The latest piece of video art by Mediolana‘s Creative Director and CSO Asad Yawar to be explicated in this blog shows him continuing to address issues surrounding contemporary urban life. Harefield: A Retrospective sees Yawar attempt to capture the essence of the U9 bus route, a circular service which begins at the Zone 6 station of Uxbridge in the far suburbs of North-West London and reaches out into Harefield, where it just avoids leaving the Greater London Authority area by swerving in the middle of a steep downward gradient and partially retracing its steps, ending up in Harefield Hospital, the sister institution of the Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea.
The opening shot of this work – filmed entirely inside a U9 bus – focuses on a priority seats sign; it is clear from the stillness of the shot that the bus is stationary. This sense of stillness intensifies in the subsequent shots, which show a bus devoid of passengers and an electronic destination board; and two quick shots illustrating an empty pushchair space and a priority seats sign (it is not clear if this is the same sign featured in the first shot). The final sequence – a POV shot from the sole passenger’s perspective of looking out of the window at a disappearing hospital – may allude to the breakdown of the welfare consensus in the United Kingdom over the past generation, which would certainly fit in with the general sense of paradoxical isolation and social categorisation that this piece exudes.