Performance, objects and interventions at b-side Festival 2016, 2018 and 2021, Isle of Portland, Dorset
The Portland Office for Imaginary History was a commission for b-side Festival in 2016, 2018 and 2021, a satirical tourist information bureau providing entirely false visitor information, ecology, paleontology, maps, (non) fact sheets, stories, walks and souvenirs from an imaginary Isle of Portland where women, immigrants, working class, disabled, LGBTQ+ and other marginalised people get the historical recognition they deserve. The Office for Imaginary History also encourages locals to view the place they live in with the same excitement that they would if they were on holiday. When not out leading tours (up to six tours daily), I was in the office telling stories, providing directions and maps, and selling postcards or souvenirs.
The festival ran 10-18 September in 2016 and you can check out the full programme and documentation here. Scroll down for lots of photos of the office, performances and objects by myself, Peter James Millson and Paul Box. See my previous commission for b-side 2014 here.
The Portland Office for Imaginary History returned to b-side festival 8-16 September 2018, as a mobile unit. This time I led expeditions– including wheelchair/mobility scooter-accessible tours– around Portland to see all the imaginary history with an amazing new transparency viewer and s(lie)des. See more photos from the 2018 tours here.
The mobile unit returned again for the September 2021 festival, again at maximum capacity! See more photos here.
(Above) Tourist disinformation signs.
(Below) Some of the Office for Imaginary History’s “fact” files: the surveillance budgies of Project Prettyboy, the Prince Albert Analytical Engine, Mrs. Feathers’ Portland-set novel The Adversities of Fannie (1812), horned lagomorphs, Dorset’s wife sales, the Portland Lizard Man, and the history of the Office for Imaginary History itself.