Hackney,Tthat Rose-Red Empire is Iain Sinclair's personal record of the area of London in which he has lived for forty years. It is a documentary fiction, seeking to capture the spirit pf place, before Hackney succumbs to mendacious green papers, eco boasts, sponsored public art and the Olympic Park gnawing at its edges.
Sinclair meets a cast of the dispossessed: writers, painters, photographers, barbers, surgeons, market traders, gangsters and bomb-makers. Legends of tunnels, Hollow Earth theories and the notorious Mole Man are unearthed. He uncovers traces of those who passed through Hackney: Lenin and Stalin; novelists Joseph Conrad and Samuel Richardson; comet discoverer Edmond Halley and scientist Joseph Priestley; filmmakers Orson Welles and Jean-Luc Godard; Tony Blair beginning his political career; even a Baader-Meinhof urban guerrilla on the run. And tells his own story: of forty years in one house, marriage, children, strange encounters, deaths . . .
Once an Arcadian suburb of grand houses, orchards and conservations, Hackney declined into a zne of asylums, hospitals and dirty industry. Persistently revived, reinvented, betrayed, it has become a symbol of inner-city chaos, crime and poverty. Now, the Olympics, a final attempt to clamp down on a renegade spirit, seeks to complete the process: erasure disguised as 'progress'.
Iain Sinclair's Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire is a message in a bottle, Chucked into the flood of the future.