Copyright of Veronika Lukasova.
Copyright of Veronika Lukasova.

It’s not only Banksy’s installations that get defaced by protestors. Visitors to Borough High Street’s  Zenith House are ushered into a darkened room and encouraged to scream and shout to activate the multi-coloured lightshow inside the derelict building.  The art installation is called House of Pain and is part of Bankside’s Merge festival

The creators could be forgiven for yelling themselves when a man known only as ‘Jerry’ vandalised the piece in an unprovoked attack on Thursday evening. He scrawled the name and ‘Hastings’ on the wall in in chalk before insulting the attendant and running out.

Mark Logue, one of the creators, was shocked when The Independent informed him of the apparently random attack. The scream-activated artwork is certainly avant  garde, but unlike famously-vandalised works by Banksy and Damian Hirst, House of Pain is inoffensive and has no political message. Logue said, ‘We don’t know why he did it. I couldn’t imagine a more benign protest; he just tagged his name and ran out’.

The incident isn’t isolated. Logue says that staff have ‘developed a hard shell’ over the four weeks of the festival because there is a lot of antisocial behaviour on Borough High Street: ‘the street has more than its fair share of drunken people. Because the house has been empty for so long, people feel entitled to hang out in there’.

Visitor Phillip praised House of Pain as ‘a great way to make use of otherwise empty space. It’s exciting to get to see it whilst it’s here. The one downside is that the artist has to put up with this sort of mindless vandalism – I don’t understand why anyone would do that’.

Luckily, no permanent damage was done, and the installation remains open. Creators ML Studios should be used to rowdy audiences: they produced video displays for Metallica’s 2012 tour and forthcoming film Into The Never.

House of Pain at Zenith House, 135 Borough High Street, is open to visitors from 5pm to 10pm daily until Sunday 20th October as part of Merge festival.

Photo copyright of Veronika Lukasova.



Zoah Hedges-Stocks is a journalist looking for opportunities in digital journalism in London. She read History at Cambridge University, where she was twice Editor-In-Chief of The Cambridge Student. She is currently writing a dreadful novel, and is keen to take on any freelance writing assignments that you might like to throw her way. Twitter: @zoah_hs

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