They put the lurk in so you don’t have to.
Art collective The Lurkers have been leaving their mark around the world since 2012. While you're busy looking for memes to tag your mates in or witnessing another heavily filtered pair of legs on a south-east Asian beach, the London-born group create the impression of - apologies for the cliche - seeing the world off the beaten track. While pursuing their exploits over the years, they've managed to capture the UK capital city as a place going through dramatic, lightspeed change; some of the views they've put in their new book Lurking In London aren't even available anymore.
Don't Panic recently had the opportunity to meet the Lurkers to discuss the book's genesis, gentrification, politics and more. Plus RSVP for the book's launch here!
For those that don’t know, who are you and what to do you do?
We are the Lurkers and we professionally Lurk globally.
What lurking was to be had this weekend?
The weekend was a moderately humble affair – what with it being winter and all. Also, we are in between a lot of projects, all coming to fruition at once so we’re mostly banging out gruelling admin tasks in our motorway business centre.
Your debut book Lurking in London is released on Monday, how long has this been in the making?
It’s a culmination of the last 4 years of our creative endeavours around London. At the time, we didn’t know it would turn into a book we were just mindlessly amassing images from our creative frivolities. Then all of a sudden, we had a book on our hands.
You have been all over the world leaving your mark, and have made a zine or two in the past, but is there a particular reason why London deserved the book ahead of anywhere else?
London deserved the book because London is home. It seemed like an obvious choice for us in the past, and for that reason we refrained from doing it before. Opting instead for doing short runs of zines centred around Istanbul and Tokyo, but after those had been put together we saw the appeal of having everything documented in one place and decided to turn it into a comprehensive overview of our London archive.
You describe the book as a wealth of “London’s hidden or under-appreciated charm, from hard to access viewpoints and hidden locations rarely visited by your average London inhabitant… to the well-known, long standing, city features that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.” Tell us some particular spots, perhaps places that don't exist now?
A lot of our favourite spots are no longer in existence, or accessible – either due to gentrification or because of increased security. A favourite is Sweet’s Way estate in Barnet – which became abandoned and then squatted, when we visited there was a strange dystopian stand-off between the remaining residents of the ‘Sweetstopia’ squat and high vis development workers, with the strange addition of a portly security guard scanning the perimeter with a very big Rottweiler. Another big favourite which is now no more is a massive greenhouse in East Finchley Cemetery, pictured in the book with the ‘Growing Nowhere’ painting on display.
You also explain that the book is intended to demonstrate the harsher aspects of gentrification of some areas and display complete desertion of others. Gentrification is clearly an issue that strikes a chord, but what would you do to stop it?
We’d stop prioritising private sector development projects which do not enrich existing communities. Where buildings have ceased to serve their purpose in areas we would attempt to look into ways that a something new could reinvigorate local communities in a positive way, rather than just slapping a glass shaft of Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop and highly priced penthouse apartments.
It’s fair to say The Lurkers care more than most about London and its community; given the sad state of affairs the UK is currently in, with those clueless morons in government, what would you do if - by some bizarre series of events - we ended up with a majority Lurker government?
If the Lurkers did end up with a majority government the first thing we would do would be abolish capitalism. We would fucking abolish that shit so hard that you wouldn't even be able to buy our new book, Lurking in London, available from the 28th November, because the means with which to pay for items such as cornflakes, Denise Van Outen calendars and novelty mugs that say things like 'Keep Calm And Buy Lurking in London, our new book out November 28th', would be meaningless, as decreed by the state (which is now run by us, The Lurkers).
Who’d the Lurkers have in their cabinet?
Probably just our mates to ensure a steady stream of in-jokes and mockery of the serious issues at hand – not dissimilar from the current cabinet in that respect.
The Lurkers have their first meeting with Trump, what would they do?
Most likely make an elaborate excuse as to why we couldn’t make the meeting.
What can’t the Lurkers leave the house without?
Our clothing, wallet, house keys, mobile telephones and sense of entitlement.
What have Lurkers been listening to recently?
We’ve mainly been listening to a lot of the same stuff we’ve been listening to since our teenage years.
Lurkers is a lifestyle, what makes up that lifestyle? Healthy diet, early nights, early morning yoga sessions?
I'm glad you've asked that question, because here at Lurker HQ we really do believe that Lurking is a lifestyle. Our famous catchphrase is 'We put in the Lurk so you don't have to' and we don't just say it to ourselves every morning, whispering it into each other’s ears over our first whiskey and coffee of the day, but we really act on it, even if it means we sometimes get in a spot of trouble here and there, haha! No, but seriously, we'll come to your fucking house even when you're having a house party with 50 man and spook you the fuck out, don't watch that.
As I was saying, Lurking is our life. But what is life? Well for me life is kind of like that bit of the morning when everyone's kind of unsure whether to go home or carry on taking drugs at an after jam. You know, about 4 or 5am in the morning, maybe the sun is rising and it's starting to let the sunlight in, it's getting grey and you can see the faces and the hollow look in each other’s eyes. Shit has gone too far. 'Fuck', you think, 'This has gone too far'. That's what life is. Basically, it's do or die out here.
Who would The Lurkers collaborate with if they could? Cadbury Lurkish Delight. I’m thinking David Attenborough x The Lurkers: The Story of the Lurk or maybe Lurkey Planet. Seems like something the whole world needs to see, but perhaps there's a more realistic one?
Firstly, David Attenborough recently advocated gun crime with a typically offhand quip in which he said he thought that somebody should shoot Donald Trump. Now, look, the big D.A is a fucking national treasure, no doubt about it, like did you see that bit in Planet Earth 2 when the iguana escaped the fucking snakes? Fuck man. That shit was life changing. But yeah, he endorses gun crime and as a born and bred Londoner I cannot abide by even someone as close to my heart wishing to draw for the skeng, even if it is against someone as deplorable as Donald Trump. We don't like guns, we're not fucking Americans. You wanna fight then fucking punch me in the face or fuck off back to California with your oversized fast food portions.
Anyway, to answer your question we've always wanted to do a collaboration with Lurpak butter. We'd call it 'Lurpak and The Lurkers are as smooth as butter'.
2016 has been a fuckery, how would you guys sum it up?
Aside from the socio-political side of things it’s been a fantastic year for us. With lots of productivity both in life and as a brand – travelling to a plethora of worldwide destinations and creating content, though perhaps this is quite a selfish way to view the world. 2016 was the same as any other year, aside from the tragic loss of Harambe, which truly proved that the ability of common man to rally together and support an important cause has not been lost. Celebrities died, some celebrities got robbed at gunpoint, some politicians that not everyone liked made decisions that not everyone liked. When you don’t base your life on the goings on of popular culture and make your own moves you realise that your quality of life is almost completely determined by you, if you are fortunate enough to have the means with which to do so.
Finally, what should we be looking out for after the book?
After the book launch we are dropping our Autumn/Winter range online – then shortly after that we are flying to Amsterdam where we’ve got a pop-up shop & exhibition happening at Hacka, a new agency/creative space in the city… from there we will be selling some archived t-shirts of ours and building content for the continuation of this project next year.
Keep on Lurking. Thanks!