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Open Letter from ‘Wretched of the Earth’ bloc, London, December 2015…

'Wretched of the Earth' bloc at Global Climate March London.

‘Wretched of the Earth’ bloc at Peoples March for Climate Justice and Jobs, November 29, 2015. London, UK.

The Wretched of the Earth are a collective of over a dozen grassroots Indigenous, black and brown organizations representing diaspora from the Global South. Over the past few months, we have fought tooth and nail to lead last weekend’s London climate march alongside Indigenous delegates from frontline communities on their way to the Paris climate summit. We know that our presence was only allowed so the NGOs could comfortably check the ‘diversity’ tick-box. While we knew it would not be an easy space to be in, the violence and hostility we faced on Sunday was worse than we expected.

As Wretched of The Earth speakers fired up the 50,000-strong crowd with a message of decolonization, delivered from a crane above them – another hard-fought-for concession – the march organizers carefully plotted for their animal props to move ahead of us via a side channel. With minutes to go, the mainstream banner suddenly appeared in front of us for the press photos. We stormed forward and unravelled our own banner, only to realize it was a stand-off. They wouldn’t begin the march unless we put our message behind theirs; theft of narrative – in some cases literally, as banners were physically pulled from people’s hands. From that point until the end it was a violent tussle to lead the march.

NGOs summoned the police on our black and brown bodies. Re-read that last sentence. Suggesting that our symbolic coffins – calling out BP and BHP Billington for the blood on their hands – were health and safety hazards, they attempted to remove them. Our placards placing British Imperialism in the framework of Climate Injustice were radioed in to be taken down, as they ‘didn’t fit the message of the day’. They tried to recapture the front of the march by stopping it in the middle of central London and moving their banner back. They then slowed down the rest of the marchers that followed us, effectively separating us off. But we stood our ground, together. We write our own rules.

The NGO narrative appealed to the perpetrators again, asking them to ‘do something’. Their narrative read ‘We do this #ForTheLoveOf Skiing’. Our narrative is one which has a context wide enough to contain the solidarity needed for systemic change. It is one which doesn’t compartmentalize the struggle into climate, racism, migration. It acknowledges that to be truly insurrectional, one must be intersectional.

We held placards and gave speeches that explained clearly that another war in Syria is a war on Mother Earth. That war and corporate climate genocidal mega-development is the main driver behind forced displacement and the migrant ‘crisis’. That the white-hetero-patriarchal-imperial ideology which premises this continued climate colonialism is that which perpetuates racist and patriarchal policing, prisons and austerity in the Global North.

Many of the major NGOs and March organizers went on a self-congratulatory tirade, talking about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’, conveniently forgetting that – whether on the march or in the lead up – it was Avaaz, Greenpeace and cohorts who created obstacles for our communities to lead. Something needs to be made clear: the global climate movement starts at the frontlines of corporate colonialism, in Indigenous territories, where black and brown communities fight back against European-sanctioned climate genocide. And that’s why our placards read ‘We die first, We fight first, We march first’.

‘People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.’ The revolutionary Assata Shakur said it.

We ourselves in the Wretched of the Earth bloc have had to decolonize our minds in order to recognize the shackles on our bodies, in order to recognize the insidious and acute nature of our oppressor. We therefore have a duty to up the ante where the stagnant water of colonialism has trapped the fight for justice from flowing toward freedom. The Climate Movement needed the medicine, and we have the remedy.

‘The white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro, but pretend that they are smiling’. Malcolm X said it. Colonized peoples rising up recognize a forked tongue by necessity. We see the liberal foxes prowling between the ranks of the NGOs, dangling carrots before the people, knowing that the millions in their coffers are not for systemic change, but for their liberal methods of teasing people toward an empty empathy. The behavior of the NGOs – Avaaz at their head – on Sunday showed why climate campaigners need a decolonization treatment.

Now more than ever, we know that not only do we have to fight against climate change and the capitalist-colonialist system which it hails from, we also have to fight against the UK’s whitewashed colonialist climate movement which perpetuates the oppression, erasure and brutality we face daily.

The march organizers, ITV, BBC, all of the echo chambers of the status quo will have you think we weren’t even there. Yet ’Still fighting Co2onialism’, was the banner leading the Britain’s biggest climate march, because we can no longer afford to place the onus on people recycling and expect the polluters to lead us to liberty. Neither the government nor the NGO liberal line will lead us to justice. This is a war of narratives, and ours is decolonial.

This article was amended on December 3, 2015 to better reflect the role of different NGOs in these events.

 

 

Since the NYC artzines haven’t followed up, below is the original manifesto left behind after the action by “9271977″. Also, here are follow-ups from Big Bend Now’s journalist John Daniel Garcia on the March 9th guerrilla action on the Prada Marfa store: March 11 http://bigbendnow.com/2014/03/9271977-makes-contact-with-sentinel-reporter/  ( March 13: http://bigbendnow.com/2014/03/guerilla-artist-stirs-it-up-with-prada-marfa-vandalism/ 

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9271977's guerrilla action at Prada Marfa

Bigger Than The Brand

March 9th 2014, 3:33AM Texas Time.

BIGS UPS Michael Elmgreen, Ingar Dragset, Art Production Fund, Ballroom Marfa and the “Art World” of 2005 for interest towards the lands of West Texas providing a temporary structure as a canvas for a much more suiting to 2014 exhibit. A true collaboration; or appropriation? Perhaps a symbol of decay? Thanks to the land donators for not posting keep out signs. Thanks to TXDOT for deeming Prada Marfa an illegal road side advertisement. This is dedicated to all art makers that inspire artwork to “get out” of the studio, and into the streets.

Spring has Sprung, One for one, Here comes the sun, Lets have some fun!

Nearly nine years since the inauguration of Prada Marfa, an investigative viewer can only assume the structure represents the reflection of a contemporary moment that catering to a society designed to respond to branding, consumption and money. Blended with narcissism and unethical hedonism, this is the society’s apocalyptic theater.

Imagine being an investigative explorer from the future stumbling upon the ruin known as Prada Marfa. Questioning the structure as a place of indigenous commerce pre-apocalypse; later becoming a place of nostalgia and shelter during a time of nomadic travel through the death and dust of a temporary Utopia resistant to reorientation, that would have sustained its future.

The irony of Prada Marfa, it’s fake. Prada Marfa has no representation of Texas and Southwest North America. Prada Marfa is a relic of a Bourgeois not so distant past; serving today’s hyper reality as a blank canvas. Out with the old, in with what’s next.

Today – hipster travelers – the Adams & Eves of now in their hybrids search for the meaning of life, discovery of the unknown and mysterious! Answers to what is art, they GPS their way through the great social check points, updating Facebook and twitter.

Prada Marfa in its past existence served its purpose; but today in 2014 – for better or worse – society has seen advancement in social connectivity, global war, entitlements, corporate austerity, poverty, destruction of nature, desensitization of life, faltering education, sickness, substance and food abuse, exploitation of indigenous nations, corrupt banking systems, gone amuck free market neocapitalism, disharmonious politics and impudent religions… just some stewing ingredients of  Earth colonization.

In the spirit of all of the above moving in is, Save-the-world-through-shoes-company known as TOMS. TOMS Marfa is under fire by the TXDOT as illegal roadside advertising. People are concerned that the life of TOMS Marfa will end. As referenced from “Save Prada Marfa” FB Page: Texas House of Representatives member Poncho Nevarez says this Art installation is vital to the tourism in the greater Big Bend Area. TOMS owner (and Texas Native) Blake Mycoskie agrees and insists TOMS Marfa is not an advertising tool, nor is it a prop to exploit the people of developing nations facing extinction.  Simultaneously in the United States, at large education systems are facing cuts, ethical fundamentals are at a loss with apparent signs of social inequality. All the while Mycoskie focuses his attention in developing nations, though not to alleviate poverty through the company’s estimated 250 million in sales for 2013, as reported by Fast Company. TOMS shoes has been under scrutiny for its business model. Referring from a 2013 article by Adriana Herrera of the New York Times, she states, “The root cause of poverty in many developing countries is a lack of access to fair-paying, sustainable employment. Imagine the positive impact TOMS could have if it were to use every decision in its supply chain to address the causes of poverty. Sebastian Fries of Toms, responded that TOMS is not in the business of poverty alleviation.”

·         TOMS are currently produced in China, Ethiopia and Argentina.

·         TOMS have been accused of favoring evangelical groups as giving partners.

·       Haiti with roughly a population of 10 million, of which 77% live in absolute poverty, equating to less than two dollars a day US. TOMS is set to open a factory there in 2015, employing only fifty people.

·         It is said TOMS should view the fair trade, bio material business model of SoleRebels.

·        Time magazine has recognized that charitable gifts from abroad can distort developing markets and undermine local businesses by creating an entirely unsustainable aid-based economy.

Nationally, TOMS has done well by promoting its brand through social media and college campus networks. Yet through the years TOMS has drawn away from its locally owned businesses giving major attention towards large corporate retail locations such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, essentially putting small community based businesses out in the cold due to volume based contracts and discrepancy based return policies that favor a much more powerful buyers. Small community based retailers are left with shoes that can’t be returned, previous year styles and limited selections. All which do nothing to support a local economy. In a disclosed interview, a local retailer confessed a story of being shipped “new” TOMS that carried the Neiman Marcus store label, when TOMS has been quite strict about their NO return policy.

Mycoskie whom lives in Los Angeles amongst the aristocrats, stars and ever so ever drought (both in water and spirit) hopes that TOMS Marfa  will bring greater inspiration to consumer Americans to give all they have to developing nations that suffer disease, starvation and corruption. It’s nearly impossible to clean up the effects of colonization; the many centuries of rape, slavery, pilferage, death, suffering, manipulation and occupation. Americans should feel guilt in their lifestyle as they are a direct product of all the past. As well Mycoskie wants all Americans and World to know the good and love in the hearts given by the people of Texas and Christian faith. Under the saving grace and salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the full Globe can be brought to a new day of love and surrender. So long as you buy TOMS shoes, and endorse Christ as your savior, welcoming the “white” him into your heart. So help you God, otherwise you’re damned to hell.

This life evangelist and art activist says, quoting from a wise woman that resides in Texas. “Creativity is the salvation of mankind.” Keyword: Creativity. I couldn’t agree more. So suggestive and subjective. Through this installation, really take the time to open up and examine yourself. Examine where you came from, your ideas of community, wealth and sharing. Examine health, locality, nurturing the youth, education, intellect and both the ideas of developing and advanced nations. Examine the blueprint of life and the impact you have on that. Examine nature, become it. And think – find that love – feel… and ask yourself; how do I truly make the world a better place and provide stewardship to this Planet we call Earth? Perhaps then discovering the God in you, the Universe, Cosmo, the unraveling of time, DNA, and what brought you here to this heaven in the first place; a transformative state, the magic of life will begin.

Welcome to your APOCALYPSE?

 http://9271977.com/biggerthanthebrand

Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot Collective Open Statement Release, Feb 6, 2014
(English version via Global RevolutionOriginal Russian version here)

We, the anonymous participants of Pussy Riot, would like to say a huge thank you to all who supported us during this time, those who demanded the release of our participants, those who sympathized with us and share our ideology. We are very grateful to you all, we deeply appreciate and have respect of everyone who contributed to the overall support of the collective of Pussy Riot in this difficult period of time for us.

And our efforts were not in vain: Putin still had to bend to the pressure of international public opinion and give freedom to Nadya and Masha.

So, on 23 of December was for us a real treat — Liberation Day of prisoners of conscience and the victory of the freedom of the entire collective of Pussy Riot.

But Amnesty is certainly not the limit of our dreams. We demand justice – the complete abolition of the sentence and the recognition of the illegal case against Pussy Riot. And we hope that the restoration of justice happens February 21 – the anniversary of our fervent words stated inside the CCS with the song “Dear Mary, Mother of God, Chase Putin Away, Banish Him!”.

We are very excited about the release of Masha and Nadya. We are proud of their resistance against the harsh trials that they endured, their determination by all means and continuation of struggle began during their stay in the colonies.

Unfortunately for us, they are so deeply involved with the problems in Russian prisons, they seemed to completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group: feminism, separatist resistance struggle against authoritarianism and the cult of personality, because they have faced this unjust punishment.

It’s no secret that Masha and Nadya have left the group, and will no longer be joining in on actions. Now they are engaged in a new project. Now they are protecting the rights of prisoners.

And as many of you know, human rights is incompatible with radical political statements and provocative art-works that raises the conflict topics in contemporary society. As well as, gender conformity is not compatible with radical feminism.

Human rights work cannot afford to be in a spotlight of criticism under rules and regulations that underlie the modern devices of a patriarchal society, because it is an institutional part of society and may not go beyond the established rules within.

Yes we lost two friends, two ideological fellow members, but the world has acquired two brave, interesting, controversial human rights defenders – fighters for the rights of prisoners in Russian prisons.

Unfortunately, we can not congratulate them with this event in person because they refuse to have any contact with us in our World. But we look on at their choice and sincerely wish them success in their new endeavors.

At the moment we are seeing an outrageous conflict for us also:
on the one hand Nadya and Masha now have huge media attention and attention of the international community, they can give their public opinion at press conference to a crowd of journalists, people hear each word, but so far no one hears them and what they say.

In almost every interview they repeat that they have left the group, they no longer represent Pussy Riot, and are acting on their own behalf and that they would no longer pursue provocative art actions etc. But article headlines so far appear with the name of the group, all of their public appearances announces them as Pussy Riot and announcements of withdrawal by them is interpreted as termination of the activities of the entire group of Pussy Riot, ignoring the fact that at the pulpit and solea there were not two but five women wearing Balaclavas and at the initial meeting was our full participants of eight.

The conclusions of misunderstandings was the announcement of their acceptance speech for Amnesty International as the first legal performance of Pussy Riot in a concert at the Barklay Center in New York, which in itself is simply outrageous, after all, everyone knows that Pussy Riot never speaks at legal concert venues, with a preliminary advertisement of appearance.

In addition, on the Billboard of the event, instead of the names of Nadya and Masha was an image of a man in a balaclava with and electric guitar and under the inscription Pussy Riot and organizers cleverly advertised for people to buy expensive tickets.

All this is contrary to the principles of the Pussy Riot:
*We are a women’s separatist group, so a man can not be representative of on a Billboard or in real life;
*We are left anti-capitalist ideology and therefore we never take money for views of works, all performance clips are distributed free of charge on the Internet and audience performances are always done by seemingly random people and more importantly, we do not sell tickets to a “show”.
*Only illegal irregular appearances and performances in unexpected places, not at expected and intended for actions in public places and share pieces and clips of actions – on open public sources.

We are anonymous because we oppose the cult of personality, against the emerging hierarchy, including on the grounds of external data, age or other social characteristics. We cover our faces because we are against the use of a woman’s face as a brand for the promotion of any goods or services.

Combining the image of a protest feminist punk band and law-abiding defenders spoils the image both for us and the new role of Nadya and Masha.

So hear them finally!

Please treat them with respect for their choice.

Since we now find ourselves with Nadya and Masha on opposite sides, disconnect us. Remember, we’re not Nadya and Masha, they are no longer Pussy Riot.

The Collective, “Free Pussy Riot” has ended and now we, as a collective provocative artist group, have the ethical right to preserve art practice, name and visual identity apart from other organizations.

Anonymous Pussy Riot:
Cat, Garaja, Fara, Puck, Seraph and Shumaker”
Blog of the feminist punk band PUSSY RIOT: February 6th, 2014, posted 02:59 am

To Recapture The Dream by Julius Lester 1969

“We Must not mistake an organization, a gun, or even an ideology for a revolution. They are only a means towards it. Revolution is first and foremost a question of morality, a question of values, a question of the inner life of people.” - Julius Lester, “To Recapture The Dream,”.Liberation AugSep1969, pp26-30

Letter from OWS Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies Group posted on Embros website along with others like Raoul Vaneigem and Jenny Marketou. It goes without saying that any government that seeks to criminalize and arrest artist along with members from the supporting community is a government that should be declared illegal and it’s acts of repression should be condemned. For culture is the one thing in life that requires nothing and gives everything. And perhaps this is one of the most threatening aspect of art which governments seek to crush within its citizen.  Furthermore it is through cultural platforms like Embros that the people and culture will persist in this transitional anti-capitalist period of Athenian history as well as in other parts of the world…

 

Letter in Support of Embros  from Arts & Labor Alternative Economies
November 12, 2013, New York

We stand in solidarity with the Embros Theater community and condemn the persecution of the two performers arrested for rehearsing in the theater on October 31, 2013.  All charges brought against these individuals should be dropped and their court cases should be dismissed. [1]

Artists Against The Police State

The work that is currently being done at Embros embodies some of the most fundamental aspects of fostering a creative and responsive cultural space in which alternatives to the current system can be explored [2]. In this time of urgency and economic crisis around the world, Embros is forging new directions that should be enthusiastically supported and celebrated by the local and national government rather than aggressively repressed and threatened.

Culture is a basic sign of being alive, a space of reflection and growth, and most importantly it is the place where the processes that define democracy such as freedom of speech,  expression, and criticality, is apparent in more ways than a set of law books can ever describe. Governments from Russia to China, United States and Europe [3] seek to crush within its citizens the freedom of cultural expression. It has become apparent that the democratic, life-expressing aspects of art are being systematically repressed and commodified into pure spectacle and entertainment by these governments, institutional bureaucrats, and their capitalist cohorts. We will not stand-by as they reduce culture to an admission fee, VIP bonus, or something you can buy at the gift shop. We wish to dance, to perform, to visualize, to speak, all without being restricted by the amount of money we have or the so-called credentials and permits that these institutions have invented. Because for us, this is true freedom, this is true a democracy that no currency can equate.

Embros helps to provide much needed free and open community space that brings people from all walks of life together to learn, engage, and create. Therefore, we ask artists and communities around the world to look closely and continue to follow these events as you would a canary in a coal mine, so that we may provide support for artists and cultural spaces when similar events that arise. Furthermore, these instances should provide a lens to reflect on the situation in our cities and to better understand the mechanisms of cultural control, repression, cooptation, and exploitation so that we can continue, through this solidarity network, to expose and ultimately overcome this political, economic, and cultural crises that has become the marker of our times.

Arts and Labor Alternative Economies
Maria Juliana Byck, Emily Baierl, Antonio Serna and Laurel Ptak
www.whatdowedonow.info
www.artsandlabor.org/alternative-economies

[ photo above: Arts & Labor March in Solidarity with Quebec Students (March Against Anti-Protest Laws) and Protesting the Arrest of Takeshi Miyakawa (‘I (heart) NY’ light artist) May 22, 2012. Photo by: Stacy Lanyon]

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[1] Communique from Embros on the Arrest of 2 performers. October 30, 2013
www.embrostheater.blogspot.gr/2013/10/blog-post_31.html

[2] On October 19, 2013, as part of ‘What Do We Do Now?’ the first annual Alternatives Fair in New York City, we invited members of Embros Theater to participate in an international panel on autonomous spaces along with members from other autonomous spaces in Mexico. Through this panel we hoped to learn how autonomously run cultural spaces function to provide a more horizontal way to operate while remaining inclusive to all members in the community. From this exchange we learned how Embros’ organizing by way of a weekly general assembly has become a dynamic and invaluable community-run space in which creativity and innovation is encouraged to thrive.

‘What Do We Do Now? Alternative Fair’ was organized by Alternative Economies, a subgroup of OWS Arts and Labor. Alternative Economies working group explores alternative methods of sustaining the livelihood of artists, art-workers, and other communities interested in alternatives to the current system. We view the concept of labor through the lenses of time, choice, and value, and we research the ways that ideas like the commons, solidarity economies, precarious worker centers, and participatory budgeting can nurture more sustainable art worlds. Believing that vibrant creative communities come from the bottom up, we encourage relationships based on mutual aid rather than competition, and we advocate for cultural institutions rooted in a framework of social, economic, and environmental justice.

[3] Links to similar crack down on autonomous cultural spaces and artists:
- ZAM is Culture, Eviction of ZAM by Milan Police, May 2013
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/05/zam-e-cultura/
-Footage of Police Eviction of ZAM w/ minute by minute account, May 2013
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/05/zona-autonoma-milano-eviction-today
- Missing Pussy Riot Inmate Turns Up at a Tuberculosis Hospital, Nov 14, 2013
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/missing-pussy-riot-inmate-turns-up-at-a-tuberculosis-hospital-20131114
- Extreme show of force by of Swiss police at Basel, May 2013
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/06/artists-activists-make-art-come-alive
- “Art Makes Money” Communique from ‘Basel Will Be Occupied’ after the Art Basel raid:
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2013/06/communique-art-makes-money
-NY Police Arrest of artist in Brooklyn for Decorating the Street  “I (heart)nyc” bags, May 2012
http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2012/05/ny-goes-hard-on-street-art/

SoulsBeenSoldAgain-BlackEmergencyCulturalCoalition-1969

 

Flyer produced by The Black Emergency Cultural Coalition 1969. Previously on November 17, 1968,  a protest was initiated as this exhibition was being planned [1]. This flyer appears to be calling for the boycott of the actual preview of the show.

The Black Emergency Cultural Coalition had about 15+ years of art and activism and still not one book (1968-1984). We will be uploading more of this history as we come across it.  Stay turned!   & any information about BECC appreciated, email x(at)vizkult(dot) org .

Continue reading…

The Statement of Autonomy is perhaps the most overlooked statement by the NYC General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street. So many good points in there that we had to put it up and bring it to light again as the 2nd year anniversary approaches. n.b. the video below is a completely autonomous project not brought before the general assembly, at least not to my knowledge ;)

 

Occupy Wall Street Statement of Autonomy (video)

 

STATEMENT OF AUTONOMY

Passed by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street. November 10, 2011
and passed revision by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street, March 3, 2012

Occupy Wall Street is a people’s movement. It is party-less, leaderless, by the people and for the people. It is not a business, a political party, an advertising campaign or a brand. It is not for sale.

We welcome all, who, in good faith, petition for a redress of grievances through non-violence. We provide a forum for peaceful assembly of individuals to engage in participatory democracy. We welcome dissent.

Any statement or declaration not released through the General Assembly and made public online at www.nycga.net should be considered independent of Occupy Wall Street.

We wish to clarify that Occupy Wall Street is not and never has been affiliated with any established political party, candidate or organization. Our only affiliation is with the people.

The people who are working together to create this movement are its sole and mutual caretakers. If you have chosen to devote resources to building this movement, especially your time and labor, then it is yours.

Any organization is welcome to support us with the knowledge that doing so will mean questioning your own institutional frameworks of work and hierarchy and integrating our principles into your modes of action.

SPEAK WITH US, NOT FOR US.

Occupy Wall Street values collective resources, dignity, integrity and autonomy above money. We have not made endorsements. All donations are accepted anonymously and are transparently allocated via consensus by the General Assembly or the Operational Spokes Council.

We acknowledge the existence of professional activists who work to make our world a better place. If you are representing, or being compensated by an independent source while participating in our process, please disclose your affiliation at the outset. Those seeking to capitalize on this movement or undermine it by appropriating its message or symbols are not a part of Occupy Wall Street.