Memo Mori is a journey through Hackney tracing loss and disappearance. A canoe trip along the canal, the huts of the Manor Garden allotments in Hackney Wick, demolition, relocation, a magical bus tour through the Olympic park and a Hell’s Angel funeral mark a seismic shift in the topography of East London.
This film has been assembled from fragments of footage shot over three years, 2006–2009, in Hackney, each section being an event or observation of something that has been or is about to be erased from the landscape. It has been woven together with Iain Sinclair’s response to the images and readings from his book Hackney, That Red Rose Empire.
The film begins with a canoe trip taken with the photographer Stephen Gill along a canal into the ‘Olympic zone’. Here, before the security barriers came down to the water line, we discovered a shipwreck and a pair of kingfishers. Then we arrive at the Manor Garden allotments where the huts, each unique, their characters a manifestation of their owners’ personality, are due to be demolished to make way for what we do not really know – an Olympic park or car park. We take a magical bus tour around the Olympic park in the Demolish, Dig and Design phase, which, as Iain narrates in the film, is all statistics and logistics, piles of mud and no photography. Finally, we attend a Hells Angels funeral where a death on the motorway is immortalised on Hackney Roadd with wreaths of flowers, Satan’s Slaves, and RIP in black roses.