Dislocations and Ecologies. the Disruption of the Experience of London in Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair and Gilbert & George


  • Tatiana Pogossian Université Paris 7 Diderot




memory – identity – ecology – dislocation - experience



London exerts attraction and repulsion upon travellers, writers and artists alike. Its past is overshadowed by the never-ending process of change, yet a close investigation helps unveiling hidden parts of a collective memory. Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair and Gilbert & George have explored the memory of London through the prism of cultural studies, psychogeography or contemporary art. London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd, Lights Out for the Territory, London Orbital by Iain Sinclair and the 20 London E 1 Pictures by Gilbert & George may serve as a basis for retrieving fragile realms of memory. We may wonder whether these realms cannot be likened to « ecology of knowledge ». If ecology designates an environment regulated by specific rules and mechanisms, what do “ecologies of knowledge” refer to in the urban context?  Besides, the nature of the relationship between the experience of London and the ecology of knowledge prompts questions. Does the experience of London dislocate the artistic universes created by Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair and Gilbert & George? Or do the artistic works partake in the dislocation of urban experience? ?My contention in this paper is to unveil the ways in which the polymorphism of the city is translated into writerly and iconographic codes. As the understanding of the urban ecology keeps receding, similarly the works adopt process and metamorphosis as structuring principles. ?First, the destabilising exploration of London shall be assessed by its impact upon the physical experience, and the renegotiation of concepts such as body, empiricism, and the spirit of the place. Then, the frustrating exploration of London may be analysed through literary and artistic devices that echo the dislocation in the works. Eventually, these works will lead us to consider the dis-membering of the city body as the only  means to the re-membering of London.



Londres ejerce atracción y repulsión entre  los viajeros, artistas y escritores. Su pasado, aunque ocultado por el proceso de cambio que caracteriza la ciudad, se deja  domesticar, desvelando una memoria  colectiva descuidada. Peter Ackroyd, Iain Siclair y Gilbert & George han registrado la memoria de Londres a través del prisma de estudios culturales de la psicogeografía o de las artes plásticas contemporáneas.  London : The Biography de Peter Ackroyd, Lights Out For the Territory, London Orbital de Iain Sinclair y los 20 London E 1 Pictures de Gilbert & George  sirven de punto de partida para la exploración de trozos  de memoria que van desvaneciéndose. ¿Si la ecología designa un entorno regulado por mecanismos específicos, que mecanismo regula esta ecologia urbana ? En este artículo, analizaremos la dislocación de la ciudad y su codificación  textual e iconográfica. Dado que la comprensión de la ecología urbana se revela  problemática, las obras adoptan  a su vez el proceso y la metamorfosis como principios estructurantes. ¿Como la ecologia urbana y los universos artisticos  ecologia artistica interactuan : ¿la experiencia de Londres disloca los universos artísticos de Peter Ackroyd , Iain Sinclair et Gilbert & George? ¿O sus obras participan en la dislocación de la experiencia urbana? En primer lugar, la experiencia desestabilizante de Londres se valorará a partir de su impacto sobre la experiencia física, ajustando  conceptos como el cuerpo, el empirismo o el alma del lugar. Luego, la exploración de Londres se analizará con procedimientos que imitan la dislocación. Por fin, el análisis del corpus nos llevará a contemplar el desmembramiento  del cuerpo de la ciudad como único medio para encontrarse con la memoria  evanescente de Londres..





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Author Biography

Tatiana Pogossian, Université Paris 7 Diderot

Tatiana Pogossian has just completed her PhD under the supervision of Professor Catherine Bernard (Paris-7 Diderot). It explores the way the urban experience in London questions the notion of empiricism in the works by Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair and Gilbert & George. She is a regular speaker at the annual « Literary London » conference and a contributor to the Literary London (e)Journal. She has also taken part in the latest SAES (French National Association of Senior Professors and Lecturers) congress and is currently preparing a paper for the next IAWIS (International Association for the Word and Image Studies)  conference in Montreal. Her research fields include : urbanism, history of ideas, (Post)Modern fiction, arts, collective memory, Englishness,  affect. This paper is her first contribution to Ecozona.

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General Section 2.1. Spring 2011