Saturday, 23 June 2007

Millenium Dome re-opens...,,70141-1271759,.html

And what might this mean? David Southwell is one of several who have noted the invidious emanations this tent appears to produce. Reflected, perhaps, in all of those post-Dome fictions in which the apocalypse (or something remarkably like it) begins within spitting distance: 28 Weeks Later, as discussed in a recent article, Reign of Fire; even Doctor Who shares similar compulsions, judging from a recent novel in which the Dome is squatted by the genderless Cybermen. And now Harry Potter- a frequent presence on this blog- is joining in. Scenes from the latest film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, were shot on the Isle of Dogs; and whilst the Dome may be absent, the great black obelisk of Canary Wharf looms menacingly large.

Is the Dome a broader manifestation of an exhibit once housed there: The Tower that ate People, a massive prop which arose out of the floor during the Peter Gabriel-scored stage show which formed one of the centrepieces of the original Millenium Exhibition? A giant white corpuscle that oozes toxicity and malice, trailing inevitable despair across its neighbouring territories?

The Tower that ate People, a feature of the original Millenium Exhibition 1999-2000.

These thoughts are discreetly echoed in this recent article by historian Tristram Hunt, describing the parlous state of the wholescale regeneration programme presently underway in the Thames Gateway. (A large tract of brown-field land stretched out across a slab of east London, Kent and Essex- whose furthermost margin is marked by the Dome, itself the product of regeneration, erected on formerly contaminated land once occupied by a gasworks. It is also, Mr Southwell informs me, the final resting place of Krays nemesis Jake 'The Hat' McVitie, who is buried somewhere beneath the squalid canopy enshrouded in a carpet.)

This huge £6bn project is, Hunt fears, headed for disaster- marked by 'bland, anywhere-nowhere developments... that have no connection to time or place... Conveyor-belt McTerraces straight off the developer's spread sheet.' Inspiring them all, he opines, and standing as 'the entry arch' to the Thames Gateway itself, 'is the cast, hubristic symbol of the Millenium dome': a building 'whose conscious rejection of meaning and memory' casts it as the symbolic progenitor for the spiritless schemata delineated above.

For more on David Southwell and his work, see:

For Tristram Hunt's article on the wrecking of the Thames Gateway, see,,2105366,00.html


Bev said...

Hello Ben,
Thanks for another interesting article.
I couldn't help but notice
those pictures featured on the sky link. What struck me in particular was the photo taken on New Year Eve 1999. Notice how neither the duke of ed or the queen are "crossing arms"...

Recently on the news,there was mention of some exhibition space that will house Tutankhamen's treasures. (This will coincide with the music events)

All the best

BTB said...

Thanks for this Bev.

If you should happen to find out more about the Egyptian link, please let me know pronto! :)


FilmNoir23 said...

I'm curious about the renaming to 02 Arena...what's up with that? Is it to do with the attempted robbery of the diamond in 02??? Otherwise I don't see any connection...enlighten me?

FilmNoir23 said...

Oh, also...the Tut exhibit is in Philadelphia and doesn't arrive in London until November.

David said...

Too kind as ever...

And the Spice Girls. Official reunion photo taken over the Greenwich line.

Hyperspace continues to unfold in a most amusing way.