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"It's Never Dull In Hull" - A City In Fishnets

Part 2 Project 2001
Andrew Puncher
University of Nottingham
"Its Never Dull in Hull: a City in Fishnets", questions Hull City Council and Terry Farrell's museum quarter's "selective museumification" and the choice of the celebrated and denied heritage. The decline of the exhibited fishing industry in Hull has led, with massive unemployment, to a growth in associated prostitution, sexually transmitted disease and drug abuse rates. Through a brief developed with prostitutes, outreach workers, sexual health groups and the City's museum staff, the scheme utilises the nature of the exhibition to assert this socially denied alternative living history through social support and safe sex space interventions, simultaneously using the museum as fundamental fantasy zones in seperating private and public realities for client and vendor in the paid sexual liaison. The objectification of exhibit and prostitute, and the consequent selection of the celebrated becomes focussed forcing a reconsideration of social process and perception. The boundary between exhibit and intervention is blurred allowing destigmatisation and anonymity, simultaneously drawing parallels between past and present. For example the slavery museum is linked to , and exchanges exhibits with, the domestic violence and drug abuse centres and the Victorian Arcade becomes, as reference to its historic use, costumed soliciting space for the paid liaison.
Andrew Puncher


This project has hidden depth - in every sense of the word. Much research was done into the social problems of the city including the unemployment caused by the decline of the fishing industry and the subsequent attempt by the city authorities to reinvent it as a tourist destination on the back of its heritage as a fishing port. Lost in the 'official' histories on display in both the new and existing museums, is the sordid side of life in the city, both historical and contemporary. To offer some resistance to the sanitising effects of the current gentrification and to offer some hope to those who need help to survive (and even escape) the 'invisible economies' of sex, drugs and homelessness, this project takes the social programmes of treatment for sexual health, domestic violence, and controlled paid sexual encounters and injects them into the existing spaces of the variously themed museums. This combination walks a tightrope of moralising condescension and formalistic self-indulgence, but ultimately appears to save itself through a strategy of dense spatial layerings that cleverly intertwine the 'opposing' functions and a minimalist tectonic rigour hiding beneath the perhaps too obviously organic insertions.

2001
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