope spent the 7th of November strolling through the five East London boroughs which will host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games in the Autumn sunshine.

A photo of two men talking as they walk through a street

Brick Lane. Photo: Angus Mills

He started at dawn in Thamesmead in South-East London, taking 12 hours to arrive at the symbolic entrance to the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Along the way, his chats involved more than 100 local residents through Greenwich, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest, from lakeside strolls with Cockneys remembering superhuman "geezer" swimmers to reflections on the racially iconic breakthrough of Jesse Owens, discussed while crossing the Thames Path.

A panoramic photo of two people talking on a bridge over a river

The Thames Path in Greenwich. Photo: Angus Mills

Pope is an attentive host, handing over the microphone to a diverse range of respondents – enlisted through adverts, they meet him in underground tunnels, during strolls through some of the city's best-known urban streets and in a twilight scene on Hackney Marshes.

His findings on the 26-mile route have been condensed into a hugely evocative 80-minute filmic reminiscence, drawing poignancy, humour and passion as each walker grabs their 400 metres of fame.

A photo of a camera crew following two people as they walk across a park

Hackney Marshes. Photo: Angus Mills

The tour is heading back out again now, visiting cinemas in Dalston, Stratford and Greenwich for special screenings this weekend to accompany the exhibition.

Open 11am-7pm. Admission free, visit the project online.

Screenings (admission £5.50/£5):
Rio Cinema, Kingsland High Street, Saturday March 6, 1.30pm
Stratford East Picturehouse, Theatre Square, Sunday March 7, 3pm
Greenwich Picturehouse, Greenwich High Road, Sunday March 7, 7pm

Memory Marathon is conceived and produced by Film and Video Umbrella, commissioned by the Olympic Delivery Authority and funded by the London Development Agency and Arts Council England

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