Street Training on Screen at the South London Gallery - statement from the film maker Ed Webb-Ingall

Submitted by Lottie on Wed, 2011-03-30 08:25


As a resident of South London and having worked with the young people at South London Gallery on a number of projects I have always been interested in the interplay between these different organisations. Street Training is very much about community, young people, and the mixture of art and play that the South London Gallery is known for. When I was approached to document the process of Street Training in association with the local Police in the autumn of 2010 I was excited and to be honest slightly nervous of the challenge. I had only ever engaged with the young people in the ‘safe’ confines of the art gallery, so to be out on the front line, if you like, engaging with them very much on their territory and on their terms I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I quickly became interested in the processes and transformations that took place when we took to the streets and walkways of the surrounding neighbourhoods and high rises. I was excited to be part of this gang in yellow hoodies, making play with lamp posts and slow motion dancing, creating arches with our bodies through which local residents walked and seeing the area and the people that populate it in a new light. I found myself viewing ramps and kerbs and phone boxes with new found curiosity, gauging heights and drops and looking for ways to make sounds and shapes in unexpected places. I became evangelical about street training and wondered if the police and local authorities would put a dampener on this when invited to join our gang.

As it turned out they approached the streets and tower blocks with a similar sense of familiarity as the young people. Although not always as agile or quick to go blind folded into the wilderness, the relationships that were apparent were those of equality and understanding and of a common appreciation of the streets. I wanted to capture all this in the film, not making it dogmatic or biased, I wanted to present street training in its most honest form, showing how it is just as effective when alone as when in a group. I hoped that the form would reflect the content, that my approach to film making and editing would be at times confusing and hard to unpick, so the viewer wouldn’t always know if they were seeing adults at play or young people at work and vice versa. To blur the lines of what might be seen as social and anti social, to show that these people and spaces are the same in the day as they are at night and the scariest thing about them is not the people that populate them but the thoughts we have when walking around them.

At a time when the streets are being used as a place of personal and political protest and demonstration, where lines are being drawn about what is considered social and antisocial I am excited by the way they can be transformed into a playground or a stage and not simply a way of rushing from place to place.

Ed Webb-Ingall

1. News Report about High Rise Living in South London (date unknown) – 1 min 38
2. A Study In Choreography For The Camera, dir. Maya Deren, 1945 16 mm to digital – 3 mins
An exploration of the dancer in relation to space and the ideas around capturing movement with film and editing. Often cited as the first artist dance film. It is a duet between Talley Beatty, the dancer, and the space he is in.
3. A Dance in the Sun, dir. Shirley Clarke, 1953 – 6 mins 41
Clarke, a leading figure in the New York film community began her career as a dancer. In 1953, she adapted choreographer Daniel Nagrin's "A Dance in the Sun" to film.
4. Street Training, dir. Ed Webb-Ingall, 2010-2011, 12 mins 8