Avril Corroon macht Käse aus dem schwarzen Schimmel an den Wänden sauteurer Wohnungen in London, vorzugsweise den Wohnungen von Künstlern, deren Vermieter die Buden verrotten lassen, um die Mieter aus den Häusern zu treiben und die Gebäude in Luxuswohnungen umbauen zu können. Der Käse ist Teil einer Kunstaktion und steht dann stinkend in Galerien, deren Business seinen Teil zu diesem Gentrifizierungsprozess beiträgt.
Großartiger, bissiger Kommentar, grade auf den völlig absurden Londoner Immobilienmarkt und es ist Käse! Ich liebe Käse! (Den hier würde ich zwar eher nicht essen, aber Käse!)
Hi Avril! I’ve never made cheese in my life. You made yours using bacteria cultures collected from the mould growing in London housing. How did you discover the existence of these bacteria and their suitability to make cheese?
Neither had I before this. To make blue cheese you add penicillium roqueforti to your milk and rennet, so I wondered what would happen if I swapped the ‘good mould’ for ‘bad’ mould and if it’d make a black mouldy cheese? Or what a Camberwell Camembert would look like from damp mould grown in a flat in Camberwell in London?
I had no idea if the cheese would come out looking and smelling like cheese or if the new mould would cause it to fall apart. It turns out that it does look and smell like cheese but as for taste I don’t know, it’s definitely not fit for consumption.
I’ve been doing call outs online and using word of mouth to find people living with mould and then visiting to take samples to make an individual cheese. Another element to the project is filming the homes where the moulds come from and interviewing the participants about their lives and any health problems they might have living around black mould. Some of them said they had mild respiratory issues and many said they constantly have to ask the landlord to come and sort it after the mould reappears after cleaning and repainting.
Of course, what i found most interesting about the project is that it is, if i understood correctly, a comment on the poor living conditions in rented accommodation. Could you elaborate on that?
I had a lot of black mould growing in my last accommodation in Dublin and know many people living in damp housing managed by neglectful landlords. I wanted to make something that juxtaposed the mould, as a sign of neglected living conditions in rental property, with an artisan product like cheese, as a possible marker of gentrification.
Developers and city planners focus on areas, intentionally allowing them to become run down before pumping investment into recreating a new narrative of the area, as somewhere more attractive for middle and upper classes making it difficult for the community to sustain living there.
I hope that the work gives a sense of how interlinked and calculated disinvestment and investment is as a system and also gives the finger to private landlords for charging extortionate rental prices for poorly maintained flats and houses.
At the moment I’m being evicted from my rental accommodation in Elephant and Castle in South East London as developers are going to build luxury apartments. That whole area is under new urban development. Property developers Delancey have been given the go ahead by the council to take down the famous 75 year old Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre to make a ‘town centre’, but it’s already a centre for the traders and large multicultural community who go there. Up The Elephant campaigners are bidding to pose a legal challenge to drop the scheme, which is great.
I’m critical of how art institutions play a role in gentrification and want the work to address this too. In the work, I’m taking mould from people in bad living conditions and creating a high-end commodity out of this suffering as cheese, but then by giving it the status of art it then becomes a super commodity in the art gallery. I’m very interested in how the work touches these seemingly separate economies and how it can implicate a wider system than just the individual landlord. The cheese stink in the gallery and you can’t get away from the smell. It’s making an accusation there to question how art institutions function in the creation of inequalities, disinvestment and gentrification in areas.