Andrea Baldo

documentary photographer

When the east ends

London, UK - Every four years, it descends upon a new city, radically distorting the landscape and the people who live there. Some places are left in ruins, others just left behind, but all are seduced by the golden promise of something better. It’s not a curse, spirit, or siren song—it’s the Olympic Games.

In the spectrum of broken promises, East London—who hosted the festivities in 2012—falls somewhere in the middle. It does not bear the decimated stadiums of Greece, left to decay like a forgotten Acropolis; nor does it claim the soaring profile of Barcelona, who used the 92 Games to drastically improve their tourism. Through this body of work I dissect Lea Valley, a historically working class and migrant community, to examine how the Olympic legacy has affected those who call the East End home.

Stratford is one of the major centres identified in the development strategy known as the “London Plan.” In the middle of the town there now lies The Westfield—one of the biggest shopping malls in all of Europe.

In the period leading up to the construction of the Olympic Park, I remember seeing posters attached to the winding construction fences stating, “We're building up your future.” Looking out over the boroughs, cosmetically improved but culturally depleted, it’s unclear exactly whose future this is.

I was forced to move as a result of Olympic gentrification. Rather curtly, the news came over email, explaining I had two months to get out. “I was pushed out because the place where I lived in East London was sold, due to the increasing price of estates in Newham.”

(Text extracted from an interview by Chris Ames on ViewFind )

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