Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces

The MoRUS was completely unexpected. Last February I saw the space these squatter museum-makers had to work with. It seemed like a broom closet or a large bathroom. But their landlords, the legalized housing co-op known as C Squat, finally ponied up their entire common space. On opening day, the MoRUS had a storefront, a basement, and a two-story high performance area which was used in the past for squatter punk music shows. They survived a fund drive to a poor community and NYC's most devastating storm in memory – the place was totally flooded – to open with a new-fashioned LES flair. Local businesses pitched in a steady stream of food platters – Barnyard, the locavor food place nearby, and sweets from the 4th Street Food Co-op (not a commercial business, but hey). You could tell times had changed deciseively from when those LES squats fought the law, because the food did not instantly evaporate to the hungry crowd. Left they may be, but this crowd is now well-fed.
So many things have changed since the times this museum commemorates. The East Villager community newspaper reported that a landlord notorious for evicting all his tenants so he could live in their building is a frequent visitor to the museum. He has integrated into the neighborhood quite well. And why not? The rents on the LES are some of the highest in the city. It is now a rich person's district, like it or lump it. Instead of diverse ethnic poor, immigrants from often hostile countries living together, it is now radically different income and class strata which must mix.
I was in town for the opening, but I almost didn't make it. In a very East Villagey sort of way, I had spent the night before drinking with Michael Carter at the 11th Street bar. Michael is an old friend, living in a formerly squatted building. Back in the day, he edited Redtape magazine and used a Basquiat painting as a bedsheet. The bar is a great old Irish family joint. Near the bar in front hangs a stone carved by sculptor Ken Hiratsuka, a stalwart of the late Rivington School which occupied numerous vacant lots with their assemblages. Ken's stone commemorates the Chico Mendez Mural Garden which once stood opposite the bar. (Michael's story about Ken's stone and a picture of it appears in House Magic #4.)
I spent the next morning in Brooklyn talking with my host Marc Miller, who a few years ago posted most of the ABC No Rio book we edited together in '85 online. Suddenly it was too late to get to the museum opening on time. Even so, I had incredible good luck with the subway trains, which are notoriously unreliable on weekends. The train in Manhattan was packed with weekend people going places. A homeless guy was stretched out on the bench, taking up four places. No one bothered him. In other parts of the city they would wake him and make him get up. Not in genteel Manhattan. At last he awoke and started to shout and howl. It was a good reminder of what things in NYC used to be like.
Finally, I only missed the opening remarks by Councilwoman Rosie Méndez. For three hours I roamed amongst the jolly crowds in the big storefront, down the twisty stairs to the basement (coat check and bar), then into the grand two-story theater-like space. Much of the floor is painted with designs commemorating the LES squatting movement, as are the walls. Displays are well organized into different sections – squatter tech (videos and cel phones), community gardens, the Critical Mass bicycle wars – and enlivened by photos contributed by people in the community. The museum is staffed by young enthusiastic volunteers.
I know a lot of these folks. Marlis Momber, the longtime Loisaida photograher and veteran of the '70s drug wars was photographing on the scene. Jeff Wright showed up, a poet and ex-publisher of Cover magazine ( my former client; I typeset it for years). While Jeff was not acttve in the squats, he has been a strong advocate for the community gardens, a vital part of this museum. I talked with Ben Shepard, the activist, writer and teacher. While Ben was talking to me, he was scheduled to be making an audience presentation downstairs, so clearly the schedule was kind of loose. I saw the venerable Adam Purple, whose amazing garden was destroyed in 1986, a victim of an early push by Rudolph Giuliani to eliminate the Lower East Side counterculture. Adam talked only occasionally, doing inserts and glosses on a prerecorded talk about the garden.
I chatted with Frank Morales after his rousing short talk. He's working now with Picture the Homeless and Organizing for Occupation (O4O), bringing the squatter movement politics into the present day crisis.
Seth Tobocman, artist and author of the epochal graphic work War in the Neighborhood gave his talk accompanied by jazz musicians. Fly Orr also talked. She's the original zine-making, “cement-mixing squatter bitch” (the title of one of her zines). Fly contributed a lot of material to the “Squatter Rights Archive” at the Tamiment Library of labor history at NYU. The late Michael Nash mentored the group of LES activists like Matt Metzgar who worked on this project. MoRUS is the final result of a long series of moves by LES squatters to preserve their histories and disseminate their stories.
The MoRUS opening was full of fun characters. I talked quite a while with Paul Garrin, a computer programmer, ex-video artist, who has a company delivering wireless internet service on the Lower East Side. Garrin chucked a fast track media arts career to become a free information activist. He's also very much a business man, with little patience for left political people. Lisa Kahane was there, taking pictures of course. She was the chief photographer for the innovative '80s art venue Fashion Moda, and an important documenter of many activist art actions.
I had planned to interview the peripatetic Peter Missing, whose band Missing Foundation terrorized the bourgeoisie moving into the LES during the '80s and '90s. Squatter researcher Amy Starcheski was going to sit in. But it just wasn't an interview kind of day. Since those days, Missing has spent years in the German squat scene, and was among the last artists evicted from the famed Berlin squat Tacheles. I talked to Andre, the French-born squatter who supported the House Magic project when it first opened at ABC No Rio. I also sat with Sarah Ferguson, who wrote the best text on the Tompkins Square Park riot of 1988, published in Clayton Patterson's book Resistance. She's now very active with the community gardens movement. She told me how she had salvaged copies of the 1985 ABC No Rio catalogue from a hurricane-flooded basement and dried them out in a microwave. As formerly rare books they're worthless, but she wanted people to be able to still read them.
Later in the afternoon, the event got crowded as students involved in the demonstrations against tuition at the Cooper Union came pouring in. I didn't stay for the dancing. Sill I saw many other friends and had many other fun chats. Finally Michael Carter showed up. A few people who didn't surprised me. Clayton Patterson didn't show, but he has issues with many squatters. Andrew Castrucci of Bullet Space, and Steven Englander, director of ABC No Rio and a squatter deeply involved with this movement did not come. That was surprising, given Steven's deep involvement with the movement. He sort of dances around his positions on the issue in a recent interview with Whitney Kimball, yet he does talk extensively about squatting. His thumbnail account of how the squatters of LES got their buildings is succinct:
“Because the city had a policy of not negotiating directly with squatters, a non-profit community development corporation called the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board sort of mediated it. The properties were turned over to UHAB, and UHAB, working with the squatters, did the required renovations to get them up to code. Then they were converted into low-income limited equity co-ops. The official name is a housing development fund corporation. There are income restrictions on who can live in the buildings, and there are resale restrictions on what people can sell the units for. So we can’t sell apartments at market rate. In my building sale is restricted to families at or below one hundred percent of the area median income. So the sale price is set at being affordable for somebody who is right in the middle of median in this census tract, assuming someone spends about a third of their income on housing. Once the renovations were completed the former squatters became shareholders in their building and self-manage them.”
Ben Shepard blogged the event fast and well, putting it in the context of other talks and events he'd attended this month. He stuck in a long account from his recent book, describing the notorious insect release which disrupted a city auction of community garden properties during the Giuliani years.
Later that week, I woke up in Queens, and took the subway into the city to recover my bike, parked at Lafayette and Bleecker. On the way to the East Village, I stopped off in the onetime Yippie! Café, where there was an installation of some 30 odd documents from the Yippie archives. This long-time venue of the counterculture movement linked to the late legendary activist Abbie Hoffman has reconstituted itself as a museum of resistance. I recall the place from when I used to live around there in the 1970s. It was the last citadel of hippie culture in New York City, the brain center of the marijuana smoke-ins. Always littered with young hitchhiking backpackers with rainbow-colored t-shirts, the place hosted music concerts and informal cultural events, in the Bleecker street storefront and the larger city-owned space they had use of around the corner. At that time, the age difference – and the thick fog of reefer smoke – did not make me a regular of the place. But I recognized their mission, and helped out a little from time to time on their newspaper(s), Yipster Times and Overthrow. (I was working as a typesetter.) The pater familias of the Yippie family is Dana Beal, a hard-bitten longhair and drug treatment activist who is currently serving time in a Wisconsin jail for pot possession. After decades of operating more or less openly as a pot-smoking countercultural hippie leader, it is simply sad that the law finally caught up with Beal. Especially since now the laws seem to be changing – if not nationally, then at least in a couple of western states.
For me, this trip to NYC has been a lot about recalling those old sites of – well, I can’t even call it a flourishing counterculture in lower Manhattan, but the remnants of a once almost general culture, a libertarian anything-goes culture which grew up amidst a brutal colonial war in Vietnam, and continued after the fall of Nixon. The end came with the ascension of Reagan and Bush. It is odd that under Mayor Bloomberg, who has done all he could to hyper-gentrify the city and make it like Singapore, there should be this resurgence of a memory of resistance. Maybe Occupy Wall Street put it back on the table.
Michael McKenzie is running the Yippie! Museum, “the museum of dissent.” He told me some of the OWS “kids” were meeting there, and read the Yippie manifesto. One young man said in amazement, “This has all happened before!” Meaning the arising of a U.S. movement aimed at liberation and against capitalism. Yes indeed, indeed it did. And there’s a lot of interest in the course of it.
McKenzie said that people had been bringing things over to add to the Yippie museum, old folks who’d been active in the ‘60s slipping envelopes through the door and delivering shopping bags full of stuff. They also have a large uninventoried collection of videotapes documenting all sorts of Yippie-ish activities over the years, including Beal’s own long running campaign for the plant-derived drug ibogaine as a cure for heroin addiction.
Finally, the opening of the MoRUS is very promising. I look forward as always to some sort of connection between the U.S. and European movements. The links exist, but the consciousness of squatters is always very local. Connecting with the long-lived deepset movements in Europe is only the first step. Linking with the Global South is the next.

Poster image by Eric Drooker
Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces

EV Grieve blog
(includes a lively comment section about the alleged sexism of Drooker's image above)

“Squatters museum opens with chain-cutting celebration”; photos by Lincoln Anderson

“Landlord who ‘reclaimed’ building a ‘big fan’ of new museum,” by Lincoln Anderson

Chico Mendez Mural Garden

The ABC No Rio Interviews: Steven Englander

“From the Tenement Museum to Bluestockings, MoRUS and the Lower East Side's Radical History,” from Ben Shepard's blog Play and Ideas,

“Art of Activism” through February 9, 2013 at Yippie! Museum Café

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Squat + Art

The “art part” of the House Magic zine is the most difficult part to assemble. So many creative people are turning political, there is an extraordinary wealth of materials to choose from. The case study in this issue focusses on the former “art squat” – a classic of the genre – in the ritzy London district of Mayfair in 2008. The “Da collective” did their work with and for artists, which sets them apart from the more recent movement-connected Bank of Ideas occupation, for example. Even so, the Mayfair squat was more traditional. The politicized international artworld – the substantial subset of institutionally supported artists who work in the social sphere – has been preoccupied with Occupy, trying to digest the implications and outcomes of the revolutionary year of 2011, and producing unuusual events in the attempt.

The Mayfair Squatters
A key recent example of a classic art squat was the 2008 action by the “Mayfair squatters.” Inspired by their experiences in Paris, this gang grabbed an empty mansion in London. It was a case of high-profile upscale squatting, the kind that can't be said to encourage gentrification, and the brazenness of it captivated the media.
Graeme Robertson set the scene, writing in The Guardian: “It is one of London's most exclusive addresses. Michelin-starred restaurants are just a block away, the US embassy is around the corner and Hyde Park is at the end of the road. To share the same postcode ought to cost millions. But the new residents of 18 Upper Grosvenor Street, a raggle-taggle of teenagers and artists called the Da! collective, haven't paid a penny for their £6.25m, six-storey townhouse in Mayfair.” Robertson also details the ownership of the building, one “Deltaland Resources Ltd, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.”
The Da! collective named themselves after a sign on the storefront window. They further cemented their media credentials by hosting the kind of fabulous dissolute parties that are a mythical part of the London city image. The Ravish London blog covered the project as “the realisation of an artistic vision, in the creation of a small piece of London Art history.”
Sometime later, after their eviction, the leaders of the squat talked to Tallulah Berry of Libertine Magazine.
In this talk, they say they had met at, and been inspired by “Chez Robert” – that is the 59 Rivoli squat in Paris, squatted ca. 2000, and legalized today as studio space.
That history is told at:

Showing Occupy
Next, “House Magic” takes a look at the “Occupy Bay Area” exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco over the summer of '12. The show included not only posters and photographs from Occupy SF and Oakland, but creative work for earlier political struggles, including the Black Panther Party, the International Hotel in Manilatown (1968–77); the ARC/AIDS Vigil at City Hall (1985–95); the Occupation of Alcatraz (1969–71); the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley (1964–65); and the San Francisco State University protests to gain programs in ethnic studies (1968–69).

Occupy Meetings
There have been two prominent efforts this year to integrate elements of the global Occupy movements and art institutions. The Berlin Biennale’s 7th edition in the spring, and “Truth Is Concrete,” this year's version of the Steirischer Herbst in Graz, Austria, both took on the challenge of displaying (in the first case) and hosting (in the second) key movement participants. The Graz conference, “Truth Is Concrete,” was partially streamed, and now is archived. That event was much better funded than the Occupy part of BB7, and differently conceived. From all accounts, BB7 was a collision of activist and artistic cultures. TIC attempted a synthesis, but it was curated, a congress of invitees with an audience.

Berlin Biennale, Spring 2012
The 7th edition of the Berlin Biennale took place from April 27 to July 1 of 2012. This large exhibition engaged numerous specific political themes directly. It was curated by Polish political artist Artur Żmijewski together with Joanna Warsza and the Voina art collective of St. Petersburg as associate curators. (The Voina group, named from the Russian Война, or War, included Pussy Riot members, and is known for confrontational street actions.)
Artists' works in the BB7 had titles like “how would you like to die?,” “Germany gets rid of it,” and “Happy New Fear,” and projects like a giant “key of return” sculpture and a passport for Palestine, a “Club of Political Critique” in Kiev and Berlin, a “Self #Governing” newspaper for Belarus, a report on German arms trading and the Mexican drug wars, an “alternative parliament” for organizations labelled terrorist, and a program of solidarity actions between BB7 and other art institutions.
Among these were events in Rome produced by the Swiss Institute with activists from the LUM (Libera Università Metropolitana), which sprang up in the ESC occupation in Rome (including Claudia Bernardi, whose interview on this subject is included in this issue of “House Magic”). They wrote: “we found commonalities between the political collective ESC – Autonomous Atelier in Rome and the Polish group Krytyka Polityczna. We are supporting collaborative actions between them and Swiss political activists, especially those involved in the Occupy movement, as part of our 'Solidarity Action'.” This event may have been the most direct contact with an occupied social center and a cultural institution during this phase of art activity. (Jeudi Noir was invited and featured in Graz as well.) Another solidarity project was “Rebranding European Muslims,” produced by an Israel-based group at the Steirischer Herbst – (that's “Styrian Autumn,” Styria being southern Austria, formerly part of Slovenia) – which event is considered below.

BB7 Projects

The Berlin Biennale 7 generated a raft of texts including a newspaper and a book. The show was most notable for giving over the largest exhibition space to activists from the 15M movement in Spain and Occupy Wall Street in the U.S. (mostly New York City). “House Magic” reprints some of the online texts, including the joint declaration of the “Indignadxs|Occupy” at the start of the BB7, parts of letters from Spanish, German and U.S. activists, and, finally, a set of instructions of “How to Build Up Horizontality.” These address a central concern of BB7 curator Artur Żmijewski. Because of the conflict and discontent in the cultural community around the development of Berlin, Żmijewski wanted the BB7 to be the place to draft “a new social contract” between artists, art workers, and politicians.

Website of the Indignadxs|Occupy project in Berlin

The occupybiennale blog on the official BB7 website

The BB7 represented some serious political initiatives within the artworld. Nevertheless, the critical reception by the art press and many other artists was unsympathetic. A review published on the blog of Afterall, a joint publication of the Cal Arts (Los Angeles) and Goldsmiths (London) art schools, was a partial defense. Even so, the writer called curator Żmijewski's open call for proposals a “lame and populist tactic.” The Indignadxs|Occupy encampment was void of “political force,” since they were “sanctioned” in a gallery and taking public money. Żmijewski also sinned by including his own work in the show, indeed of making the show into his own “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total artwork). Visitors were annoyed at having to interact with people on the site – at “the unavailability of a well-oiled viewing machine.” She reflects on the ultra-ironic artistic strategies derived from Laibach – “which takes the system more seriously than it takes itself.” Finally, though, this reviewer realizes that with “the invitation to the Occupy Movement and the Indignados, with their artful resistance to appearing decisive or united, to take up residence” in the BB7 is part of a biennial that “leaves much room for working out what else art can do today” besides offer itself within a viewing machine.

Monika Szewczyk, “Courage, Comrades: The 7th Berlin Biennial”

“Truth Is Concrete,” this year's Steirischer Herbst, in Graz, Austria, September 2012
The art annual Steirischer Herbst produced a “24/7 marathon camp” called “Truth Is Concrete” for one week in late September. Around 200 artists, activists, and theorists were invited to “lecture, perform, play, produce, discuss, and collect artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. All day long, all night long. It is a platform, a toolbox, as well as a performative statement—an extreme effort at a time that needs some extreme efforts.” “Truth Is Concrete” was styled like a camp, after Tahrir Square or Occupy Wall Street.
What made BB7 interesting was the clash of cultures between the artworld and the democratic social movements, and the efforts of grassroots internal reform of an artworld system fatally entrained to the fast-moving invisible flows of global capital. The conference in Graz was more interesting in terms of content. The panel descriptions and the archived Livestreams are fascinating. But, in a sense, it was more normal. It was a conference, an expanded seminar with a novel form imitative of a protest camp or squatter convergence.
Gavin Grindon reported on the convergence – “not an exhibition but a cultural festival” – in his blog post “Protest Camps and White Cubes” at While the producers made a live-in camp, they invited and subsidized the participants, which is different from “groups willfully collaborating for their own strategic reasons.” Grindon criticized the frustration born of days of lecture presentations with inadequate time to discuss. The Graz TIC meetings seemed to borrow from, and expand upon, the format of Creative Time's Summit series, an annual large-audience event with international presenters giving brief talks. The records of both of these events – the “Truth Is Concrete” conference and the Creative Time Summit – offer a great resource for understanding the strong current of social and political work by artists today.
At this point, “House Magic” #5 is bulging, and it's not clear how much of this can go into the print edition. (There's more, besides, especially architecture...) Nor have I sifted the online conference materials thoroughly for squat-related, building occupation content. (Then there's the books!) It's a symptom of just how big this whole thing is getting. While it's hard to report, I'm happy to see it's far and away out of control.

Gavin Grindon, “Protest Camps and White Cubes” at: 012/09/28/793/
( is an excellent blog, coordinated by Anna Feigenbaum, which revolves around the camp formation, not only recently but in the past; there is, for example, a recent consideration of attacks on the Greenham Common women's peace camp in UK during the 1980s.)

“Truth Is Concrete,” the Steirischer Herbst cultural festival, September 21-28, 2012 in Graz, Austria.
Texts, commentary, and Livestreams of many of the talks – the tactic talks, particularly – are archived at:

The Creative Time Summit is a conference “exploring the intersection of art-making and social justice,” a forum for “for the expanding global network of people who believe in the power of artists to make real social change.” Presentations at the four summits – “Confronting Inequity,” 2012; “Living as Form,” 2011; “Revolutions in Public Practice 2,” 2010; and “Revolutions in Public Practice 1,” 2009 – are online at:

PHOTO: Occupy Berlin in the Kunst Werke, Berlin Biennial, 2012. Photograph: © Marcin Kalinski. Courtesy Occupy and Berlin Biennial. Clipped from

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let's Have a Party

Popular festivals – a preview of content from the forthcoming “House Magic” journal #5.

Big, popular short-term cultural events – festivals – have long been a principal cultural product of the 1970s occcupations. Call it convergence, rendezvous, or festival, these periodic celebrations play key roles in the life of land occupiers, reigniting the excitement and affirming the solidarities of the initial occupation, and the camaraderie of encampment. (See the story of the Amsterdam Balloon Factory of the Dutch free community of Ruigoord in House Magic #4, “Aja Waalwijk on TAZ.”)
The nomadic festivals of the Rainbow Family in the U.S. began in 1968 with a “be-in” in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The “gatherings” continue to this day on U.S. government park land, a demotic shadow of the upscale Burning Man festivals in the Nevada desert. Governments in the U.S. have never stopped trying to put the lid on these festivals, however.
Michael Niman, author of “People of the Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia,” maintains a website of numerous documents relating to the group's struggles with government agencies managing the lands they encamp
Ryan Neeley, “The Government's Secret War on Music Festivals” details the trials of Jimmy Tebeau, musician in a Grateful Dead tribute band called The Schwag, who has held numerous festivals on his privately owned land; ownership does not protect these festivals from government harassment
The 1970s counterculture festival tradition continiues in the periodic events organized by urban “art squatters” in Europe. A number of them were held this year.

A Flop, with Beatings
In July, an Intersquat Festival was called for late July in Fribourg, Switzerland by a coalition of Swiss groups. The organizers, however, did not hide under cover of culture, but brandished their militancy. They chose to attempt a major occupation as the opening of the festival. Not surprisingly, it was violently suppressed. There were 52 arrests, accompanied by police “batoning anything that moved, including passers-by and people already on the ground, arresting people in cars and trains, in cafes, shopping” – arrestees were swabbed for DNA. It became an exhibition of police violence and a celebration of activist masochism.
call-out for the Fribourg Intersquat Festival
event report of the brutal repression

Cops join the party during a demonstration of students in Torino, Italy // from World Riots (students' faces are blurred in the photo, not masked)

Emigration, Secession, Mass Shovel-In
Festival lies behind the recent strategies of the Dutch Damoclash group, working with the cultural squatters of Schijnheilig. They use the form to make very specific political points. In August of 2011, 50 Dutch artists and activists traveled from Amsterdam to Prishtina, Kosovo. “The Dutch budget cuts and severe police brutality towards squatters and cultural activists in The Netherlands is pushing artists into exile. Therefore we're seeking asylum in Kosovo.” In July they opened a temporary embassy of the “new Damoclash free state” in the Vondelpark of Amsterdam to prepare the trip.
In September of 2012, the Dutch squatters staged Damoclash, a one-day festival. “Damoclash is a recurring free and chaotic, culturally and non-commercial festival that merges protest art, politics and debate into a fun event.” The target of the temporary occupation was a patch of unbuilt land at Oostpoort, Amsterdam, where a publicly funded development was planned, the kind of mega-project they see as “very risky.”
Under the theme of “Gentrify It Yourself!,” they called people to “Take a shovel in hand, come to Damoclash and become one of our Cultural Partners (OCP). Show that you want to help build the city of Amsterdam. Come in your builders clothing, safety helmet, lights, battery drill.”
Who are the Damoclash?
Damoclash: 2011 trip to Kosovo
Damoclash call-out for 2012

Charter of Occupation
Festival was also themed politically for three days this September with the Festiv' Aligre, produced by the “Free Commune of Aligre” in Paris. This sudden government was declared by the organizers after local officials denied them a license. The demand was familiar – public participation in the planning decisions that would affect the community. But this faux government first declared themselves “guardians of public disorder” for a period of festival, evoking the oldest traditions of European carnival. Street food, music concerts (all types), story-telling, dance (“garbage ballet”), cycling activities by the collective Vélorution – all are artfully described and intermingled with discussions on “this famous question, how to occupy public space.” These discussions were purposive: to frame a “charter” on how to manifest public space to be “hailed” as the school year starts. Naturally, the project is supported by numerous collectives, the town hall, city and state cultural ministries, and, significantly, the Fondation Abbé Pierre, named for the renowned French squatter priest, and local tenants' groups.
Festiv' Aligre
Abbé Pierre
Next: Classic Art Squats

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

“House Magic” #5 Is on the Front Burner...

image by Eric Drooker
This blog is part of the “House Magic” research and information project on the culture of squats and occupations. The fifth number of the journal is now in preparation. It will include texts proudly pirated from around the worldwide web. Most of them, produced during these last two revolutionary years, must be edited for a limited paper space. As part of the editorial process, I'm putting up some of these texts now as links for readers of this blog to see. Analytic comments and glosses as well as personal experiences and viewpoints are welcomed. (Had I the skills and time, the whole thing would be available online in an expanded version; in the meantime, this is how it goes.)
The SqEK Group NYC Conference Proceedings
SqEK – Squatting Europe Kollective conference in New York City: Academic Papers February of 2012 saw a SqEK conference coinciding with the AAG meeting. A day of academic sessions took place at the Hilton Hotel – all the abstracts of the papers are posted at:
“Squatting in Europe Now”
A public talk at the Living Theatre, NYC. A nearly complete transcript is posted at:
Many of the talks were recorded and mounted to YouTube by Sebastian Gutierrez. There are four; the first is “SQEK I -- Squatting Europe Collective.” They include brief descriptions of the situation with squatting in the Netherlands, Italy, France, United Kingdom, and Spain.
“The Necessary Squats,” by Miguel Martinez
Miguel of SqEK wrote this account of the eviction of CSOA Casablanca in Madrid in September of 2012. He was closely involved in that collective.
“The Sabotaj Story”
Story of the 2011 squat of a vacant supermarket in Brighton, protesting the supercession of a family-owned business by a chain store.
String of Evictions of Madrid Social Centers
Short reports – La Salamanquesa in Salamanca barrio, in May of '12; La Osera in Usera, and La Cantera in Vicálvaro in July.
La Salamanquesa –
La Osera –
La Cantera –
“Creative Destruction,” by Jens Balzer
New York Times blogger argues that the final eviction of Tacheles in Berlin is a “normal” part of gentrification. Now young people must get together and buy properties.
“Contaminating the University, Creating Autonomous Knowledge: Occupied Social and Cultural Centers in Italy,” an interview with Claudia Bernardi
Bernardi discusses ESC, the Rome social center as an “occupied atelier for self-education.” She also talks about the relationship the extra-legal project has with the university, and ESC's work with immigrant communities. The recent theater occupations she says come from the idea of culture as a common good.
The Victor Martinez Community Library, Oakland, California
Abandoned library brought back to life.
“Spain: The Big Squat,” by Ter Garcia
This March 2012 roundup of squatting in Madrid focuses on the relationship between the 15M movement, the neighborhood assemblies, and the banks.
“Real change needs massive support. Art affects only a minority” – An interview with Jeudi Noir
This December 2011 interview concentrates on the tactics and aesthetic techniques that the Paris-based housing group uses in their occupations. Includes a timeline. By curatorial consultant Anne Faucheret for Steirischer Herbst arts festival.
“Notorious Possession: Occupying Foreclosed Homes With Art” by Robby Herbst
A September 2012 story about artist Olga Koumoundouros, and the foreclosed house she occupied in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles, California. Discusses her engagement, techniques, and the neighborhood groups she worked with.
“Call for ‘No Borders’ – Borders Exist to Exclude,” by Sutapa Chattopadhyay
An extensive article by SqEK member, based on her interviews with Bangladeshi immigrants at the CSOA Casablanca in Madrid.
“Non vengo dalla luna: Short Report of a Political-Theater Experiment,” by Carla Vitantonio Account of a 2010 tour of Italian social centers by two theater artists.
SqEK member Mujinga produced #7 of "Using Space" in August of 2012, a zine about squats, social centres and alternative ways of living. It includes an update on the criminalisation of squatting in England and Wales, and excellent memoirs with lessons learned by squatters in London and Seattle.
28 pages including cover; formatted for double-sided printing
“Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles,” edited by the Squatting Europe Kollective
forthcoming from Autonomedia in 2012
Table of Contents is at –

Next, Art and More...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good Night, Casablanca

The social center Casablanca was evicted this week from an abandoned luxury apartment building in central Madrid. It is only the latest squat to be cleared in Madrid, as the rightwing government has gone on an eviction spree to wipe out the logistical organizing bases of the 15M movement throughout the city.
Organize for Occupation in New York has called for a peaceful protest at the Spanish Consulate on Tuesday, September 25th at Noon, 150 East 58th St (Between Third and Lexington Avenues).

Yesterday morning, Wednesday 19 September 2012, the self-organized occupied social center Casablanca in central Madrid was evicted by state police. Large demonstrations have been held to protest this sudden police action against an important center of activity for the 15M (15th of May) movement in Spain. Even now, the 10,000 volume library of the BiblioSol, the relocated library of the Puerta del Sol encampment of the 15M movement, is held hostage inside the closed-up building.
Miguel Martinez* writes: “It has been a very strange eviction because our legal case was won by us many months ago and the owner had no chance to claim the property again. We did not receive any notice about the new demand, except a brief note in June to which we replied. It was illegal not to be notified in advance of the eviction. We suspect that there are political motivations behind this fast eviction. There is a call to surround the Parliament on September 25 [and call for a new Constitution], and one of the groups organising for this action was holding their meetings at Casablanca. In the past few days, some people have been arrested and identified by the police due to their participation in this forthcoming action. We feel really sad because Casablanca had become the main venue for alternative politics and culture in the inner centre of Madrid. Today some text books for primary and secondary school were going to be exchanged and freely distributed among people who need them. And thousands of books and materials from the Sol Camp are now shut up in this now-fortified building.”
(See Miguel's longer text (in Englsh) on this event at:
READ: The Diagonal online journal piece about the eviction (in Spanish)
for reports in Spanish, follow on Twitter:
see "CSO Casablanca cerrado por razones políticas: 25S"
(Casablanca closed for political reasons: 25S [25th of September action]” (in Spanish)
3-minutes – Images of the eviction and street full of demonstrators.
"C.S.O.A. Casablanca se queda, no al desalojo!"
(C.S.O.A. Casablanca remains, no eviction!)
(in Spanish)
This 4-minute video shows images from the succession of social centers established and evicted by the assembly of Casablanca, culminating in early images of Casablanca.
Address letters of protest to:
Cónsul General, D. Juan Ramón Martínez Salazar.
Consulate of Spain
150 East 58th St., 30th floor.- New York, N.Y. 10155
Communique from the Casablanca Assembly immediately after the eviction Wednesday September 19, 2012
Today, at 7 am, the police have forcibly evicted without notice the squatted and self-managed social center Casablanca, situated at calle Santa Isabel 21-23, in Madrid, Spain. This was a totally illegal eviction. A magistrate's court and the Provincial Court of Madrid firm filed the criminal case started building ownership. It is illegal to reopen the case, and it is illegal we have not been notified of the decision to evict.
In two and a half years, Casablanca has been a meeting place open to everyone in the Lavapies neighborhood and city, as well as creation and development of social and political consciousness. Working and creating a safe space and a benchmark of solidarity, mutual support, self-management, horizontality, autonomy, and asamblearismo care. The community center has been built from the conviction that another world is possible, rejecting the capitalist system and corrupt patriarchy.
In CSOA collaborate over 30 collective, developing projects related to: Creating and critical thinking: Casablanca has served as a meeting place for various groups working and popular neighborhood assemblies and student movements, through countless lectures, learning journeys, empowerment and social criticism.
Education: a project for living free and learning with children two to six years ("Tartaruga"), a cooperative project between parents for the care of infants under one year ("Common House"), a Spanish teaching project for migrants ("the library"), reading workshops, a management project loan of more than 10,000 books donated during the camp popularly Sol and exchange of textbooks, in which more than 200 people involved in situations of need every Wednesday ("BiblioSol"), the physical file Sol …
The self, as an alternative to the model of consumption: a sewing, construction, bicycle repair, silkscreen printing, photography, computer …
Art, culture and personal health: theater workshops ("Timbuktu", "Impro theater"), dance ("Dance Lab"), yoga, queer culture ("Queer Tango Workshop"), swing, hip-hop, film (Casablanca Cinema) …
Social development: a project of support among people living with HIV ("HIV Madrid Critique"), a legal aid office to migrant groups, women's groups, the Office of Okupación Madrid, theater group ("Dystopia" ) …
Alternatives to consumer model: free store, consumer groups ("Tomarte Rojo", "BAH"), urban gardening, vegan dining, bike shop … It would be impossible to name all the people and groups who have been here for two years.
All this took place in a closed building, owned by the builder Monteverde SL, bought what was to become a college luxury homes. But came the bursting of the housing bubble and the crisis and were unable to continue speculating with it, the building being closed for more than three years. This company processes involved in corruption (Operation Malaya II), is part of the real culprits of the current political-economic context. Therefore, the proposed Casablanca has the legitimacy that they lack.
The political line of Casablanca, which has been developed for years in the occupied centers of La Escoba (the Broom; 2006), La Alarma (the Alarm; 2007), Malaya (2008) and La Mácula (2009), has become and remains a project of political struggle. This line has always believed and worked on the development and articulation of networks outside the mercantilist system. We believe in collective work as a means of achieving self-management of our lives and mutual support. We support the model of cooperation as an alternative to the model of competition and we continue to fight.
We realize that this eviction was not casual. It is the product of a process of growing repression of movement places arising from fear, and is closely related to recent calls for civil disobedience to demand the recovery of popular sovereignty. In this context, the eviction of Casablanca is now part of the strategy with which the elites of economic and political power face a new stage of social mobilization. Those of us who want to build a different reality have moved from a position of strength to a direct confrontation on September 25th, which will be a turning point. If you've come here because we have spent many months working, sharing, knowing, fighting, we are no longer fragmented people and groups. So this social center has been one of the areas where this has taken place, but the eviction is not the end of what has grown up here.
Another eviction, another squat.
Casablanca CSOA Assembly
/////////////////////// STATEMENT OF SUPPORT by Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid (FRAVM)
The FRAVM rejects the eviction of Social Center Casablanca
The Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid (FRAVM) rejects the social center eviction Casablanca occurred this morning and regrets that, with it, the building will be empty to become fodder for speculation as it closes its doors one of the few social spaces open participation of grassroots collectives.
Around 7 in the morning of 19 September 2012, several National Police agents have entered the social center Casablanca, located at number 23 Calle Santa Isabel, to evict. They put so well, by order of the magistrate court number 38 of Madrid and at the request of the owner of the building, more than two years of intense activity.
The building, abandoned for years, was occupied by a group of youths in April 2010. Since then, the community center has hosted numerous cultural, educational, social, political, educational ... Such as workshops to fix bicycles, employment, theater, concerts, screenings, presentations fanzines ... A self-managed program for some of the many groups that make up the active social network of Madrid and the result is richer than that offered many cultural centers run by the government and supported by public money.
At the time of eviction, the social hub Casablanca housed over 10,000 volumes Bibliosol, a library built collaboratively by people who give life to 15M, theatrical equipment ... The eviction today, added to that occurred in the past Usera July (The Osera Usera) and those before them back to emptying a building that will fall into utter neglect for the sole purpose of become pasture land speculation.
The Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid (FRAVM) demands respect to self-management projects promoted by collective basis in order to build meeting spaces open to the participation of all citizens while contributing to the creation of a living social fabric , democratic, independent and transformer.
/////////////////////////// * Miguel Ángel Martínez teaches in the Department of Sociology II, Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology, University Complutense of Madrid – his blog:
This text by him connects the 15M and squatting movements in Madrid: He has just written this entry on the Casablanca situation (in Spanish) – He is a member of the SqEK research collective: Squatting Europe Kollective --, and
Details about Monteverde Grupo Inmobiliario S.L., the real estate group that owns the building, (in Spanish) are at:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Voyage to the Black Rose

[I am busy moving this summer, so I reblog Ernie Larsen's recent great email. Ernie is a filmmaker who has been showing his work in Greek social centers for some while. This text describes his voyage to the beloved OSC Rosa Nera. Lots of cool photos, but, as he didn't post it, only emailed it, I can't link to them.]
All but two of the dozens of flat-screen TVs on the many upper decks of the giant ferry E. Venizelos (now en route from Piraeus to Chania) were tuned to the faceoff of the Eurocup football match between Greece and Germany. The three of us, including Nikos, had taken refuge on Deck 8 in seats several yards away from those last two hold-out TVs, thinking ourselves remote if not safe from a few hours of nationalist uproar. Nikos said, with a smile, that it might be better for the Greeks if the Greek team lost--as was expected-- so long as it wasn’t totally thrashed. Either way we were pleased to be insulated from the spectacle about to commence—but no, we were mistaken: a ferry employee in nautical uniform appeared as if on cue to change the channel on both regrettably, the TV-enhanced color of the football fan's jacket is lost here.
Seconds later, the TV camera’s attention switched from the digitally-enhanced natural green of the football pitch to alight on the irradiated vomit-green of Angela Merkel’s jacket in the immense stadium in Kiev. The impresario of austerity had traveled all that way to cheer on still another dimension of humiliation to be sternly administered the Greeks by an ace squad of her loyal subjects. Since football is a game with precise rules how could the supposedly rule-flouting Greeks ever expect to triumph?
Nikos and I climbed up to the open-air pool deck. The pool was empty, a net thrown over it, to dissuade the foolhardy , the inattentive, and the suicidal. The only brand of beer available at the bar was Mythos. An inconsequential detail that in my present state of exhaustion I found dimly resonant—a gulp of mythic spirit(s) while afloat on the Aegean—or something. A group of Athenian anti-authoritarians soon turned up. They stayed up all night. Drinking and talking.
Dawn arrival at the port of Chania. Bleary-eyed, we stumble out of the maw of the E. Venizelos, dragging our bags. It’s already warm, very warm. We’d slept through our chance to see the long series of NATO installations that dot the hills along the way into the channel. Though broke, tiny Greece boasts Europe’s largest defense budget (per GDP). Having gutted wages, the government is busily taxing everything in sight and aims to privatize every resource with the exception of public outrage.
However, there’s still some spare change left for the cops in Chania to bring a drug-sniffing dog to the dock to greet the anarchists, anti-authoritarians and autonomists here to celebrate the eighth anniversary of Rosa Nera, a squatted social center regarded with a considerable reverence by many in Athens and Thessaloniki. The consensus is that this canine cop theater amounts to a warning: We know you’re here, we’ve got eyes on you, the cops are saying. But the German shepherd, as a well-trained fragrance connoisseur, could care less about cops having eyes on anarchists. His discriminating nostrils are excited by the baggage of a hiker. The dog is so proud of himself that one cop has to restrain him from ripping into the bag that another cop is avidly searching, garment by garment. We miss the denouement: everybody piles into one of the two cars awaiting us and we are driven off to the extraordinarily picturesque old port. Rosa Nera (Black Rose) overlooks a restored Venetian lighthouse and the remains of a fortress breached by the Turks in the fifteenth century and by the Nazis in 1941. Or to be more (though not completely) accurate about the port’s history: Minoan then Greek then Roman then Byzantine then Arab then Byzantine then Venetian then Genoan then Venetian then Ottoman then briefly Cretan then Greek then Nazi then Greek. Even before parking in the private square we are told about fascist attacks on immigrants a few days earlier and an 88-day miners’ strike still going in nearby Heraklion. Two of the attacked immigrants, both Algerians, are among those staying at Rosa Nera. One sports a cast on his right forearm. Such an injury could have resulted from an accident playing football--except it didn’t.
Two nights later, following a discussion about the Heraklion strike, in which two of the striking miners participate, we screen our video, “Rock the Cradle,” in the square. (The video focuses, for the most part, on the aftermath of the December 2008 to January 2009 insurrection in Greece.)
A View from a Squat -- as seen from Rosa Nera square...
Afterwards an anniversary feast for 500 guests is spread in the square (500 real plates!) while local musicians play and sing, sing and play. We sit at one of the long tables, drinking local wine and eating lamb, risotto, and salad from plastic--rather than china--plates. How did that happen?
The only Americans in attendance, we talk for some time to an Athenian woman in her early thirties, who describes being among the half-million protesting the imposition of anti-austerity measures for five long hours in front of Parliament (“five hours, 500,000 people,” she repeats, more than once) a few months earlier--and then Parliament went right ahead and voted against the people. She speaks as if she still can’t believe what happened. “And then when the police attacked it was the anarchists that defended us,” she says. She’s been in Crete for three months now, in quiet retreat while mulling over what to do next. She’d quit her academic job. When Sherry says what an inspiration Greek resistance has been--and still is--to so many in the U.S. it isn’t clear that she believes or perhaps even quite hears what Sherry is getting at. In the present context -- in the midst of the lively communal celebration of eight years of unbending resistance going on around us—her somewhat unyielding expression of a doubt which surely everyone feels at times is disconcerting. But I wonder if there is anything more inevitable—given enough time, a stumble, a route or a rupture -- than such occasional rumbles of doubt. Late the next morning the musicians are still playing, still singing, with only slightly less energy, even though their audience has dwindled to a handful of diehards and sleepy-eyed insomniacs. The persistent tradition of folk melody, songs of work and desire that everybody knows and shares, among its many other benefits can be an effective salve for the lingering psychic scrapes doubt exacts.
A few days later, when we’re back in Thessaloniki, 34 anarchists, whose cell phones have been tapped for months, are arrested on felony charges of belonging to a criminal organization. In the past few months, fascists have attacked immigrants dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times. No arrests. Syriza had promised, if it won the election, to purge the police force of its fascist elements. It is well-known that the police are heavily involved (perhaps to the tune of 50%) in Golden Dawn, the fascist party that garnered 7% of the official vote count.
A few months ago, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg boasted: “I have my own private army,” a bloated statement reminiscent to some of the early stages of fascist consolidation of power. But of course it’s silly to imagine that this billionaire mayor, who had the law limiting the election of a mayor to two terms changed when he decided that he wanted to be Mayor-General for the third time, whose private army purged Zuccotti Park of the Occupy Movement, when, tiring of its excess, he so ordered, should be mentioned in the same breath with any of the tinpot fascists who rose to power, way back in the second and third decades of the last century. And maybe that’s correct: people here in Greece are beginning to speak of a molecular fascism, built from the ground up, which is not indebted for its increasing influence to the skillful demagoguery of a charismatic leader. And no one in their right mind ever accused Bloomberg of being charismatic.
Ernie Larsen, August 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Showing "Occupy"

Two current exhibitions address the Occupy movement, one in Austria and one in California. “Occupy Everything” and “Occupy Bay Area” take different approaches, however, based on different understandings of the movements that arose in 2011. (Caveat – this is not a review of shows I've not seen; it's a digest of PR.) The San Francisco show is diffident about the movement, and limited in its goals. Occupy has “generated both praise and condemnation”; a sensitive audience is warned that it is controversial. It is “a direct response to the financial instability, subprime mortgage crisis... [and] problems in the labor market.” Occupy Bay Area focuses on the political poster artists who message the politics and culture of the movement, supporting its goals and aspirations.
This sounds very modest and limited. Nevertheless, the Occupy Bay Area includes as well some record of the important underground history of occupation there, including the Free Speech Movement at University of California, Berkeley (1964–65); the San Francisco State University protests, to gain an Ethnic Studies program and Black Student Union demands (1968–69); the International Hotel eviction struggles in Manilatown (1968–77); the Occupation of Alcatraz by Native American Indians (1969–71); and the ARC/AIDS Vigil at City Hall (1985–95). All of these struggles used the tactic of occupation. The show disclaims any intention of being a “fully executed social history”; instead it is a testament of the power of images to evoke the emotional expression of popular and wide-spread sentiments.” Yes, well – even with the rapid back-pedaling, it sounds like a good job.
“Occupy Everything,” an exhibition organized by Oliver Ressler for “Regionale12” in St. Lambrecht, Austria, has a much shorter run, but it is conceptually more ambitious. The historical sequence of 2011 is right – “ the 'Arab Spring', the movement of the squares in Spain and Greece, and the Occupy movement starting from the USA.” (People in the U.S. somehow tend to see their Occupy as first.) Ressler is a political artist concentrated in filmmaking. He concentrates on the common character of these largely non-communicating movements – “They are regionally active, non-hierarchical movements that reject representation and use direct democracy to make decisions. Occupying central public places serves as a catalyst to form and develop political projects and working groups. Successful occupations in one place can often inspire occupations in other cities.”
The show includes an on-site documentary of Tahrir Square by Stefano Savona, “tactical and symbolic infrastructure” for NYC Occupy developed by the collective Not An Alternative, and a collection of posters from Occuprint. Finally, Ressler mounts video projections which show discussions he staged with activists from 15M in Madrid, the Syntagma Square movement in Athens, and Occupy Wall Street in New York. The video installation “re-enacts the working groups of the square movements; it deals with issues of organization, horizontal decision-making processes in the assemblies and the meaning and function of occupation of public spaces.”
These are two strong indications of the path cultural institutions are taking in explaining and supporting the Occupy movement worldwide, the first excavating a largely unknown local municipal history of occupation, and the second exploring the common political processes which have constituted this new movement.
A video about the artists --
called "Occupy Bay Area: The Artists"
Occupy Bay Area July 7-October 14, 2012
“Occupy Everything,” an exhibition organized by Oliver Ressler for “Regionale12” in St. Lambrecht, Austria, June 23 – July 22, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Legal “Good” and That Which Is Necessary

I fell into this website, “Good,” which promotes forward looking projects, sustainable city initiatives, new technology, new economy, this sort of thing. We could call it a part of the sustainability movement – it was so named in 1990. I haven't followed it, but it's what schools of design are teaching, and what artists worry about. Yes, everyone who thinks worries about the cliff our human world is rushing towards. “Good” was featuring a Madrid project. Some folks had gone into the streets of the city center and put little sun umbrellas and plastic dinosaurs over plants growing through cracks in the stone-paving to protect them. These artists observed that their project was “noticed” the next morning.
This in a nutshell sums up what is wrong with the “Good” approach. The problem in Madrid isn't too few weeds in plazas, it's too many cars. Walk around this city and you smell it. Bicycling seems suicidal. There's a group working on that problem called the Critical Mass. Next week Chris Carlsson from San Francisco is coming to Madrid, a guest of the “Bici Critica” group here. (I'll blog about that when he comes.) Chris is one of the founders of this mass bicycle ride through the excessively grand highways that pierce our modernist cities. It interferes with the sovereignty of motorized traffic. It's a viral form of direct action that's gone global. In New York City the Critical Mass led to years of nasty confrontations with police. Now, finally New York has bike lanes. Coincidence? Well, it's like Bill Di Paolo said 25 years ago, the “Time's Up” on waiting for governments to act.
Now, after the sad showings in the Bonn climate talks and Rio+20, the director of Greenpeace is also fed up. “We have to ask ourselves what history teaches us in terms of how change happens when humanity has faced a big challenge, such as civil rights, apartheid or slavery,” Kumi Naidoo told the Guardian in Rio. “It is only when decent men and women said enough is enough and no more, and were prepared to put their lives on the line and go to prison if necessary, and that is where we are. We have to intensify civil disobedience. I keep thinking of what [Nelson] Mandela said decades ago, which is, this struggle is one that I am prepared to live for and if needs be to die for, and that is what the leadership challenge is for us.”
Greenpeace does not want Shell Oil to drill in the Arctic. Shell has obtained a global injunction against Greenpeace. (Didn't know about those? Ah, well – even the right doesn't like the newly proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.) So Greenpeace plans to break some laws. A Shell-bought country may send out their navy to stop them. Who's good? Who's bad? What is necessary?
So back to “Good.” I linked there from the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin. They emailed me that they're having a contest, which Good is arranging, to send in your ideas for improving public spaces. (There's a blog contest too, but “Occupations & Properties” can't be entered because it reports on activities that are illegal – it's in the rules.) The BMW Guggenheim Lab was born from the partnership of the mega-German car company and the entrepreneurial modern art museum. By the project's own flack, it's a “a think tank, a community center and a public space,” and it opened first in New York just before last year's Occupy fall. In August of 2011, some of the old-time Lower East Side squatters and their friends came to the lab and got loud, staging a “Let Them Eat Cake/Eat the Rich/No Comfort Zone street party.” The BMW Lab's theme is “Confronting Comfort.” So then, whose comfort is being confronted?
When the ex-squatters descended, blogger EV Grieve writes, “The Lab itself greeted the protest with a mixture of appreciation and utter annoyance, sympathizing with its cause but finding its aggressive tone objectionable. 'This space is meant for dialogue,' said Lab team host Kristian Koreman, who has roots as a squatter in Rotterdam. 'If they had acted in a way where they wanted an answer to their questions, we would have answered.'”
Well, that's promising, I thought, that an ex-squatter is working with them and is willing to take questions. But it seems these questions should not be ontological: the entire basis of the project is not up for discussion. Still, they could have answered – but what was the question again?
The NYC Lab was used most regularly as a presentation venue for young experts-in-training, architects, planners, and assorted urban geeks. When the Lab was packing up, EV Grieve asked what its readers thought of the NYC gig. One commenter wrote: “I live nearby. I had to pass by to get home many nights. Imagine white hosts in their twenties with lazy, nasally, monotone speaking voices peppering the word 'urbanology' over loud speakers to a mostly fedora and calf-high black-boots-over-black-tights-wearing crowd.”
Urbanology – that's the study of cities. And that is who is working in and curating the Lab. (Except for those who shift chairs and scenography, cook and serve the $10 hamburgers, etc.) While they did invite in a number of old-time resistance oriented people to talk and present, finally it was as history, not as possibility or critique.
They invited me to talk, and I would have if I could have. That's my old neighborhood. The NYC Lab was sited directly across the street from Whole Foods, a giant expensive supermarket developed on city-owned land. Thirty years ago I ate for $1 in a sunny breakfast cafe which stood on that land, next door to a bum's bar open almost 24 hours. (The customers were often allowed to sleep under the tables.) Ten years before I lived there, Jane Jacobs' tribe of activists pitched tents along Houston Street to protest the city's plans to displace low-income residents. The battles this neighborhood fought against gentrification were lost long ago. A local boutique recently did a sarcastic victory dance on the photographic remains of the Mars Bar, the last bastion to fall. So if I had talked at the BMW Lab it would have been in terms of reminiscence, an old geezer sharing his fond and bitter memories...

And Now It's Time for Your Questions
Now the BMW Guggenheim lab is in Berlin, “confronting comfort.” They are “focusing on citizen participation in the future of cities” from June 15 to July 29, offering “free programs designed to empower residents to change the city they live in.” They had planned to plop the Lab in Kreuzberg, along the River Spree. Kreuzberg in the former West Berlin was the epicenter of the squatting movement in the 1980s. Long slated for the massive redevelopment campaign of Mediaspree, this area is on the front lines of the struggle against gentrification in Berlin. The city has been bumping squats and alternative projects out of there one by one. So folks are steamed, and very well organized. The cops got the willies, citing “threats of violence by ultra-left groups.” (The favored weapons of the Mediaspree Versenken / Sink Mediaspree campaign at its height were paint bombs and water pistols, but never mind.) So the Lab was relocated to Prenzlauer Berg, the plush neighborhood of aparatchiks in the former East. Even there they are having trouble – with the police!
They are being over-protected. “If someone makes a presentation in the lab, I do not want visitors to feel they are surrounded by police,” said Maria Nicanor, the curator of the Lab. But they are. A competitive citizens' event for children was interfered with by police. Because that is more or less what the BMW Lab has been reduced to, holding events for children. (P'berg is full of breeding couples.) Which is kind of what the “Good”/BMW Lab collaboration is, finally, an invitation to submit your idea, to ask your question, to make your suggestions. They will judge them, and you might get some publicity, maybe even some kind of prize, like a chance at geekdom yourself.
This is a far cry from what political squatters have traditionally resisted for, and what their contemporary allies envision – a full-scale participatory planning process. “Good” won't do. “Good” is a cartoon for children. Although, just as all those talking animals make a lot of grown-ups into vegetarians, we may hope that our “Good” kids may wake up before we're all in free fall over that cliff. Time's Up. We can't just be “Good.” We must fight the evil, including the evil that results from doing nothing and refusing to look.
Although the times so often seem to demand it, I don't like to write cranky or canty. So let me add, as a kind of coda – the info about the resistance to the BMW Guggenheim Lab was sent to me by a member of the SqEK group who is following the action. His email subject line was “FUCK THE BMW LAB.” In Germany, as the website of the anti's makes clear, there are plenty of reasons to feel enmity towards that company for its past, its political role, etc.. In the USA they are simply known for making expensive cars which get exhibited in museums like the Guggenheim.
I have devoted my life to seeking and disseminating knowledge, so I have respect for the “laboratory” process that BMW Guggenheim Lab pretends to embody. But the way that SqEK is doing it is in the model of militant research, and we don't have any money. This is rather the opposite of the embedded institutional and corporate knowledge that the Lab seeks to produce and disseminate.
Corporate knowledge, even in its tutelary mode, does not advance according to a model of “criticism and self-criticism.” At best, it will answer your questions. (In some way; speak after you have spoken; or maybe say nothing.) It rests securely on its monetary foundations. Those talking are paid to talk. Those listening may pay to listen so that they in turn may become the ones paid to talk.
There is a great deal to be learned from the inhabitants of a city which you are seeking to redevelop. There is much of value in the institutions they have created, especially those that they have formed with great effort and solidarity in resistance. If you don't talk with them instead of at them you will never learn. When you are surrounded by the police, it is clear that the position of your investigation is corrupted. Then you are not a listening post but a sound truck. You present as a potential victim who must be protected from the discourse you wish to understand. The knowledge you gain will, of course, be shared with your protectors. So why should anyone talk to you? Talking to the police can only get you in trouble.
It isn't that the people running the BMW Guggenheim Lab are bad – they aren't. They come from an enlightened corporate sector. They mean well, and they are trying their best to do something meaningful amidst difficult circumstances. It is that at this very late stage in our planetary devolution they are still trying to make a business out of doing “Good.” It's certainly too late for that.

images -- from, "Walkout from Rio+20"; PowerShiftCanada2012
police around BMW Lab from
“Good” – it's registered in Iceland(?), although it is U.S.A.-centric; there's also a journal
Bici Crítica -- Every last Thursday of the month, at 8pm in Cibeles, Madrid.
Chris Carlsson speed raps for 30 minutes on his book “Nowtopia” – our necessary future
TIME'S UP! is a New York City-based not-for-profit direct-action environmental group that uses events and educational programs to promote a more sustainable, less toxic city.
Jo Confino, “Furious Greenpeace moves to 'war footing' at Rio+20 -- Pace quickens at Rio summit, as NGO director responds to weakened oceans proposals with promise of civil disobedience”
15 June 2012 at
EV Grieve blog – August 9, 2011 anti-gentrification protest at the BMW Guggenheim Lab – “(The comments section is still smoldering.)” EV Grieve blog – “Packing up the BMW Guggenheim Lab”
“Hamptons boutique Blue & Cream mounted a 'Tribute to Mars Bar' photo exhibit in their Bowery location.”
“Confronting Comfort: BMW Guggenheim Lab Opens” in Berlin
“The project's overarching theme, Confronting Comfort, spans the first two-year cycle of the six-year project”
Christopher Cottrell, “Berlin's Gentrification Row – Locals Rage Against Rising Rents”
about the monster that is “Mediaspree”
Nicanor and other quotes are from “BMW Lab Verhindern” (prevent BMW Lab) blog in German, via Google translate
“City Forward” competition – good luck!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Squat Cinema June 21, Interference Archive -- Two Documentaries from the European Squatter Movement Thursday June 21st, 7:30pm Resistir es Vencer: "To Resist is To Win" is a diy documentary that chronicles a year in the squatters movement in Barcelona in the mid 1990s. Starting with the eviction of the famous Cine Princesa occupation this film follows the demonstrations, occupations, and riots that accompanied this particularly strong period in the squatters movement in Barcelona. Barcelona 1998. 30 min. Spanish with English subtitles
69: Ungdomshuset (literally “the Youth House”) was the popular name of the building formally named Folkets Hus (“House of the People”) located on Jagtvej 69 in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, which functioned as an underground scene venue for music and a rendezvous point for varying anarchist and leftist groups from 1982 until 2007. On 1 March 2007 Ungdomshuset was cleared of its occupants by the police at about 7:00 in the morning, sparking days of intense rioting and giving birth to a widespread social movement that fought for a new space for alternative culture.
“69″, directed and shot by first-time filmmaker Nikolaj Viborg, looks at the dramatic events leading up to the authorities clearing Ungdomshuset on 1 March 2007 and the conflict that ensued. The film won the New Nordic Voices award at Nordisk Panorama 2008. Denmark 2008. 58 min. Danish with English subtitles

Thursday, June 7, 2012

On Failing, Sharing, and Getting Lost

I'm stewing over the Wisconsin electoral defeat of the recall effort on Governor Scott Walker, that light-of-the-right union buster. All that grassroots organizing seems to have gone for nothing. Once you enter the electoral arena, you face huge bloated moneybags throwing their weight around propagandistically. And the sheepy people buy it. For me, this goes hand in hand with the suppression of the Occupy movement nationwide, which we learned was coordinated by federal agencies. We're back in the desert again, shut out of electoral politics. And again, frustrated reformers have only their sometime friends, the Democratic Party, to blame – for, according to the party's own calculations, not throwing their own chances away by supporting lost causes. So, say many, there goes Obama. Between the shitty economy – thanks to Republican obstruction in Congress which has successfully blocked stimulus – and the fatal loss of morale in the progressive cadres, the first black president looks to be fucked for a second term. Bienvenido Mr. Romney.
For his people it seems fine, all right, if the USA becomes a sea of third world poverty with a few well-fortified islands of urban plenty. So much of the science fiction I read in my youth describes just such a world – and it weren't no utopia, that's for sure!
So now what?
Around the same time the Occupy camps were being cleared in the USA, a gal I'd never heard of gave an interesting talk in London at the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London. I picked up the Jack Halberstam podcast today, talking about her new book The Queer Art of Failure. The website billed it as a look at “how failure can be used to mobilize radical politics.” Well, maybe not – but it's pretty damned interesting.
Here's my notes on the arguments in her podcast. First, she says, “Queerness is failure as style.” Because queers – that's newspeak for the gay and lesbian and transgender people who don't think of themselves as the new bourgeoisie – queers cannot adopt to gender roles. They always “fail” at being successful heterosexual men or women. So, instead of being shamed by this failure, queers “inhabit it.”
Now, capitalism is about winning and losing. But we always lose sight of the losing part – we are encouraged to forget about that! For a few people to win a lot, many many people have to lose a lot. This means that many, in fact, even most of us under capitalism, are defined in relation to failure.
Then she starts talking about the Invisible Committee, and their recent radical pamphlet “The Coming Insurrection.” The analysis of the Invisible Committee suggests that we get disorganized, and push the crisis in order to try to bring the system down, because it is not the system that is in crisis, it is capitalism that is the crisis. Again, the economy isn't in crisis, it is the crisis. So the IC urges activists – anarchists, particularly – to intensify the crisis. Get disorganized, find each other, and help to push the system into collapse. Occupations have tried to do that.
(Here I lost her a little, since it's not clear that Occupy or any radical group has any power to intensify anything in the general economy, outside of an occasional wildcat strike in a very marginal sector of the economy like coffee shops or bookstores in a notoriously hippie town. Occupy, I thought specified the analysis of the crisis, and diversified the strategies of popular organization that are confronting it – that's all [although that's a lot!]. They have had no real effect on the structure of the crisis itself, i.e., no economic effects, except for boosting police budgets.)
Then she talks of the classic modernist attitude towards failure, using playwright Samuel Beckett as her example: “Fail again, fail better.” Refuse the terms of success, because for the modernists, successful humans are despicable. Only those who fail are respectable. (Again, I doubt it – but I'm reporting her!)
Halberstam then referenced the anarchist political theory of James C. Scott (in his “Seeing Like a State,” 1999) on peasant resistance. Slowdowns, passive resistance, “foot-dragging,” are signs of resistance, stalling the imposition of any kind of rule. (E.g., “Slackers.”) Failure then is one of the “weapons of the weak,” and it stalls the business of the dominators. Then she talked about the novel “Trainspotting.” “In the U.S.,” she said, “people don't read it, but here it's a way of life.” This is “an unqueer novel about failure, disappointment, addiction, violence” with “outbursts and obscene rants from the Scottish working class... [and] moments of searing punk negativity” through which the (anti?) hero articulates his resistance. Halberstam said she was invited by the lesbian art publishing group LTTR to contribute to an event around failure. They pointed out that lesbian tennis champions don't get commercial endorsements. For example, big winner Martina Navratilova was passed over in favor of a loser because she is so “out.” “The butch,” Halberstam says, “can't be co-opted by capitalism. Capitalism presumes that in order to sell things it has to engage the male gaze on the one hand, and sell a certain version of femininity on the other.” This is how to begin to think of the logic of failure, and how it disrupts all kinds of systems. “Capital doesn't run through every single identity location.” While in books and TV shows to be queer is to be consigned to a place of sadness and loneliness, in fact, there's an active social network. Heterosexuality is the place of “nuclearity and isolation.” There was a lot more. She whacked on Slavoj Zizek for his book “In Defense of Lost Causes,” criticizing his take on the recent UK riots as being an inverse of capitalist consumerism, a matter of “shoppers out of control.” The problem we face today “doesn't conform to an old left lineage. As soon as you think big, you're already back into the logic of capital. We're looking for weapons of the weak. We have to think small.” (It's not only Slavoj; this is the kind of talk that drives David Harvey crazy too, although he keeps a better poker face.)
She spoke about the way we sentimentalize the small, the miniature, because it's irrelevant, using a painting of a dead baby bird. She talked about her chapter on “shadow feminism,” the work of undoing femininity, citing as examples the artists Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic. (She missed my old pal “drag king” Diane Torr, a Scottish lass who's been at this as long as Marina.) Halberstam also analyzes a series of recent childrens' films using the new technique of CGI animation. “To address a child viewer, you have to address failure, because children are always messing up.” These films, she says, teach that “children are collective beings.” But we need to unlearn the attitudes of childhood in order to become competitive individuals in capitalist society. These films educated the Occupy generation. “The child's best line of defense is simply to say 'no'.” This absolute irrational negativity stymies response, and stops the forward motions of parents. Children are a reminder of what we used to be, and a reminder that there are other ways of being in the world.
Finally, during the question period, Halberstam returned to questions around Scott's book “Seeing Like a State” concerning legibility. “The failure to be is a failure to be legible,” she said. “But the answer is not to become legible.” But that's been my project with “House Magic” – precisely to make the social center and squatting movement “legible,” i.e., intelligible as to its political objectives and constituency of activists and participants. Through this, I have reasoned – in classic liberal fashion – it could become possible to legalize successful occupations, to make them “demotic institutions” (not “monsters” as Universidad Nómada has argued). But since its inception, I have worried about my strategy. Stefano Harney and Fred Moten argued that what they called the “undercommons” was a precious resource of the oppressed precarious workers within universities, knowledge that should not be shared with the rulers. The nagging doubt remains that the social center information project could be misguided, unproductive, itself doomed to failure and obsolescence. Halberstam seems to point to a strategy of condensing within failure – which for squats and occupations means eviction – and doing... what? Not exactly so clear, then, is it? More self-isolation – “auto-ghettizzazione,” as the Italians called it?
Even as I write this, my doubts strike me as a little silly. (But then I'm reading Tony Judt, and for him, everything is a little silly.) Still, the question of the conduct and utility of research on the new social movements is on the table with the rise of new cadres of militant or movement researchers and activist-scholars. There's been an important recent burst of thought on this. Is it a reprise of the “scholars into the factories” movement of the French Maoist '60s? Well, not exactly. The group I'm in with, SqEK, is also going through some conniptions around these questions. And there's an “Occupy Research Collective Convergence (ORCC)” June 30 on “activism and research ethics” in London. The game is afoot in academia, and it's a good bet that Mycroft is listening.
Halberstam concludes poetically – (it's cultural studies, after all!) – “We need to forget the old models, cut them loose, so that we can be available to what comes next, open to the political possibilities that will come from being disoriented.... You have to get lost to be able to find a new path.” Well, me too, I'm lost. Vamos à la dérive.
only the first of many reports on U.S. federal repression of Occupy is Rick Ellis, “Update: 'Occupy' crackdowns coordinated with federal law enforcement officials” (November, 2011; Minneapolis Examiner) – but it's a lot worse that this, as subsequent reports have shown – cf. yr local “repression watch”
Jack Halberstam on The Queer Art of Failure – a podcast; link is here:
you can pick up “Coming” online, among other places here –
where the tagline says the book is now illegal in France. Wait a minute, don't they have a new president?
James C. Scott’s book “Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed” (1999)
LTTR No. 3, “Practice More Failure” (July 2004) is an artists' book; but some of it is online –
Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, “The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses” in Social Text Summer 2004
The Argentinian group Colectivo Situaciones published “On the Researcher-Militant” in 2003 (trans. S. Touza) – it is at
in English, Spanish and German
Stevphen Shukaitis, David Graeber, Erika Biddle, eds., “Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations, Collective Theorization” (AK Press, 2007)
Julie Perini and Kevin Van Meter (Team Colors Collective), “What Is Militant & Co-Research?” (2008)
Colectivo Situaciones (trans. Nate Holdren & Sebastián Touza), “19 & 20: Notes for a New Social Protagonism” (Minor Compositions, 2011)
“Vamos à la dérive” is the Spanish title for “Let's Get Lost” (1988) is Bruce Weber's movie about Chet Baker. Jazz and heroin in France of the boom years.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Earthquake in Milan

I've been in Italy, visiting ancient monuments on a real-life vacation. As I was leaving, an earthquake with 200+ aftershocks fractured much of northern Italy's historical patrimony (matrimony?). The span of my vacation also covered the lifespan of a new eruption in Milan, the MACAO cultural center occupation in a long-abandoned skyscraper. Milan has a venerable tradition of political squatting, including what many call the first European social center, Leoncavallo. This squat is different, though. It's not only anarchists or communists, not even only indignados – this time it's a mass of “cultural workers” who walked into this typical example of speculative over-reaching. And they had support – a roster of leading European intellectuals signed on in support. Dario Fo spoke to the squatters. The institutional internet mainstay E-Flux urged support for the occupation. Even Italian Vogue covered the story, sending out their photographers to snap some very elegant pictures of the activists' job-site. The photo of the general assembly of MACAO above tells you why there has been so much interest. There are simply too many people, too many workers in this very important fashion industry town, who are in on this occupation to ignore it. It is a rising of the fabled precariat of the culture industry, but this time supported by their management. As the occupiers write, “MACAO, the new arts centre in Milan, is a great experiment in building with a bottom up approach a space in which to produce art and culture. A place where artists and citizens can gather together in order to invent a new system of rules for a common and participatory management which, in an autonomous way, will redefine time and priorities of their work and allow them to experiment with new common languages. We are artists, curators, critics, guards, graphic designers, performers, actors, dancers, musicians, writers, journalists, art teachers, students, and everybody who works in the field of art and culture. We’ve been mobilizing for one year, meeting in assemblies to discuss our situation as precarious workers in the fields of artistic production, entertainment, media, entertainment industry, festivals, and t
he so-called economy of the event. A world increasingly hostage of the finance that exploits and absorbs the primary task of culture, which is to be an economy of sharing. We represent a large share of the workforce of this city that has always been an outpost of advanced service sector. We are the multitude of workers of the creative industries that too often have to submit to humiliating conditions to access income, with no protection and no coverage in terms of welfare, not even being considered as proper interlocutors for the current labor reform, all focused on the instrumental debate over Article 18. We were born precarious, we are the pulse of the future economy, and we will not continue to accommodate exploitation mechanisms, and loss redistribution.... MACAO fought alongside and within this network: Lavoratori dell’arte, Cinema Palazzo in Rome, Teatro Valle Occupato in Rome, Sale Docks in Venice, Teatro Coppola in Catania, L’Asilo della Creatività e della Conoscenza in Naples, and Teatro Garibaldi Aperto in Palermo.” The mayor at first seemed as if he was going to play along and give the group some space, only not this building. Yesterday it seems, negotiations broke down, and first the police, and then the army was sent in to evict the squatters. Even so, it seems like only the first act. The corruptions and privations of the Berlusconi era have led to a huge “pent-up demand” for viable cultural facilities and services. (These recent troubles are spelled out in Rob Hammelijnck and Nienke Terpsma, eds., “Italian Conversations: Art in the Age of Berlusconi,” pub. Fucking Good Art, 2011.) When a social center occupation attempt gains the support of leading cultural figures it can very well be the prelude to a deal. LINKS -- MACAO // E-Flux “Art & Education”: “MACAO belongs to everyone, let’s protect it!” // the Facebook page (a triumph of design, BTW) // article on MACAO on the website of Italian Vogue

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shatterproof Glass

Sorry for the long silence. Excuses, NYC burnout, confusion, purpose-turning and scrivening, as ever. At first I thought I'd blog about the Chris Hedges controversy, my recreational reading on the plane back to Madrid last month. The war correspondent and OWS symp Hedges attacked the Occupy movement's “diversity of tactics” as an excuse for “violence” by anarchist elements, which he called the “cancer in the Occupy movement.” Of course I think Hedges is packing baloney – people have to assert their rights or they won't have them, including their right to the city. Still, I decided not to blog on this. The text provoked a lot of responses, though, so my comment became superfluous aside from compilation. I refer you to David Graeber's excellent response, the thoughtful rejoinder by Crimethinc and the new Fifth Estate. For the rest, Google will do it.
Oh no, I can't help it! The controversy points to the divide between reformists and anti-systemists within the Occupy movement. I don't want to say “revolutionaries,” although it's crystal clear that we cannot go on like this. (Anti-establishmentarians?) And it would be just as foolish to call the reformists the “rot within the Occupy movement.” Everyone needs to be in on this. Tom Hayden stands with the latter camp as he turns 70. (The Port Huron-era SDS just had a reunion convergence at NYU.) He put the current Occupy movement in context with the Civil rights struggle recently, remarking on occupation as a tactic: “The logic of an occupation, I think, is that if you feel voiceless about a burning issue of great great importance, and the institutions have failed you, the only way to get leverage for your voice is to occupy their space in order to get their attention” (Speaking to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, April 13, 2012).
In March at the SQEK/House Magic library show at Interference Archive in Brooklyn, Adrien from Les Cafards in Paris showed films and gave a talk in March. He spoke about “France under global debt threat, seen from a suburb, in between squatted houses, political issues, housing, money and social problems, everyday life, autonomous struggles, and dreams to occupy the entire city.... about sharing some questions and tensions inside social movements outside institutional politics, and inside a small community of activists mostly living in squatted houses in an eastern suburb of Paris. “With some successes and failures, we try to organize to keep away monetary necessities, stupid jobs, part-time contracts, economic pressure. We reach for a bit more freedom, more time, and somehow, by any means we can find, take down the capitalist system. We try to fight against huge urban projects, housing evictions, police practices—in order to build community forces against the crushing metropolis. We try to open and defend spaces for organizations, a social center (for example) in which we can have meetings, meals, shows, and where we can meet, share our situations, our problems, to sort out collectively our pressures and problems.” I see that his bunch is meeting this month at a coffe shop near Metro Robespierre. Great traditions never die!
Another SQEK New York participant who is still hanging around the Big Apple is Nathan Eisenstadt, Last weekend he workshopped at the New York Anarchist Book Fair on the story of his group, Bristol Space Invaders. That is a “UK based collective that emerged after an international call-out for days of action in defence of squats and autonomous spaces in 2008. Since its inception the group have been responsible for a range of temporary spectacular event-spaces from large urban convergence centres for particular actions/struggles/gatherings to illicit theatrical speakeasies, high-grade free restaurants, art galleries, squatter-estate agents and finally a more permanent space: the Factory, a huge squatted Social Centre in Bristol, England” (evicted November 2011). Nathan sounds like a swell resource for local creative activists! Wearing his other hat, the Bristol-based geographer who an academic talk tomorrow as a “participant/ethnographer of autonomous spaces” to the Space Time Research Collective, a new student group at the CUNY Graduate Center.
MEANwhile, “House Magic” journal #4 is available for PDF download at the website, It's really good! And #5 is going to be an assembling – it's an open call. I'm going to try and close it in time for summer. Here's what is in the #4 zine of the “House Magic: Bureau of Foreign Correspondence” project: the bulletin of the information project on squatted spaces and social centers includes many squats launched by the U.S. and European Occupy movements – 44 pages of occupation information and history, in articles and short blurbs. Features: Aja Waalwijk on Ruigoord, an old-time Dutch squatted village, and Rob Robinson of O4O and Picture the Homeless in NYC on international solidarities.
Table of Contents – pages of bulletins, including Occupy London's “Bank of Ideas”; the attempt to make a social center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and again in Seattle, Washington; a huge collage from the Ungdomshuset cafeteria in Copenhagen; Libertad Guerra's collage celebrating the CHARAS group's work in 1970s Loisaida, NYC; sculptor Ken Hiratsuka's stone commemorating an evicted garden; the program of the Berlin 30 year squat anniversary celebration; a digest of the anti-gentrification work going on in Hamburg; the story of anarchist organizing and the AK57 in Budapest and a travelogue on a “political business trip” to London; an extensive text on the squatted village of Ruigoord, which celebrates its anniversary this year; the story of the legalized Tabacalera in Madrid; and an interview with homeless advocate Rob Robinson on NYC's O4O and its solidarities in Africa and Brazil.
My text, “This Show Brought To You By The Squatting Movement” is up at the NY Arts magazine website as part of their spring issue. I also just finished a draft of a talk, “Art + Squat = X” for a talk Universidad Complutense in Madrid, where I am a visiting researcher. When it's decent, I'll upload it to the website, where the predecessor texts are also sitting.


Adrien from Les Cafards at Interference Archive, SQEK/House Magic library
Cockroach coffee klatch, April '12 – CAFé des CAFards au Rémouleur

New York Anarchist Bookfair workshop schedule (April 15-16, 2012)
Anarchist Book Fair last weekend (although the arts festival continues, April 21-22).
(Breaking news -- I see there was some rioting after – – at least the AFB got the chance to disassociate themselves in the press. Starbucks was ready for them, with shatterproof windows. I only wonder why didn't do something useful and try to kraak a social center? )

Nate Eisenstadt

Factory, evicted November 2011

House Magic #4, Spring 2012 – download it! print it! sell it!

Alan W. Moore, "This Show Brought To You By The Squatting Movement," NY Arts, Spring 2012

poster from the 2009 NYC Anarchist Book Fair by Josh MacPhee