On the bow of each grand naval ship that once sailed from Deptford was a figurehead of three-fold importance – as optimistic protectorate against evil spirits; as demonstration of power and as illustration of the ships’s name for the illiterate. This totemic feature holds immense symbolic power yet its mere existence undermines its basic aim – the very weight of the figure weighs down the bow, disturbs hydrodynamics, impedes steering and ultimately endangers the crew.
The decorative as futile, self-defeating and impotent is the oblique angle from which this project is drawn. As a research collective working mainly in text and imagery KIOSK would like to present a small, free to distribute publication entitled ‘figure head’ that will explore the figurehead as metaphor for the decorative and the bombastic – the vacuous, emptied out sign.
The texts will consist of collaborative and individual contributions by members of KIOSK and invited writers with whom we have previously worked and will aim to explore Deptford’s maritime palimpsest through this metaphorical figurehead as both a ‘brave front’ for vulnerability and how this translates into the more vernacular sense of the figurehead as a prominent figure lacking in authority.
A Deptford X commission, 2011
If you would like to receive a free copy of figure head, send a stamped, addressed A5 envelope to: KIOSK, The Old Police Station, 114 Amersham Vale, Deptford SE14 6LG