Paying homage to the playground of his youth, Eddie Peake’s appropriately named Concrete Pitch at the White Cube Bermondsey is an ode to Finsbury Park. The vacuous pink space is a sensory experience that evokes nostalgia for adolescence and gives an insight to Peake’s typical teenage North London upbringing, that although is probably not particularly different to any other coming-of-age tale set in 90s Britain, portrays his exposure to and mixing with ‘people of every age, class and ethnicity’ that London has to offer.
Large concrete sport pitches are common in the UK, especially London, due to their low maintenance/low cost to the council and have served as a congregational space for youths for several decades. Peake’s exhibition seeks to replicate his personal tarmac wasteland, and looks at many aspects of British street culture – football, weed, graffiti and drum’n’bass – all inspirational aspects of Peake’s life that until now he never chose to use in his art; ‘I used to treat things I did like graffiti and football and dance classes as not part of my art, then I had a sort of epiphany. I realised I want all those parts of my life in my art, and vice versa.’
An almost immersive experience, the exhibition’s audio is a live broadcasting from East London’s longstanding underground station Kool London, that was established in 1991 and played the soundtrack to Peake’s formative years. Jungle, garage and drum’n’bass blare from a booth of DJs, and Stroud Green Road – seen as a snake-shaped table that runs right through the heart of the space from one side to the other, display trays with an array of knickknacks bought from shops on the street, as well as speakers that shake as they sound off bassy low beats.
Repetition is a central component in defining Peake’s work; the lopping choreography videos, the circular graffiti motifs as well as the repetitive soundtrack are illustrative of the cyclical nature of youth, particularly Peake’s youth, that saw depression and obsession in monotonous daily rituals. Perhaps the most unusual, and profound sentiment is the artist that ‘plays himself’; Peake mills about the space as he would have done Finsbury Park, owning it confidently. A sentimental experience, the various aspects of sound, video, graffiti and sculpture is at times a little confused, but perhaps this juxtaposition is intentional? Because after all, it’s London’s own sense of chaos and contradiction that makes it so great.