Friday, 30 July 2010

Utilities in Exile

I picked up this map in Rare & Racy, Sheffield, on Monday, put it in my bag as a potentially interesting bit of ephemera, and thought little more of it until the next day, when I examined the map, at which point I realised I had traced very nearly the route it suggests uphill above central Sheffield, across a landscape of impossibly heroic public housing, almshouses, puritan villas for the Victorian middle classes, the rocket-like Cholera monument, and astounding views, revealing a particularly looming sky above the city's topographically delinquent skyline.

Aside from the act of making the maps themselves, The Sheffield Publicity Department have been leaving traces of their walks around the city, stencilled ghosts and logos, and in one case a red flag, to mark the existence of Zones of Interest in a neoliberal city. In the process, they assume a role as an imaginary, public counter-utility - a ministry of walks, dedicated to outlining and delineating routes of intrigue, survivals of an otherness that the city's actual publicity chiefs are bent on destroying.

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