I also attach a lovely piece on the book from Alan Moore.

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Monumental in every sense, The Last London is a beautifully-chiselled hieroglyphic capstone set in place atop the fifty-year-high edifice of Iain Sinclair’s city writings, all the rising lines of the enquiry brought together in a Shard-like and impaling spike as the most potent voice in English letters finally gets to the point. The point, the sharp end of a thesis that has penetrated the metropolis to its last pavement-crack and last redacted voice, is endings and obliterations: districts, histories, human realities displaced by pipedream CGI or airbrushed retro-continuity; whole areas of Sinclair’s vital 4D map aggressively erased even as they were being drafted; galaxies of urban information swallowed up in the black singularity of a policy document’s final full stop. This is a startling cartography of holes, which questions whether the landscape described can still be said, in any useful sense, to be there.

In the half-a-century since he commenced his Hackney tenancy with the precarious Allen Ginsberg documentary detailed in Kodak Mantra Diaries, the wildfire in Sinclair’s writing has been focussed by his many subsequent excursions to a roaring blue lance of acetylene, bending hard language into thrilling new shapes with its heat and dazzle. The Last London’s prose, as masterful a schooling in that art as ever, nevertheless possesses warmth as well as heat, allowing us a sense of the compassionate, discriminating, psychologically well-fashioned man behind the welding goggles and intimidating literary style. Beginning from the fixed point of a vagrant sat for so long on a Haggerston Park bench that he’s become a topographic feature, Sinclair lights out on the sightline of this “Vegetative Buddha” to discover missing stained-glass saints, emergent narrowboat communities retooling Shoreditch as Shanghai and murdered television personalities bobbing in Broadway Market basin. He dogs the Whitechapel steps of profound melancholic W.G. Sebald and pursues ‘Mole Man of Hackney’ William Lyttle’s spittle-flecked route to a soon to be fracked underworld of subterranean art installations and proliferating basement cinemas. He samples the frenetic and dissociative vocal soundtrack of the city; he explores eye-watering and ammoniac pigeon ghettoes hidden beneath railway arches and in doing so re-crosses his own tracks from earlier works, meeting with past confederates and collaborators, until we have the impression of his long career of looping journeys as a Spirograph mandala with the moiré ballpoint scrawl of its event horizon circling Hackney.

As might be expected from the country’s least-pedestrian pedestrian, some extreme hoofing is involved in The Last London’s farsighted idea-trajectories, although that’s not to say that Sinclair is averse to other modes of transportation should the need arise – we find the author swimming lengths among the clouds in the too-obvious discarded J.G. Ballard story-outline of the Shard, and a surprising interlude where our man reincarnates as a cyclist to better fathom Boris Johnson’s London and its streaming rivulets of lycra is but one reminder of how funny Sinclair’s laser insights frequently turn out to be. The bitter truth is that he’s good at nearly everything, but rather than recalibrate our standards to leave almost every other writer looking indolent and shallow a much easier alternative is to dismiss his uniquely contemporary voice as difficult or unapproachable, lazy evasions brought on by the fact that while we love the way he says things we’re unnerved by what he’s saying. His diagnosis isn’t the diagnosis we were hoping for, so we complain that we can’t understand it when our problem, in reality, is that we can. With The Last London he concludes his lengthy autopsy then, ever the professional, he checks his watch and notes the place and time: Hackney, 1975 – 2016.

He and his subject have both come, in different ways, to a conclusion: London, or at least the gloriously complex thing that the word used to mean, is over. Information in a gaudy, toxic, undiscriminating flood has crashed our intellectual currency so that veracity and facts and meaning are devalued to the point where we are hauling them around in Weimar wheelbarrows. Nothing is true, and everything is permitted. Striding through the burning building in a shower of Twitter sparks and the collapsing beams of blackened ideology, assimilating the American election and the Brexit vote along with the enormous loss of legendary book dealer and rock guitarist Martin Stone, Sinclair’s tying of his stupefying forty-year-long narrative’s loose ends is masterful. His tender eulogy for Stone concludes a character-arc started with some memorable roadside vomiting in the opening pages of White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings. A revisiting of the abandoned settings for Downriver runs into the funeral rites of that book’s subject, Margaret Thatcher, and in The Last London we learn the specific nowhere that the infinite M25 of London Orbital was always leading to.

In this majestic culmination, Britain’s finest writer wraps up what turns out to have been one enormous opus, puts a truly lustrous finish on our finish, and, as gently as is possible, tells us where we and everything we knew have gone. In a career of masterpieces, this is Sinclair’s masterpiece.


London drawings

Liam O’Farrell makes drawings of his walks in London, and he hopes to walk with Iain and draw those walks too.


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Iain Sinclair is leaving London

The title is from an article on The Spectator authored by Sinclair McKay (I am feeling silly obsessing about the coincidental clash of name/surname).

Very few authors have fashioned a London more real than the one we see: Dickens, Conan Doyle, Patrick Hamilton, Angela Carter. Sinclair is firmly among them. While his contemporary Peter Ackroyd understands London as a city of eternally recurring patterns and echoes, Sinclair sees something more malign and gangrenous: forces that endlessly conspire to bend perception and bleach the streets of their real meaning.

Reading this article was also a great opportunity to learn a new word (“curmudgeonly“) which I will never be able to pronounce (that’s actually not the only thing I have learned from this article).



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Open City Documentary Festival (5-10 September)

As part of this year’s Open City Documentary Festival (5-10 September), we will be presenting a collection of events around artists/filmmakers John Smith and Andrew Kötting.

The programme John Smith: Lost in Leytonstone is characteristic of Smith’s formal ingenuity, anarchic wit and oblique narratives, creating mysterious and sometimes fantastical scenarios from documentary records of everyday life. His work is usually triggered by personal experiences, often occurring in or around his east London domestic environment. The films in this programme all focus on the built environment and were made between 1985 and 1996, while Smith was living in short-life housing in Leytonstone.


The industry event John Smith: Give Chance a Chance invites John Smith to talk about how he first became fascinated by the potential of chance and how he incorporates it as an integral part of his working process.The event will be illustrated by a number of his short films, starting with The Girl Chewing Gum.

Pump follows filmmakers Joseph David and Andrew Kötting on a seven-day voyage across an 11 mile stretch of disused monorail in Northern France. Standing eight meters above the ground this concrete viaduct is a relic of the Aérotrain test track: an ambitious project developed in the late 1960s for a nationwide high-speed hovertrain service, which was eventually abandoned due to lack of funds. They travel in a homemade pump trolley, affectionately nicknamed Albertine, and move at an average speed of 2 mph. Folly or quest? Either way, there is no discernable reason for this undertaking, but the challenge of this Dadaist road movie speaks for itself.

Kötting will also be exploring his filmography as part of our Kötting’s Köllaborators & Könfabulators event at the Bargehouse, our festival hub this year


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With David Aylward, Claudia Barton, Anonymous Bosch, Jem Finer, Andrew Kötting, Eden Kötting, Alan Moore and Iain Sinclair.

21.06.17 HOME Manchester – Andrew Kötting Performance Q&A
23.06.17 ICA London – Andrew Kötting – Iain Sinclair Readings Q&A
25.06.17 East End Film Festival David Aylward – Claudia Barton – Jem Finer – Andrew Kötting – Iain Sinclair – 80 minute Film Performance
23.06.17 Tyneside Newcastle Andrew Kötting Q&A
24.06.17 Curzon Bloomsbury
02.07.17 Curzon Aldgate London Andrew Kötting – Claudia Barton Performance
02.07.17 / 03.07.17 IFI Dublin
03.07.17 / 04.07.17 / 05.07.17 Barbican London
07.07.17 Showroom Sheffield Andrew Kötting Q&A
09.07.17 Watershed Bristol Andrew Kötting Q&A
09.07.17 Broadway Nottingham
11.07.17 Chapter Cardiff
15.07.17 / 16.07.17 Queens Film Theatre Belfast
18.07.17 East Dulwich Picturehouse
19.07.17 Glasgow Film Theatre Glasgow Andrew Kötting Q&A
20.07.17 Filmhouse Edinburgh Andrew Kötting Q&A

Kötting’s project is in large part a lark; and it’s his mixing of fairly serious intellectual conjecture with whimsy, jokes and gossip that gives it its life – SIGHT & SOUND Film Of The Month

The future of humanity will be okay as long as artist, filmmaker and galavanting bohemian, Andrew Kötting, just keeps on keeping on.

He’s Chaucer with an iPhone, capturing the bruised landscapes of Olde Albion and keeping a record of his rambling, shambling pilgrimages, all in memory of fallen eccentrics.