The Coalition of the Dispossessed

Investigation by Anna Colin


Anti-Social Social Club: Episode One, The Chamber of the Dispossessed, Thursday 15 June 2017, 7pm. On the initiative of artist Ève Chabanon, around forty people gathered in the council chamber at the town hall of Barking and Dagenham, a borough of outer East London. For one evening, this highly symbolic site, usually closed to the public, welcomed local and non-local residents, members of the Women’s Institute, students form the local Eastbury Community School, artists, a poet and a local councillor. The aim of the Anti-Social Social Club was to create a fictional temporary coalition—that of the dispossessed—and show the fragility of the democratic apparatus through a performative debate. The evening was led by moderator and performance artist Chloe Cooper, who invited the assembled guests to talk about themes that are especially binary and divisive such as: dependence (on money, authority, others) and independence (in finances and thought); difference and the suspicion of difference (do we identify with cultural and social “others”, or do we fear them?); social and economic inclusion and exclusion; states of emergency and the gentrification of the city by art. Although the moderator’s contributions were prepared, the coalition’s replies were mostly improvised. However, several tools were used to give direction and unity to this coalition, which would ultimately, in a more or less voluntary way, accept the light-hearted sense of play sought by Ève Chabanon.

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