Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Down in the tube station at 18:48

Just spotted this intriguing picture of Engels plastered* across a London Underground tube train advertising panel over at Solomon's Mindfield blog.

No, it's not Workers Power trying to do Banksy but part of London Underground's most recent 'Art On The Underground' campaign. (See the Mayor of London blurb in the bottom left hand of the picture? Boris will be pleased.)

I say 'recent' but it dates from June and July of this year. What can I say? I came late to the Party.

By way of an apology, please follow the link which will explain that the poster (and quote) is part of an art project devised by Jeremy Deller, which is entitled 'What is the city but the people?'

To quote the bloke Deller himself:

' . . . I came up with the idea to give [London Underground] staff a collection of quotes and the idea grew from there. I often wish announcements were more personal and reflected the realities and absurdities of living and working in a big city. I think the travelling public enjoys some humour and unexpected insight during their journey.'

As well as the Engels' quote in his project, Deller also includes quotes from Ghandi, Napoleon, Sartre and Goethe amongst others. The idea behind the project was that from time to time, London Underground drivers (and others) would insert quotes from the great and the good in amongst the usual pronouncements of 'Mind the Doors'; 'Next stop Russell Square' & 'I used to be someone, you fuckers'.**

It's been a while since I've travelled on the Underground in London but if their tannoy system is anything like the mumbled, garbled and strangulated announcements of drivers and others on the NYC Subway system, then they could have been reading from the collected editorials of Daniel De Leon all this time and I'd have been none the wiser.

More on the project (and the public's response to it) from the LA Times; Open Magazine; and that natural institution, Arthur Smith.

Before I forget: that particular quote from Engels? I understand that the original plan was to place it as it as massive poster in the Clapham North tube station, but the Executive Committee of the SPGB had a word. No need to take the piss, is there? we're just working up to our second wind.


* 'plastered' - Insert your Marx and Engels boozing it up on Tottenham Court Road joke here.

**'I used to be someone, you fuckers'. - Allegedly said by a tired and emotional Jah Wooble over a London Underground tannoy system sometime in the mid-eighties whilst he was working for said organisation.


stuart said...

Would make a nice change from the usual tannoyance.

Tannoyance: "Endless, semi-coherent burbling about beverages, station stops and remembering to take your legs with you - delivered through speakers that make everything sound like a bee in a jar - on trains. Scientists predict that by 2014 these announcements will take longer than the average railway"

Darren said...


I like that.