Vision Quest: A Ritual for Elephant & Castle is a documentary film which explores the transitions currently taking place in the South London neighbourhood. The documentary follows artist/shaman Marcus Coates as he sets out on a ‘vision quest’ in the heart of this neighbourhood, Elephant and Castle, to search out animal spirits to help guide the local community through a period of change. The film includes scenes with residents from the Heygate Estate, Southwark councillors and a psychedelic doom rock orchestra, Chrome Hoof. All embark on a journey deep into the neighbourhood in search of alternative ways to find solutions to the overbearing problem confronting them all.
More than anything I was trying to understand what was happening here. … It’s a very political thing. I’m optimistic about change. I think everyone acknowledges there needs to be change here. But I’m pessimistic about what’s going to be lost here. By spending time here, I’m valuing things now that are perhaps being overlooked a bit. The idea of mixed communities and the idea of historic communities here: I think that’s a really essential part of Elephant & Castle. It’s going to be very sad if that’s totally lost. In a way that’s the basis of the future of the Elephant & Castle. You can’t just reinvent a society. You can’t reinvent a community. – Marcus Coates, April 2012
A live performance with Marcus Coates and Chrome Hoof took place at The Coronet, New Kent Road, on June 5th 2009 with live visuals and sound from the collective. This live show forms the centre of the film as apex of the quest for answers and solutions.
The feature-length film was the culmination of a four year local residency undertaken by Marcus Coates between 2009 and 2012. The film was commissioned and produced by Nomad Projects. It was directed by Marcus Coates and Michael Smythe, with cinematography by Annemarie Lean-Vercoe and editing by Ariadna Fatjo-Vilas.