Trickster No. 5: Iain Sinclair


Looking back thus far, many of my Tricksters have had an interesting relationship with travelling: Merton’s constant tension between staying and going, Gandhi’s galvanising experiences on the rail network, Kesey’s original Magic Mystery Tour… And now Iain Sinclair, who did many of his walks with Bill Drummond.

This should come as no surprise, for Hyde reminds us that Tricksters are characters who ‘live at the crossroads’, who are, by definition, travellers with no fixed address, caught in some mezzanine between earth and heaven.

Sinclair is in my list as a wonderful London Trickster, in particular for his book London Orbital which describes his attempts to walk around London’s M25 – London’s Orbital motorway.

"Was this grim necklace, opened by Margaret Thatcher on 29th October 1986, the true Perimeter fence? Did his conceptual ha-ha mark the boundary of whatever could be called London? Or was it a tourniquet, sponsored by the Department of Transport and Highways Agency, to choke the living breath from the metropolis?"

Keeping within the ‘acoustic footprint’ of this road "a rage-inducing asteroid belt,debris bumping and farting and belching around a sealed off city", Sinclair stumbles across converted asylums, secret government institutions and lost villages… His walk thus becoming a homage to the fringes, to the dirt out on the boundaries of our city – and thus a wonderful Trickster work on London, forcing us to re-evaluate the familiar, think more carefully about the tarmac we cruise over and the jams we wait in.

In homage to this walk, Vaux produced a 20 minute film called ‘Turbulence at the Boundary’, shot entirely on Super8 on a drive around the M25. A sad sign of the times, we were stopped by plain clothes police near Heathrow and told we weren’t allowed to film people without their permission… They failed to see the contradiction when we pointed out the CCTV cameras watching our every move, promised to stop filming, and didn’t. If you’d like a copy, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.