i am here 15 Quotes.

These are noticeable early quotes from people who have seen and left comments/responses about the project. In this section we select a concentrated version of the responses and comments sections, making these accessible through a selection that indicates the very different reactions of people to the work, and to open debate.

More detailed information about the project can be found here.

Other responses, media, news, blogs, etc can be found here.

Anonymous comment nov 30th 2010

I worked on this estate from 1989 - 1998. I saw awful things happen there, it was a grosely inhospitable place, and full of very mad, very poor people. Lots of drugs, dangerous dogs, kids mauled by dogs... and i can honestly say this was one of the scariest places in London at that time.

Andrea Kirkby

...Locals decided to take portrait photos and put them up to cover the boarded-up flats - taking urban desolation and making it a work of art instead. Suddenly the wall was covered with smiles and humanity instead of blankness.

It's a piece of art, but it's also a social comment on the way that council housing has dehumanised its residents - and now they are fighting back. After all, it's the people, not the flats, that make up the community....

Jay's City Project

Back in May I went for a walk round the Regents Canal. The building below stood out: brightly marked as condemned a target for regeneration, yet nothing actually generating there - nothing, in fact, happening since April 2007. It is set for demolition in 2011, so what a strange four years for its remaining residents.

"I am here", echoing the signs around the estate that inform you that "You are here". Perhaps critiquing this representation of 'here' as a geometric diagram, as if that's ever what being-in-place was really about. Claiming subjectivity, "I" - an assertion, an ownership, the right to the city - for all the people who aren't on the map bar a little red dot labelled "You".

a snippet from a longer poem in the comments tab by a former resident of the estate in the 1950's, Julia

The worlds took to pot and terror and hate
I wish it would stop before it's too late
Go back to the days when we were young
Where we played in the grounds where the washing hung

Diggle's comment

Throughout my neighbourhood you see the aggressive and depressing sight of the council's attempts to keep out squatters from flats scheduled for demolition (see previous pic). On this estate they have managed to work with local artists to improve the image of the building whilst residents await their new homes - something so simple but yet somehow it feels like quite an achievement!

Emine Sanders from the Guardian newspaper quotes the artists

The derogatory comments of passersby were wounding. "I remember stopping people and asking who they thought lived here," she says. "Almost all said 'social cases'. That's the stereotype of places like this." But we stand outside the block and she points at photographs. "He's an engineering student, she's a theatre director. [These portraits] humanise a building that lots of people make negative assumptions about."

Caroline's comment

I love your work 'I am here'. I first saw it when looking round the Bridge Academy, standing on one of their roof top playgrounds. Every time we walk past we stop and look and make up stories about the residents.

Charlie's questions

These are some people with really big heads who I saw looking at me t'other day as I was cycling along Regent's Canal in London.

Young and old, black and white, male and female - but who are they and why are they there? Does anyone know? It bothers me so.

I've been trying to work out what their names are. From left to right, starting with the top row: Grace, Patricia, Milly, Claire, Gary, Julie, Olive, Maggie, Mo and Veronica.

Poor Gary, he's completely outnumbered by Hackney womenfolk. He also looks as though he's been asked what the capital of Bhutan is on the £32,000 Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? question having used all his lifelines.

I didn't look at them for too long - Mo clearly has her fists clenched behind that window. "Wha'chu lookin' at?!"

Two former residents, Josh and Shu, wrote

i am here! hooray for the most beautiful, brilliant, moving, fantastic, glorious public art project ever. this should stay up as long as cave art. what a privilege to be not only the first people to comment, but also to be right up there on the wall, next to the each other and next to one of the artists.

fantastic work! well done!

Maud's comment

It's interesting to learn about it on the web, read the comments,
where (ops!) everybody automatically refer to reality, be it social, economical or political - not to the "arty" connection!
This is a proof of the success in finally having come to grips with the border line between art and reality. So many tried, few succeded, but you realised it!

Anonymous comment sept. 14th 2009

... Is the right to a shelter really a human right?...

The artists quoted in Crystal Bennes AR review

'Of course, there are two different audiences for our project and for us they are very clearly defined: there are the people who live here and the outside world. Some of the people who didn't live here will have remembered the orange boards and notice the difference immediately. People who have never seen the orange boards have a completely different reaction to the photos.'

'A question that interests me, especially about social housing, is whether it is the building itself or the people who live in the buildings that makes it architecture? Perhaps the obvious answer is a bit of both and this project is about highlighting that.'

Mike @ Beast for Thee

After that we walked along the canal and found the "I Am Here" public art
work at a housing estate. Some artists who used to live there decided to put
up giant photos of the residents' faces on the boarded-up windows. It's got
one of the best art-blurbs:

"I am here was originally initiated by artists who are themselves long-term
residents of Samuel House. Through their open windows, facing on to the
canal, they often overheard passersby speculating on reasons for the
buildings demise and its current state. The installation aims to disturb
this one-way interrogation: onlookers no longer stand unchallenged, as their
gaze is met and returned by a multitude of faces consisting of current and
former residents on the estate. Thus the project literally humanises a piece
of architecture on its final journey"

What made it more interesting was that a few of the faces, as much as I tried to deny it in my head, remained looking a bit like your average cliched Crimewatch crack-dealer. It's incredibly hard to deny your initial response to it, as you're walking up to the building. The human face (regardless of my or anyone elses' assumptions) raw and with neutral expression, had a more humbling effect than anything else I could imagine, even if a few did look like they would leap out of the photo and beat you to a pulp if you eye-balled them for too long.

But still, there were plenty of wearied old men and wholesome housewives to balance it out. In my middle-class head I felt safer. And I bet even the ones I mentioned above work for the NHS or volunteer at community outreach programmes, the shits.

Noonski's comment

What a terrific thing to do! We so often make assumptions and judgments about people simply because of where they live, what their neighborhood and home looks like. Somehow, the fact that they are the 'other' and not the 'us' or 'we' blinds us to the fact that ultimately 'we' includes everyone.

Anonymous comment oct. 6th 2009

...there are no absolute truths in the days of mass communication, only the perspective of the observer and the observed, so aptly demonstrated by both this work and the re-interpretations of it by those outside of it...