UCL Urban Laboratory


May Mo(u)rn

Professor Jane Rendell

May Mo(u)rn is a site-writing project led by Jane Rendell, in which a collection of abandoned black and white photographs of modernist architectural icons found in a derelict Arts and Crafts house called May Morn forms a starting point for a discussion of the modernist project and its socialist ideals. Morn and mourn are homonyms, with one suggesting a beginning and the other an ending. Morning begins the day, while mourning - grieving - marks an ending. Due to their deteriorating material states, the May Morn house and the paper of the photographs point towards their own disintegration, or endings, while the buildings contained within the photographs are shown at the beginning of their life. This text-image work reflects on London's postwar social housing projects as lost utopian dreams and contemporary ideals yet worth striving for, juxtaposing resurgence and decay. It has been published as 'May Morn', in Di Robson and Gareth Evans (eds), The Re-Enchantment: Place and Its Meanings, (an Arts Council of England funded publication) (London: Artevents, 2010); 'Residues of a Dream World', Gerrie van Noord (ed), To Have and to Hold: Future of a Contested Landscape, (Glasgow: NVA, 2011); 'One Way Street or "The Degeneration of Things"', Julie Westerman (ed.) Brutalist Speculations and Flights of Fancy (Sheffield: Site Gallery, 2011); 'A Configuration Pregnant with Tensions', Matthew Gandy (ed) Urban Constellations (Berlin:Jovis Verlag, 2011); 'May Mourn' (text-image work) Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosely Beyond Utopia (Errant Bodies Press, 2012).