Rooftops are some of the best places to write on the walls without permission: the tags and pieces can be seen by everyone walking down the street and looking up. That is a matter of fact, and yet… You walk down Manhattan, on your yearly visit. You walk in an attempt to belong to the city if even for an hour or two. Up you look and up you see them: fresh pieces, unfinished pieces, fading pieces on rooftops. Writings on rooftops: illicit aesthetic practices that shape the cities and shape our experiences with and of cities. Colors on cement, writing on the edge, literally.
To drift through Lavapiés, Madrid. The dérive, drifting, as a Situationist practice, is “a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances” (Debord). It involves “ludic-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects” and it is thus not the same as the classic journey or stroll through the city. As a cultural strategy one does not engage in a dérive to run into a fortituous encounter that may trigger the unconscious, as in the case of the Surrealist wandering: as a method, the dérive seeks to produce a subversive relation with everyday life in the capitalist city (Hal Foster et al., 2006: 394). Here leisure time, free time, is understood as the other side of alienated work (394). To drift: attentively looking at, and listening to ,the city walls:
metal and wood sheets, stencils, tags, Continue reading
Graffiti, street practices, and writing with photography in virtual space: production of broken lines: lines of flight and encounters: mise en abyme from Lavapiés, neighborhood in Madrid, the global city. To walk under scaffolds and under them once again: facade of 15 Jesús y María a week later: mutations and the passage between this facade and the other one:
To walk under scaffolds or next to them. To get close to them and to take distance and to get close again. Ephemeral ceilings: firm and trembling and always on the brink of disassembling. To get close and to take distance. To flee. To flee, observed Deleuze in his Dialogues with Claire Parnet, “is not to renounce action: nothing is more active than a flight […] It is also to put to flight–not necessarily others, but to put something to flight, to put a system to flight as one bursts a tube” (36).
Open tubes seen from below in the midst of decay, Continue reading
Come down, go out: walk down the streets of cities. Walking as practice. Thinking of Thoreau, who wrote an essay about Walking in 1850 and another on Civil Disobedience in 1849, philosopher Fréderic Gros notes that walking may teach disobedience: “walking forces us to take a distance which is also a critical distance.”
Graffiti on doors in Barcelona: tags, wheat pastes, stickers. Works of desire: come down to the street, choose a place, be alert. Walk and situate yourself in front of doors: make maps and Continue reading
Bajar, salir: recorrer las calles de ciudades. Andar como práctica. Pensando en Thoreau, que escribió un ensayo sobre el andar (Walking, 1850) y otro sobre la desobediencia civil (Civil Disobedience, 1849), el filósofo Fréderic Gros observa que andar puede enseñar a desobedecer: “andar nos obliga a tomar una distancia que también es una distancia crítica”.
Graffiti en puertas de Barcelona: tags, wheat pastes, pegatinas. Trabajos del deseo: bajar a la calle, escoger la superficie, buscar un sitio, ponerse al lado, estar alerta. Andar y situarte frente a las puertas: hacer mapas y series de Continue reading
Walls that move and open up in Madrid: moving walls: walls by Alto. Autonomous aesthetic practices on public space: a man swimming, bones piling up, cranes flying: painted with aerosol on walls or at ground level. Figures popping out from the walls, transfixed by the noise, smells, and life on the street. ALTO’s figures proliferate in the city and create series that function as “matter ouf of place” (Mary Douglas), occupying unexpected places: in their being “ouf of place” these figures allow a reflection on the borders that configure the social order.
Practices on the street: series in media res that rehearse practices to Continue reading
Paredes que se mueven y se abren en Madrid: muros de Alto. Producción estética autónoma en el espacio público: un hombre nadando, huesos apilándose, grullas volando pintadas en aerosol sobre muros y paredes o a ras del suelo. Figuras brotando de las paredes, transidas por el ruido, los olores, la vida de la calle. Figuras que proliferan por la ciudad y van creando series que funcionan como “materias fuera de lugar” (Mary Douglas) al ocupar lugares no prescritos: en ese estar “fuera de lugar” permiten una reflexión sobre los bordes que configuran el orden social.
Prácticas desde las calles: series en media res que ensayan prácticas con las cuales Continue reading
Forms of intervention in the city, using the street as a platform: Lavapiés, Madrid, January 2016. Wheapastes with white background, displaying a brief biographical note on the left, a black and white photo on the right, and a statement of intent under each photo: in this neighborhood, “to exercise a practice of memory…to introduce and to value” the struggles of those “women, lesbians, and trans who have contributed to destroy power.” This practice is understood as an act of recuperation because the social, political, and cultural struggles and achievements of these women have not been registered in the official history:
Using wheatpastes on the walls, a collective woman subject seeks to produce a circuit of acknowledgement and value for those non-normative lives devoted to freedom. The posters do not bear a signature, so their weight focuses on the message delivered and the choice of place: meeting areas in public space. One of them is the small plaza de Ministriles (2007), a space of Continue reading
Streets of Lavapiés. End of December and the very first day of the year. But it could be any other month. Anarchofeminist slogans sprayed in freehand on the walls of the centric district of Madrid, the global city:
If writings on the wall may be read as gifts, what would be the gifts bestowed by the Mujeres Libres (Free Women) activists upon the inhabitants of the global city in the midst of the social and cultural crisis unleashed by neoliberal policies in the Spanish state? On the one hand, an exercise in historical memory: the name itself, Mujeres Libres, refers to the anarchofeminist organization that articulated from Madrid in the late 1930s a double struggle: against the capitalist state and system, and against patriarchy. An unfinished business.
On the other hand, the writing on the wall by Mujeres Libres and other unsigned writings shown in this post also make present the philosphy and practice of anarchism, its common core despite its many variants: the subversion of the authority of one being over another, and the search for the emancipation of all beings. Partly, what makes contemporary anarchofeminism attractive–in its struggle against systemic patriarchy at the root of the authority of the capitalist state, class divisions, and culture–is that it constitutes (adapting Saul Newman’s vision of anarchism) an ethical critique of authority and domination in all its forms (in Leonard Williams, 2011: 630). In that sense, it may be understood as a philosophy and practice of an “infinite responsibility” of citizens as political subjects to end injustice (Simon Critchley 2007 in Williams, 630); the responsibility to create networks of harmonic coexistence among all live beings on the planet and forms of organization built on dialogue. Hence the urgent demand to leave behind heteronormative patriarchy. These might be the gifts on the walls.