Two years ago 7.6% of all houses in Liverpool stood empty. Of those, 13,284 had been vacant for at least six months. Often boarded up, the functional lives of these homes are temporarily, or permanently, suspended. 123,000 properties in Merseyside have now been selected for modernisation or demolition in an aim to increase the diversity of available housing and, consequently, that of potential investors. In parallel with improvements to the city’s commercial districts, these interventions bring the promise of a better tomorrow for Liverpool, its residents and workers.
Incorporating footage of housing throughout Merseyside, Yang’s film opens a new chapter in the ongoing story of a prospective utopia facilitated by urban design. Yet it is a chapter with no middle and no end, for the film exists as a never-ending sequence of beginnings – promises of what could be. The camera scans terraced streets, apartments and gated communities like the opening frames of soap operas repeated again and again. A blue screen flashes between each shot – a space to project our own wishful scene. Yang’s narration, based in-part on the return of his parents to China after he moved as a child to Vienna, transforms the film into an allegory of universal aspiration and promise.