Archive for Dezember, 2011

Making this world ours

Posted on: Dezember 22nd, 2011 by Denhart von Harling

Making this world ours

A report from the occupation at Beursplein

Jonas Staal

This week, together with a group of artists, I have joined the occupation of Beursplein, [Amsterdam’s stock exchange] by way of a collective tent.

 

We believe in public space as a democratic space. As a space where the political process can take place in its most fundamental form. The space where we investigate – through encounter, debate and conflict – what we could consider as common; what the space is where we can find common ground; where a shared language can be developed.

 

The violent manner in which the Dutch riot police broke down a peaceful artists’ protest in front of the Parliament Building in The Hague on June 28th, 2011 has left a deep mark on all of us. Especially when it became known why the police deemed it necessary to have a battalion of riot police beat the democratic right to spontaneous demonstration off the streets, namely because it would cause hindrance to the shoppers – implying that if it had not taken place in a shopping street, it wouldn’t have been removed. But what is to be done in our cities that nowadays virtually consist only of generic shopping streets? Where do we escape to when consumer right is considered a “greater” democratic right than that of political assembly? Is the Malieveld – the designated space for protest situated outside the city center, in other words: the dumping ground of democracy – the only space we have left to reclaim the political?

 

The answer – unfortunately – is yes. A despicable field, which only obtains visibility when the media decides it has an interest vested therein, is the sole “democratic” public space that is offered to us.

 

The occupation of Beursplein shows that there can be a critical mass that does not agree to this. Surrounded by the stock exchange, a funfair on Dam Square, endless shopping malls and tourist streets, they have set up their camp. Without a leader or preconceived structure this extremely diverse and leaderless group attempts to reinvent the political process collectively. The public meetings are the most striking: they are forums where every evening anyone is welcome to come and speak about the form of protest and the practical and ideological functioning of the encampment. Any person may speak and his or her words are collectively repeated by those present in order to make everyone fully aware of the entire political body that searches for a voice: one that reflects the multitude of people who find themselves unified therein.

 

On the surface, various media have described the manifestation of these ideals at the occupied stock exchange as poor. Rain-drenched armchairs, half collapsed tents, day-trippers, ‘The Socialist’ paper vendors, weak slogans, rainbow paintings and a remarkable surplus of poorly groomed dogs do not form the ideal representation of a collective research of new democratic models. But these superficial appearances are inherent to the process in which politics are re-designed from scratch; in which models are sought that do not merely invite their citizens to outsource their vote once every four years, but rather challenge them to shape it themselves and strive for an openness where this is possible. A non-exclusive space, because politics should not be confined to a parliament, to casting a vote, or taking part in a survey or referendum, nor should it be limited to reading the newspaper or watching the news. Politics means taking the responsibility to see this world as our world, and to shape it as such.

 

This is what the occupation strives for. The form in which it manifests itself inevitably demands criticism. But that does not exempt us from making the only right choice; to occupy

Beursplein, and make this world ours again

 

October 22 2011

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Occupy Amsterdam. Photo: unbekannt

The March of the Outraged Will Go On

Posted on: Dezember 22nd, 2011 by Denhart von Harling

The March of the Outraged Will Go On

Igor Stokfiszewski

On May 15 this year, a wave of demonstrations swept through Madrid, Barcelona and a number of other cities in Spain. Their participants protested against the socially destructive impact of free market economic reforms, introduced by the government of Prime Minister Zapatero to tackle the rising unemployment and the growing economic instability of the country resulting from the global crisis. In a reaction to a law enforcement clampdown in Madrid–out of proportion compared to the non-violent course of the demonstration–the protesters decided to occupy squares in the largest Spanish cities, while the protest itself took the form of a peaceful revolution: with slogans referring to the crisis of representative democracy, the alliance of the world of politics with the world of finance–the effects of which are destructive for the citizens.

 

Towards the end of July, the Marches of the Outraged (as this name came to be used in reference to the protesters), which set out from across Spain, met in the capital of the kingdom. They decided to head to Brussels and present high EU officials with demands for improving the level of civic engagement in political procedures, decreasing the influence of financial institutions on these procedures, as well as with other demands and proposals for structural solutions that the protesters would collect in the so-called “book of the people” during assemblies held en route in cities and towns.

 

On the way to Brussels, on September 17, the Outraged staged a protest in Paris. This was followed by the Occupy Wall Street action launched by activists in the U.S. as a sign of solidarity with the events in Europe. In the meantime, protests spread to Portugal and increased in intensity in Greece, which still faces the threat of economic default. Today, that is October 15, the March has reached Brussels, closing the first, nearly six-month long, chapter of the development of the Movement of the Outraged, along with their basic demands and political practices. In solidarity with the protesters, manifestations and occupy actions took place in almost a thousand cities across the globe. As I write these words, the protesters are holding a people’s assembly in Parc du Cinquantenaire, three kilometers from the place I’m at.

 

In spite of the wide impact of their actions in biggest centers across the world, the Outraged are at the beginning of their journey. We walk slowly – they say – because we walk a long way. But the end of the first, nearly six-month long, stage of this extraordinary voyage not only makes a good pretext for summaries, but also invites questions about what comes next. Does the peaceful revolution of the Outraged stand a chance of effecting a lasting change of the social and political reality? And if so, what would be the shape of this new reality once the revolution has achieved its goals?

 

Let us begin with a summary. It goes without saying that the Outraged achieved a remarkable success in Spain – this is attested not only by the 80% support which the movement enjoys in the society, but also and above all, by the far-reaching political effects: the fact that Prime Minister Zapatero was forced to dissolve the parliament, and schedule earlier elections for November. He also gave up the leadership of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party as well as his ambition of running for the parliament in the upcoming elections, last but not least, Zapatero launched a real campaign against political corruption and for weakening the position of financial institutions, also by means of nationalization. The Outraged have been increasingly successful in forcing the decision-makers to accept pro-social legal solutions and, in the face of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Spain, the ruling elites seem more humble to acknowledge the Movement as an influential political subject.

 

The Occupy Wall Street protest should certainly be seen as a success as well. For a few weeks now, the eyes of the world have all been turned to the financial heart of the U.S., while the Democratic Party which spawned Obama candidacy (but which doesn’t have a majority in Congress), is more and more willing to acknowledge the demands of the protesters concerning the glaring economic disparities in the American society: the inefficiency of public institutions and democratic procedures. Whatever the further fate of the Outraged overseas may be, it is clear that the U.S. is the second country in the world, after Spain, where the movement is being perceived as a wide and influential representation of the excluded social strata and, therefore, as a political subject of growing importance.

 

This said, over the last few months the Outraged have also successfully developed an international network of political cooperation: uniting activists across the globe; developing a set of practices related to a permanent occupation of the public space; making decisions in the course of direct voting; making information, demands, and experience based on social and political practice available through digital media; as well as disseminating knowledge on how to successfully spread protests in order to effectively exert social pressure on the political decision-makers.

 

All this, hoverer, is merely the tip of the ice berg. The goals of the Outraged are higher than mere influencing the current politics of one or another country, influencing the legal acts regulating the relationship between politics and economy, or even successfully establishing an international of permanent resistance to the political and economic shape of today’s world. The Outraged call for a transformation of the whole realm of economy and substituting capitalism with a more just financial system, and for a transformation of the whole realm of politics and substituting representative democracy with a system that would be more direct. How, then, should we see the future of this peaceful revolt and, in consequence, perhaps the political future of the whole world?

 

Let us first look at the future of the Movement in the upcoming months. The activists I talked with pointed out three options. Most likely, one group of the Outraged will spend the winter in Brussels, to then head for Berlin and other centers, including Warsaw, in spring. Another group will move immediately, heading to Berlin and other cities east of Brussels to spend the Winter there and, along with the local activists, prepare the ground for another international surge in spring next year. The third group will return to Spain in order to share the experience of the March with their comrades and support action in the cradle of the revolution. One way or the other, even if the Movement will calm down in the upcoming months, it will only mark an intermission, in which the Outraged will prepare the next episode of the peaceful rebellion.

 

“The economic crisis will deepen, and more and more people will fall prey to it because of the lack of structural solutions” – says one of the Outraged, explaining why the future of the Movement is not of concern to the protesters. Indeed, all this points to the fact that the upcoming months will see an increase rather than drop in the numbers of the Outraged. Additionally, most of those who have been protesting in Spain, or marching north, have nothing to lose. The collapse of the labor market left them jobless, while the fact that they didn’t pay the rent (with what?), and the results of the anti-social housing policy, left them homeless. They can either beg, or protest until they are heard. So they would rather choose the latter. We should note that the unemployment rate among youth in Spain has risen over 40% – which amounts to millions of people with no jobs, no means for a living, and no perspectives. People who have nowhere to go, and nowhere to return. Poverty and rage scattered them across Europe where – joined by others, who share the same fate, or at least the same view of the inhuman character of today’s world – they stand up in defense of individual and collective dignity–a dignity that is suppressed by the inefficacy of the political elites guarding the economic system which caters to the wealthy and is geared towards multiplying their riches. The determination of people with no future “in this world” is another, after the deepening crisis, guarantee of the Movement’s growing power, while the results that the Outraged have achieved in Spain itself prove that their trajectory and methods are effective, and encourage them to pursue long-term goals with perseverance.

 

However, the most important part of the question about the future of the Movement and its peaceful revolution does not concern a patient transformation of the existing status quo in politics and economy. At the core of the Movement lies generating new political practices and developing a parallel democracy – a form of direct rule of the people that exists alongside the representative arm which is evidently losing its credibility to represent the majority of the society. The outraged admit that, having experienced a five-month long peaceful revolution, they find it difficult to imagine a different way of political participation than direct voting in people’s assemblies. Moreover, residents of cities which hosted such assemblies on the way to Brussels acknowledged the agora as a suitable form of exercising their political subjectivity. The assemblies also attracted local politicians, who accepted the decisions, which the residents made in the course of the meetings, as the voice of the people, and who distributed the knowledge concerning these meetings and decisions in their respective offices. Owing to social media, organizing gatherings which extend beyond local communities has ceased to be an utopia. Few days ago, we have witnessed the first global people’s assembly which used web media as a platform.

 

If the Outraged are successful in spreading the virus of direct democracy among the citizens of the world – and it seems that this will be the case – then the possible scenario for shaping the system of collective decisions and of governing the collective good, will be connected with developing grassroots political practices. As a result, representative democracy will lose its credibility for the sake of new politics of a higher level of civic engagement, geared towards more effective empowerment of groups and individuals through a system of direct (mediated via digital media) people’s assemblies, and civic collectives, which will distribute the knowledge of taken decisions among the officials enacting the will of the people. In consequence, the need for the political class in its current shape (that is, a class of middlemen, operating between the people and the officials who implement the tasks agreed on by the people) will disappear and along with it the legitimacy for the existence of political parties. The sociologists highlighting a crisis, or a even downfall, of the party system are right not only because today’s parties no longer represent the group interests of citizens who vote for them (which means they fail to fulfill their basic task), but also because they are a redundant element between the citizens, who can express their political will in a more direct way, and those, whose task is to translate the will of the people into reality. Regardless of who wins the November elections in Spain (most likely it would be the conservative People’s Party), the politicians will be forced to realize the demands placed by the citizens involved in the Movement of the Outraged. They will be clerks of the executive controlled by the people, with limited possibilities of individual action, like the socialist cabinet which, facing the social pressure over the last months, had little room for political maneuver – and whenever it acted to the detriment of the citizens, the protesters always forced it to change the position. It is almost certain that a similar fate awaits the Spanish People’s Party, as well as any other political formation across the world. Needless to say that this transformation of the sphere of politics will bring a change in the relations between citizens and economy, which will forfeit its autonomy for the sake of social needs, and become an instrument for improving the quality of life and for multiplying the public good. The capitalists, who will lose their allies among political elites because of their dependency, will also lose an effective tool for distancing themselves from social pressures.

 

The above scenario, envisaging the development of the peaceful revolution and changes it could bring to the realm of politics, economy, and social life, seems most plausible not only because it has been implemented and developed in dozens of centers across the world over the last months, but also because it seems to be long awaited by wide masses of society – a fact once again proven by the last demonstration. Today’s protest in Brussels brought together – according to the estimates of the activists – some ten thousand people from Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, and Poland.

 

The economic crisis will deepen. When it reached the south of Europe, the northern part of the continent tried to fend off its effects. Today, the south is facing an economic default, and the crisis inevitably moves up north. Just as the Outraged who, like a glacier tongue, first fill in every crevice of social life that eroded as a result of injustice generated by representative democracy aligned with capitalism, and then let it crack open under the pressure of hypocrisy, greed, and false philosophy of man turned into capital. Their march has reached Brussels–their destination–but it will go on as its steps to the beat of a drummer named poverty, hunger, humiliation, unfair treatment, and the need for a better world.

 

Brussels, October 15, 2011

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Democracia Real Ya! Photo: Rafal Zurek

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Democracia Real Ya! Photo: Rafal Zurek

SPAIN-ELECTIONS/PROTESTS

Democracia Real Ya!

OLEG VOROTNIKOV: MY WIFE LIVES WITHOUT ANY ID FOR ONE YEAR NOW

Posted on: Dezember 20th, 2011 by PraktikantIn

Oleg Vorotnikov: My wife lives without any ID for one year now.

Oleg Vorotnikov states:

 

My wife and Voina activist Natalya Sokol lives without any ID for one year now. Her passport was confiscated by policemen from the Special Service against Extremism North Western Federal Department. They also confiscated her travel passport, her driver license, her Moscow State University ID as scientific assistant and her health insurance ID.

 

Besides countless minor problems, this means that Natalya cannot get medical care for her two year old son Kasper, because there is no written proof that she is his mother.

 

She cannot vote. On the 4th of December there was a parlament election she couldn't take part in.

 

Her fundamental rights are being violated. To move within the country and even use public transport is impossible for her and her son – IDs are necessary everywhere.

 

The child's benefit for Kasper was also withdrawn.

 

All petitions were rejected by the investigating officer and by the Department of Public Prosecution.

 

The reason given for the rejection of all the petitions: the confiscated documents and objects are of interest for the investigation of criminal case number 276858.

 

Since neither Natalya nor Kasper were officially involved in this criminal case, it seems to be illegal to confiscate their documents, and this confiscation appears to be a form of pressure on the relatives of the accused.”

 

 

Natalya Sokol states:

 

A lawyer petitioned on my request to the investigating officer Mr. Borodavkin for the return of my documents and for the return of benefits for my son Kasper.

 

The petition was rejected (there should be a copy among all the materials of the case at the police).

 

I sent a second petition to the investigator officer Mr. Petrov in early February via regular mail and still haven't got a reply.

 

 

7-berlin-biennale-voina-02

Natalya Sokol and Oleg Vorotnikow. Photo: Thomas Peter

Marina Naprushkina: Protest against death penalty in Belarus

Posted on: Dezember 20th, 2011 by PraktikantIn

Marina Naprushkina: Protest against death penalty in Belarus

 

Artist Marina Naprushkina called for a protest against death penalty in Belarus as well as for the liberation of politicians of the opposition. The demonstration took place on Monday, December 19 on the middle of Pariser Platz in Berlin.

 

Activist Eva Quistorp and polish artist Pawel Althamer supported Naprushkina. Together with street musicians from Berlin Althamer improvised a little musical intervention during the protest.

 

Naprushkina developed a newspaper to inform the participants of the demonstration on issues concerning the political and economical situation of Belarus. Additionally they could ask further questions to the artist.

 

In the evening screenings of interviews with the opposition, which are forbidden in Belarus, have been organized. Parallel the protestors listened to music by a Belarussian Rock-band, also forbidden in Belarus.

 

---

Links:

[1] http://www.berlin24.ru/news/135-miting-okolo-brandenburgskih-vorot-v-berline.html

[2] http://belapan.com/archive/2011/12/20/media_eu_berlin_akzia/

[3] http://euroradio.fm/report/u-berline-prakhodzits-aktsyya-salidarnastsi-z-belarussyu-83722

Demand to end the death penalty in Belarus!

On November 30, 2011, the Supreme Court in Minsk (Belarus) will proclaim their sentence in the law case of the two supposed terrorists Dimitri Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalev (both aged 25). The proclamation of sentence takes place at a time in which the Belarusian democratic opposition faces severe repressions [...]More >

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Assembly to remember the demonstrations in Minsk on December 19, 2010

One year after the defeat of the peaceful demonstration in Minsk, Belarus, a rally will take place at Pariser Platz in Berlin on December 19, 2011. Governing the country since 1994 president Alexander Lukashenko got reelected last [...]More >

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Comments

Posted on: Dezember 15th, 2011 by Denhart von Harling

09.07.2012

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26.06.2012

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25.06.2012

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22.06.2012

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19.06.2012

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16.06.2012

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15.06.2012

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13.06.2012

Draftsmen’s Congress: Painted Man

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12.06.2012

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11.06.2012

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10.06.2012

Indignadxs: reports from Occupy Biennale

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08.06.2012

Rebranding European Muslims

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06.06.2012

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05.06.2012

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04.06.2012

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02.06.2012

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30.05.2012

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27.05.2012

“Peace Wall” by Nada Prlja

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27.05.2012

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25.05.2012

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23.05.2012

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10.05.2012

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Photos from the “Draftsmen’s Congress”

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23.04.2012

“Key of Return” just arrived at KW!

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19.04.2012

“Art in defense of democracy” by Jonas Staal

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16.04.2012

“Happy New Fear #2″ by Bureau Mario Lombardo

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11.04.2012

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29.03.2012

Save Teatro Valle!

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27.03.2012

“OCCUPY UKRAINIAN BODY – FIGHT CENSORSHIP!”

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“OCCUPY UKRAINIAN BODY – FIGHT CENSORSHIP!”

26.03.2012

OCCUPY A MUSEUM NEAR YOU!

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26.03.2012

Petition for Support of the Visual Culture Research Center in Kyiv

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23.03.2012

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20.03.2012

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16.03.2012

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16.03.2012

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16.03.2012

“Berlin-Birkenau” – a photo essay

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“Berlin-Birkenau” – a photo essay

14.03.2012

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09.03.2012

Letter of Support for Visual Culture Research Center

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06.03.2012

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Breaking the News: Ukrainian Body

20.02.2012

Life is abroad – On the dismissal of Sreten Ugričić

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Life is abroad – On the dismissal of Sreten Ugričić

13.02.2012

Daniel Miller in conversation with Martin Zet

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03.02.2012

Statement by Axel Wieder, Pro qm

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26.01.2012

Who abolishes it? – The freedom of thought?

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13.03.2012

Flames in their Heads

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Flames in their Heads

20.01.2012

Statement by Stéphane Bauer, Director, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien

Or why Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien will continue to be a collecting point for the campaign “Deutschland schafft es ab” (Germany gets rid of it), a project by Martin Zet in... More >
Statement by Stéphane Bauer, Director, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien

17.01.2012

Statement by Artur Żmijewski

The campaign by Czech artist Martin Zet to collect as many copies of Thilo Sarrazin’s book »Deutschland schafft sich ab« (Germany Does Away With Itself) as possible has begun. More >
Statement by Artur Żmijewski

17.01.2012

Comment by Chantal Mouffe

I think Martin Zet’s project is a legitimate initiative. He is curious to know what is the opinion of those who bought the book. More >
Comment by Chantal Mouffe

06.01.2012

A Call from Egypt

The 7th Berlin Biennale supports this call that reached us via artist Ganzeer: More >
A Call from Egypt

03.01.2012

The long death of Taisiya Osipova

Another friend of Voina sentenced to 10 years of prison. More >
The long death of Taisiya Osipova

22.12.2011

Making this world ours

This week, together with a group of artists, I have joined the occupation of Beursplein, by way of a collective tent. A report by Jonas Staal. More >
Making this world ours

22.12.2011

The March of the Outraged Will Go On

by Igor Stokfiszewski More >
The March of the Outraged Will Go On

20.12.2011

OLEG VOROTNIKOV: MY WIFE LIVES WITHOUT ANY ID FOR ONE YEAR NOW

»Her passport was confiscated by policemen from the Special Service against Extremism North Western Federal Department.« More >
OLEG VOROTNIKOV: MY WIFE LIVES WITHOUT ANY ID FOR ONE YEAR NOW

15.03.2012

Voina member Pusha on hunger strike in St. Petersburg jail

Voina member and human rights activist Pusha (Philip Kostenko) has been on hunger strike since his arrest on December 6, 2011. Activist Victor Demynanenko, also wrongfully arrested, has joined... More >
Voina member Pusha on hunger strike in St. Petersburg jail

13.03.2012

Protest Against the International Warrant Issued for Natalia Sokol

The 7th Berlin Biennale would like to express its protest against the international warrant issued for Natalia Sokol. More >
Protest Against the International Warrant Issued for Natalia Sokol

15.12.2011

The Outraged Are Among Us

by Marcin Śliwa More >
The Outraged Are Among Us

12.12.2011

On November 30, 2011, two young men were sentenced to death after a show trial in Minsk, Belarus.

There are no proofs that the two 25-year-old men have been involved in the terrorist attack in a Minsk underground station on April 11, 2011. More >
On November 30, 2011, two young men were sentenced to death after a show trial in Minsk, Belarus.

04.12.2011

Leonid Nikolajew from Voina arrested

Leonid Nikolajew from Russian art collective Voina has been arrested on December 4, 2011 at a demonstration against Kremlin - and manged to escape from the police station. More >
Leonid Nikolajew from Voina arrested

28.11.2011

Quotes from an interview with Lonia Jebnięty (engl.: Leo the Fucknut)

An abridged version of the interview »Yes, the Truth is With Us«, which will be published in the first publication of the 7th Berlin Biennale. More >
Quotes from an interview with Lonia Jebnięty (engl.: Leo the Fucknut)

26.11.2011

Universalizing the Exception

A conversation between Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza More >
Universalizing the Exception

26.11.2011

Demand to end the death penalty in Belarus!

The 7th Berlin Biennale supports this call that reached us via artist Marina Naprushkina. More >
Demand to end the death penalty in Belarus!

The Outraged Are Among Us

Posted on: Dezember 15th, 2011 by Denhart von Harling 1 Comment

The Outraged Are Among Us

By Marcin Śliwa

I’m ill and have a fever. I’m at home, following the Outraged, and scheming; for a moment I’m away from the procedures of the everyday. I’m outraged, too. My head, burning with fever, produces a stream of sneezing and revolutionary thought. Yep, something’s definitely going on, and it seems to be something irreversible. You can feel it in the air. Something is going to crack. One thinks about becoming one of the outraged, going out and putting up a tent somewhere. But somehow I’m not sure if that’s a good move, to go chanting with high-school kids about apartments for everyone and evil banks. Somehow I’m not on the side of the left-wing politician Ryszard Kalisz, who went to the protest in his Jaguar. Rather, we should do something “outraged” on our own territory. It seems to me that the Outraged provide a good opportunity to reflect on the analogies between different segments of the system: the global economy and (speculative) capital, and our own world, the world of art and culture.

 

Where are these analogies?

I’m wondering if art sometimes doesn’t act like speculative capital: raging across the world of people, communities, and ideas, at once capricious and premeditated; at times bringing people up to the pedestal, while on other occasions inflating unnatural bubbles, which are first used for profit, then burst, eventually abandoned in order to move on to other sectors. Has our domain also given birth to extra-democratic and extra-ideological centers of power, self-propelled mechanisms for reproducing capital — art? Now, perhaps more than ever, we must be feeling that the answer is yes.

 

One could go further and ask: At what cost? Who pays the price — and what is the price? What is it that we sacrifice on the altar of the system in which we are more or less willingly involved? True, we also use it for ourselves, and for our ideas. That is beyond question. Yet it would be extremely naïve to believe that we have any control over it. Even at this moment, when we seem to be stronger, reinforced by the symbolic capital that allows us to act on a larger scale. What do we forfeit then?  At what cost do “they,” the “evil ones” (or perhaps just the compliant functionaries of the system), multiply profits? How does global capitalism and capital translate into our institutions? Why did the system choose us to serve it, to endorse these credits? What is it that we mortgage and might irretrievably lose? Do we have clear accounts of loss and profit, and did we accept this pact consciously?

Last but not least in this litany of quotation marks is the question of identity: where is the fine line separating us from the “Outraged”? Even if we pay homage to them, support their demands, and invite them into our scene, there’s still SOMETHING. Something worth reflecting on, and specifying, something in the face of which we could write a new program for years and decades to come...

 

A mission is born in my head: to shake the artistic and cultural institutions out of the System using the Outraged’s wave of outrage. Clear analogies will make it easier to target and expose the mechanisms of the system’s self-reproduction, which have grown over time. At the same time, one does not need to erode the power of art as such, as a medium for shaping consciousness and a tool of change. We are fighting against distortions of the system, not the idea itself. A certain dose of self-criticism and self-awareness on the part of people partially complicit in the system, that is ourselves, would make our position more credible. Let us be the Warren Buffetts of art and culture! Let us be multimillionaires calling for taxation! How to belittle oneself to give voice to the lowly?

 

We know what we lose from the everyday struggle with procedures in our institutions, and with art brokers outside them. We know it from the feeling that the system unnoticeably absorbs us, offering various fetishes for the ego, at the same time ruthlessly exposing the limits of our revolt — as one which takes place within it. Somewhere in the course of this struggle, we lose ourselves, we lose our freshness, we burn out and adapt — to the system, naturally. We didn’t even notice when — for some of the public, and perhaps for the Outraged as well — we became the mainstream.

 

We need to write a program for ourselves, people who know the institutions like the back of one’s hand, and who know how much energy is needed for the everyday effort of pursuing a mission, ideas, and goals, something for which the institutions were in fact created. But they rejected it; they have not been ancillary and supplementary for a long time. We also witnessed the coming of a great mass of artists who are effectively using these procedures — commissioned by the system to reproduce hollow works, tenuous hybrids, that are doubly harmful, as they mask an ideological void. Perhaps some of them have already joined the Outraged, or will be with them before long.

 

We therefore need to transform the institutions, and if that doesn’t work, we need to expose them and create our own. We already have some proven ideas about how to do it peacefully, with no scaffolds and no bloodshed. A large number of proceduralists can be shaken out of the matrix and won over to our side. It will be a revelation for many. And it will give us strength and hope, and diminish the risk of burnout. The difference between the Outraged and ourselves is that we are part of the System, even if we have the right to believe that we’re a good kind of force. Let’s put the words “Ideas and goals – not procedures!” into action. Let’s use them as a program for our institutions. Are you in?

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Occupy Wallstreet. Photo: Joanna Warsza, 2011

On November 30, 2011, two young men were sentenced to death after a show trial in Minsk, Belarus.

Posted on: Dezember 12th, 2011 by Denhart von Harling 1 Comment

Demand to end the death penalty in Belarus!

On November 30, 2011, two young men were sentenced to death after a show trial in Minsk, Belarus.

 

There are no proofs that the two 25-year-old men have been involved in the terrorist attack in a Minsk underground station on April 11, 2011. The trial raised more questions than it could provide answers. An elderly man, whose daughter was a victim of the attacks and severly injured, demanded a fair trial in the courtroom. He subsequently was deported to a psychiatric institution with the help of police forces.

 

A democratic society respects human rights and steps up for those basic rights wherever they do not apply. An independent judiciary is crucial and so is the right for everyone to openly tell if they find something is going wrong.

 

But what to do when these rules are not working?

 

Belarus has international enterprises and banks. Gas and oil transported through the country, travels all the way to the EU. Belarus participates in a globalized market economy in many different ways. Decision makers, whether from the field of politics or economy, do not seem to be disturbed by the absence of democratic elements in Belarus. Concerning human rights and democracy they say: The Belarusian people have to free and overpower dictatorship themselves. The so far missing ‘success’ of the people can only be read that they do not take their mission very serious.

 

Ludmila Kovaljewa, mother of one of the two men awaiting death penalty, reports about the policeman’s reaction to the arrest of her son: “You take care of the rest of your family. You still have a daughter”. The mother is told to forget she has a son. One is supposed to forget that there is a right to live if you live in Belarus.

 

What are these show trials for? First of all, they are to scare the people of Belarus.

 

The aim is to show the Belarusian men, that the state has a power over them, the power to sentence them to death. In Belarus women are never put on death penalty by law. They are targeted as mothers and brought in a situation where they are left helpless, frightened and desperate. They have to beg for the lives of their sons.

 

Even after the conviction, Ljudmila Kovaljewa does not voice any criticism of the government. She knows that there is only one single person in the world with the power to decide over her son’s life. There is a slight chance that Lukashenko will pardon her son.

 

The Belarusian people want to voice their opinion about death penalty, even though they know that their protest is worth nothing in the eyes of the government, and that they might be severely punished by this government.

 

For how long will the democratization of Belarusian society be judged from the actions of the government? The Belarusian people have not elected this government, elections held a mere decorative function.

 

For years now, international politics aims to democratize the Belarusian government. Does this not go against the general principles of democracy? And is this kind of commitment not looking for something at a spot where it by definition just cannot be?

 

Everyone who raises the question why the people of Belarus do not rise up against Lukashenko has to face the counter question, how they themselves would act under these conditions, with their own lifes threatened.

 

So are the small attempts of protest in Belarus a sign that this society is not ready for democracy yet? Or isn’t Belarus under present conditions rather a country of heros?

 

Marina Naprushkina

 

 

There is a current petition against death penalty in Belarus, which can be signed here: http://bit.ly/petitionbelarus

 

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Leonid Nikolajew from Voina arrested

Posted on: Dezember 4th, 2011 by Denhart von Harling
7-berlin-biennale-voina-leo

Leonid Nikolajew, Photo: Julia Lisnyak

Leonid Nikolajew from Voina arrested

Leonid Nikolajew (a.k.a. Leo the Fucknut) from Russian art collective Voina has been arrested at a demonstration against Kremlin on December 4, 2011. All in all there have been at least 30 protesters arrested in St. Petersburg and more than 130 in whole Russia.

 

In the morning of December 5 Leonid Nikolajew managed to escape from the police station. Read his report on the arrest and his escape HERE.

 

Artur Żmijewski has appointed the Voina (Oleg Vorotnikov, Natalya Sokol, Leonid Nikolajew, Kasper Nienagliadny Sokol) from Russia and Joanna Warsza from Warsaw as Associate Curators of the 7th Berlin Biennale this week.

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