“London Burning: Portraits From a Creative City” is a snapshot of the state of fashion, art, cinema, theatre, music, architecture and technology edited by the writer and publisher Hossein Amirsadeghi and the editor Maryam Eisler.
Published by Thames & Hudson, it contains more than 100 new interviews with the likes of Nicholas Serota, director of Tate; Antony Gormley; Gilbert & George; Fergus Henderson and Ruthie Rogers; Alexandra Shulman; Grayson Perry; and Coca himself, who said it was “exhilarating” to take part in the project.
“I’m fascinated by the creativity of others — and instinctively support projects that celebrate it,” said Coca, who saw his inclusion in the book as a “true welcome” back to London, where he has worked before, and taught fashion students at Central Saint Martins.
The event took place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts with guests including Saffron Aldridge, Bethan Laura Wood, Mollie Dent Brocklehurst, Mark Hix, Mat Collishaw and Ron Arad. Artists including Delilah, Jordan Stephens of Rizzle Kicks, Natalia Kremen, NTS Radio and Charlie Siem performed.
However, some troubling issues emerged during a Q&A about the book held earlier in the evening. They centered on the high property prices — and the cost of living — in the British capital.
Amirsadeghi said he believes London has now reached its creative zenith, “and the future is troubling. From here on in I see only decline, and the Manhattan-ization of London. There is a sense of foreboding. Creatives have become gypsies, looking for shelter.”
Gregor Muir, the ICA’s executive director, said it’s certainly “a moment of pause” for London, which over the past decade has been inundated with property developers, speculators, and foreign residents who live in the city part-time and don’t pay tax.
He said the late-Eighties crash in the London property market meant lots of cheap space for artists, who were able to live and work “in a non-monetary driven way.” Those days, however, are long gone.
“A lot of creative people are going to Berlin and other cities,” he said. “It’s time for London to pause, reflect and ask ‘Are we sure about this?’”