Wren’s church of 1697 has become a defining statement of the renaissance in London; a barroque pin-point of taste and order within the sprawl. The old Norman Cathedral had fulfilled a dual role; as well as a place of worship it was also a place of secular gathering prior in the pre-fire City. An abundance of market stalls huddled around its buttresses where pamphlets were distributed and political preachers lectured the masses.
An invitation to Occupy London brings me here today, and this same image of the old cathedral comes to mind. I am welcomed by someone thrusting a paper into my hands, The Occupied Times, second edition. A congested mess of tents pushes up against the building: mostly places of dwelling but also tents offering goods and services – food, t-shirt printing, massage, books and an internet cafe.
Paternoster Square is cordoned off, but its perimeter buildings are also covered with printed posters. This is an encampment of communication. Impromptu discussion groups pontificate and headstrong preachers deliver personal sermons from the steps of St Paul’s for the amusement of geographic and lifestyle tourists.
Occupy London is an exuberant situationist exploration of the medieval. An historical renactment designed to jolt us into an inherited cultural ethos of shared language.