Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Berlin Conference on Squat Research, March 29-31 // Solidarity Show at Rote Flora Open Now

We're going to Berlin! The SQEK group – Squatting Europe Research Collective – is having a conference at the New Yorck in the Bethanien occupation in Kreuzberg, West Berlin. SQEK is described in this text from the June 2010 London meeting (I blogged it), “Squatting Europe is a research network focusing on the squatters' movement. Our aim is to produce reliable and fine-grained knowledge about this movement not only as an end in itself, but also as a public resource, especially for squatters and activists. Critical engagement, transdisciplinarity and comparative approaches are the bases of our project. The group is an open transnational collective (Squatting Europe Kollective, SQEK) whose members represent a diversity of disciplines and fields of interest seeking to understand the issues associated with squats and social centres across the European Union.”
It's militant research – an academic trend that a 2009 seminar in New York laid out, complete with bibliography, including the texts in David Graeber and Stevphen Shukaitis (eds), Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations, Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). And the New Yorck Bethanien is a good place to have it. It's a recent occupation in the old hospital complex in Kreuzberg. Their website explains, “On June 11th 2005, residents and collectives of the house project 'Yorck 59' squatted 2 floors of the southern wing of the Bethanien, this happening just 5 days after being evicted violently by more than 500 cops from the Yorck Street 59. Since then, many new collectives and groups joined the project, in spite of repression and threats of eviction. One of them being the 'Initiative Zukunft Bethanien', which in June 2006 handed over more than 14.000 signatures to the district government - to call for an open cultural, artistic, political and social centre in the Bethanien and to prevent the buildings privatization.”
I have been very busy – and Michel Chevalier busier still, making this show in Hamburg which is up now: "Nicht das Neue, nicht das Alte, sondern das Notwendige," a No Wave Squatter Punk (Anti)Art Ausstellung, March 21-April 3, 2011. This is an exhibition at the Rote Flora (Red Flower), an occupied theater in Hamburg, Germany on the occasion of their negotiation for renewal of permission to use... In other words, a solidarity show with this center for independent political culture. The show consists largely of art information sent from New York City by agents of Colab and ABC No Rio that show a continuous history of radical culture in that global city.
Michel enthuses: “For two weeks an attempt will be made to put as much life and sense as possible into a mythical era that has not yet been fully understood: the tumultuous last gasps of musical and art rule-breaking in the capital of the twentieth century. In the first week, the Rote Flora will house an historical panorama (prints, books, posters, zines, videos, records) of the radically anti-commercial music, film and art-collective production that evolved in several low-income (and crumbling!) neighborhoods of New York City in the late seventies and early eighties. These people were not rule-breaking formalists of the ivory-tower type. Their struggles included attacks on the organization of society through norms, repression, and neoliberal "urban renewal" plans, and their gritty gallows-humor and clear focus was a karate kick against the sunny amnesia, the return to the 1950s, that Reagan and his friends in the consciousness industry propagated with their overwhelming means. Most of the rule-breakers we look back on said goodbye, forever, to normal careers and even, in the case of the many featured artists who were also squatters, to physical safety.
“In the second week, the previous artifacts will be supplemented by the more recent research and concerns of some of the "survivors" of this time and place, in particular the information project undertaken by Alan Moore (Colab, ABC No Rio), dedicated to raising awareness of Social Centers in squatted buildings worldwide, of which the Rote Flora is an example. Moore's new book on politicized collectives between 1969 and 1985 will also be included in the exhibition, and he will come for a talk at the Rote Flora on April 3rd. Our program will be further amplified by food from the Volksküche, a DJ battle, video screenings, a performance by Deus Ex Machina (Berlin), and a satirical DIY treatment of a wealthy Hamburg polit-kitsch painter. This project is the first attempt to collect these materials on this scale in Europe.”
I can't wait to see it!
MEANwhile, very cool and dire action on the left and right in London – Squattastic group is mobilizing against the upcoming anti-squatter law push. (Many cool Nils Norman-esque posters on their blogspot). And the Really Free School is rolling along, being very smart and engaged. (No gods, no schoolmasters – only you and alla youse.) Wunderbar dass todos geht fort – hulloo! hulloo!


Some materials from SQEK are at:

The SQEK program of talks, and my notes from the 2010 London conference are at:

This Is Forever militant and co-research seminar syllabus:

New Yorck in the Bethanien

Squattastic posters are cool

Really Free School

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