Tensed Muscles


In 2019, Klenz was commissioned to undertake the Camden Alive Project, which is part of the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture. As part of the commission she focused on the Maiden Lane Estate in Camden and collaborated with the Maiden Lane Hip Hop artists Brownsilla and Boss B.

The Maiden Lane Estate, designed by architects Benson and Forsyth, was a visionary, Modernist scheme which included plans for 400 new homes, shops, sports facilities, a community centre, a primary school and open spaces. Due to financial pressures in the late 1970s the plans were not fully realised, resulting in a split site and years of practical and social challenges. During the 1980’s and 1990’s which saw an escalation of drug use, prostitution, gun and knife crime, Maiden Lane became known as a poor and run-down housing estate. Tensed Muscles explores the relationship between the architectural promise of modernist living; of equality and opportunity, and the reality of living in Maiden Lane in the 40 years since its inception.

Klenz layers images of the neighbourhood, mixed with architectural plans, archive material and hand-drawn medical illustration to unearth what is hidden beneath the surface of the site. Klenz is interested in the entanglements of the poetic, political and socio-economic aspects of the neighbourhood and uses the metaphor of the ‘phantom limb’ to present this. Medical drawings and images of Maiden Lane residents’ disconnected limbs signify something missing – something missing in society relating to inequality and social-economic trauma, represented through bodily trauma.

Illustrations of tensed, spasmodic muscles suggests that the animated bodies (that society and politics might want to disappear) become visible, real and vocal. This idea is apparent in the images of disconnected hands. These hands are separate and disconnected from the main body politic through trauma, but are presented as significant tools of communication. In hip hop and rap hands become gestural instruments and, as presented in Tensed Muscles, capable of vocalising through sign language by shaping an alphabet.

Klenz’s complex abstract collages of archive images, photograms of the buildings, yardsticks measuring the body parts of local residents, abstract images of the micro-scanners used in the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre for research and line drawings disrupt the discipline of architecture as a measured, rational and ordered space; interrupting this with human agency, interaction and the realities of life on a London estate.

In the Spring of 2020 Brownsilla, Boss B and Klenz completed their collaborative music album called Tensed Muscles. Klenz also worked with the London-based company Arcade to translated her works into a piece of Augmented reality available via a free app.