Xinbei Li

"A Part of the City: Neglected Voice"

Section MS4, Mirna Pedalo

Keywords: performance, moving image, documentation, music/sound

London is a ‘music power station’, and a coveted place to be if you’re a busker. The street performances help up-and-coming artists to showcase their talent, as well as to perform in front of larger audience. London seemingly gives buskers a vast space, and what might appear as unlimited possibilities.

In this project I would like to mediate the challenges that up-and-coming artists face in their attempt to become street performers in London. Although they might seem open and easily accessible, both the streets of London and the London Underground are in fact highly regulated spaces, where one is required to have a licence to be able to perform. Process for obtaining one is long and arduous, and some boroughs, such as Camden, have made busking illegal and have even introduced high fines for performing without a licence.

In contrast to this, project ‘Play me, I’m yours’ introduced by a UK artist Luke Jerram in 2012, brought 1,500 pianos to the streets of 50 cities across the globe, from New York to Florence. In London, there are only 5 such pianos, and they are free to use by anyone.

To engage with the issues above I have made a short film, where I also take part in some of the street performances.