Tag Archives: Occupy

dOcumenta(13): Doccupy, Picasso in Palestine n Hitler’s bath.

Last month we hit the Black Forest, Germany for the dOCUMENTA(13) press week – major contemporary art fair that only happens every five years –  to see some art and get drunk at the press parties.

First, the parties were really really tres fun – we loved the fact we were allowed to take over Kassel train station to boogie on down to a DJ whilst trains were still truckin in n out, bewildered passengers wading through the crowds with their luggage, dazzled by disco balls. Can you ever  imagine Cameron n co allowing such festivities in St Pancras? Nope, neither can we. We hung out on a platform guzzling wine n talking to lovely artists from Berlin till 3am! Marvellous eve. Other parties worth a mention was the vodka bash in the oldest gothic church in town (and we’re talking the birthplace of fairy stories here – the Grimm bro’s hometown) where we enjoyed cocktails and Pink Floyd style psychedelia on the light display front. All in all, great incentive for starting up a zine. Thank you, Documenta, for all that.


So, we encountered on our first day the increasingly familiar site of  a pop up kinda camp site, right in front of Fridericianum, the main exhibition hall. I said to my colleague, ‘I bet you that’s Occupy’ n he said ‘Nah, it’s just some artistic thing, we’re in the middle of nowhere.’ However, upon approaching the tents n having un petit chat with their residents, my suspicions were confirmed. We were informed that the anti-1% protesters  had made their way from Frankfurt (the biggest Occupy hub in Germany) to Kassel, to make a stand against both the exhibition’corporate sponsorship and general Capital/Merkelism – thus ‘Doccupy.’

In response to the tent town, dOCUMENTA’s Artistic Director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev said “I welcome the ‘doccupy’ movement in Friedrichsplatz, which has grown over the last weeks. It continues the wave of democratic protests that have been spreading across many cities in the world. It enacts the possibility of re-inventing the use of public space and appears to me to be in the spirit of the moment and in the spirit of Joseph Beuys who marked documenta and its history significantly, embodying another idea of collective decision-making and political responsibility through direct democracy.”

In all fairness to dOCUMENTA, it really did incorporate some   powerful political art. We especially enjoyed the ‘Picasso in Palestine,’ whereby a film made by director Rashid Masharawi and Hourani is exhibited, documenting the process of preparing, transporting and exhibiting the work of Picasso to the occupied Palestinian territory (the only ever masterpiece to be displayed here), alongside a drawing after Picasso’s painting by Amjad Ghannam, a prisoner at the time of the painting’s arrival, that was sent to Hourani as a postcard from Glabou Central Prison.

Picasso in Palestine

We were also asked to sign petitions on the second floor of  Fridericianum to make the Earth’s ozone layer part of the ‘National Hertitage,’ thus protecting it from man-made harm. Quite a sensible idea, non?

Another crazy political piece was a photographic series (which we not allowed to photograph) by Man Ray’s lover and muse Lee Miller, who was employed by the American Army JUST after WW2 to photograph the dregs of Nazi Germany. Along with snapping a lot of dead Nazi’s, she took the unbelievable measure of posing naked in Adolf Hitler’s bath. In 1945, the year of the dictator’s death, with her apparent ‘access all areas’ pass, she nipped into his apartment in Munich and got stuck in. Well, if that’s not controversy, I just don’t know what is.

You can see a pic here

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Tent talk: ‘Bryn Phillips and the Big Society’ at OLSX

Despite Boris n the bankers insisting that the Occupy camp is full of useless,  jumped-up ‘crusties’ or over-privileged  gap-year students, we know to the contrary. The camp has been awash with academics, artists and musicians. Yeah, Banksy’s been there, Rage front man made a cameo but, as ever we find ourselves drawn to the more hidden and captivating delights of the counter-culture. Pop band ‘Bryn Phillips and the Big Society’ is one of our all time faves, and even the police couldn’t resist praising our front man as he played on the steps of St Paul’s. We had a lovely natter and vino with Bryn in his little tent RE the band, the OLSX demands issued to the Corporation of the City of London, as well as an Occupy Manifesto.

Regardez the below vid of BP in action

Now, you were very instrumental in writing and ensuring the ratification of these demands of the Corporation of the City of London. What was so significant about these particular requests?
Well, it was really bizarre to discover that the City of London Corporation, first of all, is a local authority. Looking into it, the councilors who are elected are actually voted for by businesses according to the size of their workforce. So the bigger your workforce, the more votes you get in elections and that’s a really unique situation. What it means for the residents who live inside the square mile is that they are constantly out-voted. There are about 9,000 residents in the borough and they are out-voted by quarter of a million workers about issues that affect them as residents which is undemocratic.

The second part is that the City of London, not the local authority, but the actual corporation itself, has a cash fund and they have not, for a thousand years ever released their accounts. They’re using their trade associations – their guilds and ancient liveries as lobbying tools, to lobby government departments. So, effectively The City has a clear conduit of influence within government itself. It is able to reverse decisions made by government when it ought to be following the wishes of the people who elected that government. So we will elect a government and The City’s lobbyists will kneel on that government to make them change their mind and subvert that democratic process, not just as a local authority but as a lobbying organisation that lobbies on behalf of the global financial industries. That’s not democratic. It’s wrong.

The beginning of an Occupy Manifesto? Reads like blimmin Shakespeare.

Is this just a starting point? Will more demands be issued?
I think the demands that were made were eminently reasonable. I think that they hit the city just where it hurts them. We were asking them to submit to the Freedom of Information act, to publish all of their accounts since the financial crash. Now, one thing I can tell you is successive mayoral speeches by the Lord Mayor of the City of London to Prime Ministers and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at The Guildhall [which took place between 2003 and 2009, leading up to the recession and since] have called for less regulation and to alter taxation as well. They’ve called for a lowering of taxation for corporations to suit their own needs and not those of the people. This is surely unconstitutional and wrong.

So what’s this Occupy London Manifesto?
The Occupy Manifesto is a manifesto written by the global Occupy movement. It’s focus is on the way that power has been monopolized by unaccountable global power elites within a corporatist system of governance, which is quite modern and hierarchical.

Now dear, I understand you’ve made some sacrifices in being here..
I took four weeks off from the studio finishing a record that was attracting a lot of attention. But to be honest, I wanted to do it and it’s nice anyway, that instead of writing lyrics I’m here writing manifestos and statements that garner global global attention.

I’m sure you have gained lots of inspiration for new tracks too.
Oh totally, I’ve got some real inspiration for some songs. As ever I shall be focusing on the more negative aspects of society. One song shall actually be entitled ‘New Age Fascist.’ LB!

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War on Want guest post: G20 leaders still not leading

Anti poverty NGO and La Bouche contibuters War on Want campaign for those worse affected by globalization from factories and sweatshops to conflict zones and rural communities.

As the global economy lurches from crisis to crisis, driven by skittish markets, the G20 met recently in Cannes in southern France. The self-appointed group has given itself the task of sorting out the financial crisis, yet despite the severity of the situation they showed themselves to be lacking in new ideas.

At the same time the Occupy movement, taking inspiration from the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, continues to expand in size and symbolism; the breakup of the Zuccotti Park demonstration in New York today is a blatant attempt to stifle a growing movement. It’s clearer than ever that the G20’s ‘business as usual’ approach of cuts and bailouts is not working and so people are coming together to work out new visions of global and local economies that aren’t based on maximising profit for corporations.

The economic problems in Greece and Italy knocked almost everything off the official agenda. However two important tax justice issues, partly due to strong campaigning across the world, now have so much momentum that they had to be discussed.

The first was regulating tax havens. There was a little movement as the meeting listed 11 tax havens that hadn’t delivered on tax transparency and agreed to sign a convention that would allow tax information to be shared amongst them. But there was still far too much reliance on voluntary actions by companies, for example in creating automatic information transfer systems, which if applied rigorously and compulsorily could begin to unravel the secrets of tax havens.

The rest of the G20’s announcements amounted to yet more rhetoric, three years after they first met. David Cameron called for principles to govern tax transparency and anti-corruption, despite so far doing nothing to tackle the UK’s own network of tax havens including the biggest of them all – the City of London.

On the other issue, a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), it became clearer than ever how much the UK government is in thrall to the City. Whereas almost all the rest of the G20 agreed that an FTT is possible and desirable, the UK was increasingly isolated in trying to fight against it.

An FTT – a fraction of a percent tax on financial transactions – would both help rein in the millions of computer-controlled trades that banks do every day which destabilise the global economy, and raise billions of pounds that would destroy the case for cuts in the UK. Yet despite this, the UK government is still listening to banking lobbyists rather than expert advice and common sense.

The G20 has no meaningful plans that address the scale of the problems in the global economy. Radical changes are urgently needed to reassert democracy and stop rising inequality while at home we need to rein in the City and fight the cuts. Tax justice, including creating an FTT and closing tax havens, will go a long way towards achieving this.

The next stage in the fight against the government’s austerity programme, and to return economic policy to the interests of the many not the few, is the trade union strikes on 30 November. Please keep an eye on the War on Want website for more information on events in London and around the country from next week.

For more War on Want/La Bouche articles please visit our website.

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