UCL Urban Laboratory


Ben Campkin on Derek Jarman's King's Cross in 3:AM Magazine

6 March 2014

As part of UCL Urban Laboratory's Derek Jarman: Sites and Spaces study day on February 13, Dr Ben Campkin (Director, UCL Urban Laboratory) gave a talk on Jarman's relationship with King's Cross, which is now available to read via 3:AM Magazine

The talk introduced footage of King's Cross made by Jarman and his collaborators for the Pet Shop Boys. These images comprised a promo for 'Rent' (1987) and a later Super 8 film that was made to be back-projected during the Pet Shop Boys' 1989 tour as they performed the track 'King's Cross'. Completed before the King's Cross tube station fire (November 1987) the song uses the area as a downbeat emblem of Margaret Thatcher's Britain, around the time that media hysteria on the AIDS crisis peaked. The elegiac footage imbues an everyday city space with poetic tension, echoing the track's sense of suspension and disorientation. The essay can be read on 3:AM Magazine here.

The Derek Jarman: Sites and Spaces study day also included talks with Alan Hollinghurst (Author, The Swimming-Pool Library; The Line of Beauty), Henry Miller (film historian and critic), Dr Hilary Powell (artist and AHRC Fellow, UCL Bartlett School of Architecture), Richard Maguire (Lecturer, Arcadia University in London), Professor Jonathan Hill (architect, academic and author), Dr Bob Mills (UCL History of Art), Nigel Green (photographer), and Professor Stephen Farthing RA (Co-editor, Derek Jarman's Sketchbooks). Audio from all of these talks will be available soon on our Mixcloud page.