Lessons From the Street: Double Vision

In freehand style and crayons in several colors: graffiti and strabismic vision: a fish of small dimensions and sharp teeth: pirahnas swimming several walls in Madrid:

redesycalles pira 2

Visions:  Nebeneinander: operations by contiguity: lessons in semantics:  Piraña: “3. f. Perú: young street kids who are pickpockets / 4. f. and m. C. Rica, Cuba y Nic. Greedy person.”  Depredation and voraciousness. Heterogeneous meanings and visions.  Strabismus:  “a condition that interferes with binocular vision because it prevents a person from directing both eyes simultaneously towards the same fixation point.”  Lessons from the street:  double register: Continue reading


Seen From the M-30

In the front passenger seat, going at 55 miles per hour on the Madrid M-30 motorway, she turns her head to the right. At eye level, a number of graffiti by Siar, Piojo (Chusky), and other Madrid writers zip by on the side walls. Graffiti on motorways and freeways: certainly size and the use of a single color, usually white, are some of the conditions of possibility to be perceived by the fleeting glance of subjects in transit.  She looks up to the towers behind the graffiti: the so called Cuatro Torres Business Area (CTBA), Madrid’s and Spain’s tallest buildings.  The CTBA are highlighted by the researchers of Observatorio Metropolitano as an example of the “colonization of Madrid’s territory” (Manifiesto por Madrid. Crítica y crisis del modelo metropolitano, 2009: 54).

redesycalles 9388 rtSiar, Piojo (Chusky).  In the background : “Cuatro Torres Business Center”.

The CTBA: “A happy expansion of Madrid’s skyline with four big skyscrapers, which are the social headquarters of large corporations and the pride of the city’s new global identity. In the presence of this new postcard image for Madrid (no longer needing the “bulls and flamencas from the Ventas bullring”), few of us should remember that this business district was built, thanks to a strange change of land use, on the former sports facilities housing the Real Madrid.  A trivial amendment (from non-residential use to tertiary for-profit use), which came however with a re-valuation of the land, and with substantial surpluses which allowed to settle the historical debt of the soccer club” (rough translation from Observatorio Metropolitano, 2009: 55).

Graffiti on motorways and freeways: nomad space: “nomad space is smooth, marked only by ‘traits’ that are effaced and displaced with the trajectory […] the nomad is one who does not depart, does not want to depart, who clings to the smooth space left by the receding forest, where the steppe or the desert advances, and who invents nomadism as a response to this challenge” (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Platteus, 2004: 420).  Graffiti on freeways: an other way to understand and relate to Madrid’s territory.

redesycalles IMG_9387Siar.

redesycalles IMG_9386Siar and Piojo.

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redesycalles IMG_9382Madrid, M-30, 28 de octubre de 2014.

To see more pieces by Siar, visit this seccion on Madrink in tumblr and this review of La Charku #7 (2011) in Goodfellas Magazine.

To see other pieces by  Chusky, check out these posts by Vandal Voyeur: “A little bit of Chusky” and “Chusky has left the building“, among others.  Or by Blog Sabbath: “Hokus focus:  Chusky“.

Peeling Walls, Writing Walls: Unmaking the Face

Walking the city, walking in the streets.  She leaves the house to take a walk, passing by the recycling center, passing by the lot in the corner. Walking in the streets as means and milieu. Open to the street, she walks toward the walls:  erosion:  peeling walls.

redesycalles IMG_7255        redesycalles IMG_7542

Walls opening up: boiling walls: a kind of writing.  Writing, suggested Deleuze,  “has no other end than to lose one’s face, to jump over or pierce though the wall, to plane down the wall patiently” (45).  He explains: “There is a  whole social system which might be called the white wall/black hole system.  We are always pinned against the wall of dominant significations, we are always sunk in the hole of our subjectivity […] A wall on which are inscribed all the objective determinations which fix us, put us into a grille, identify us and make us recognized” (45).  White wall system: an education of desire.


Spanish painter and illustrator Pincho painted a wall with houses forming a monstruous pile at Muros Tabacalera in Madrid and then the houses took a life of their own, proliferating on the streets of Lavapiés and El Rastro.  In the Madrid of the construction-and-housing-boom (1997-2007) and in the Spain of the more than 3.4m vacant homes (according to the Spanish 2011 census), Pincho’s wandering houses turn into questions about desire.

White wall system of Spain.  Home ownership as the axis of the economy and mechanism of social control:  “el hombre, cuando no tiene hogar, se apodera de la calle / When man does not have a home, he takes over the streets” (Franco’s Minister for Housing, J.L. Arrese, 1957, in Naredo).  The culture of home ownership (Naredo) that began under the dictatorship’s totalitarian state and unfolded vigorously under the totalitarianism of the neoliberal market under the democracy of Maastricht and the Euro.  The construction and development cycle.   A “record-breaking expansion of credit supported a historic increase in household consumption among the property-owning strata, which, in Spain’s case, constituted the vast majority” (López and Rodríguez 11).  The debt economy, has demonstrated Lazzarato (2012), is, not so much an economic, but a political construction:  the relation between creditor(s) and debtor is the  social relation in neoliberal socities.   Capital accumulation and production of subjectivities:  Homo debitum.   Fear and subjection.  “[T]hey do it all for a  salary (says Dorda, for a little meager salary”  (Piglia).

Peeling walls, boiling walls.  “The face is a social production […] our societies need to produce a face,” contended Deleuze, and went on to ask:  “how to unmake the face by liberating in ourselves the questing heads which trace the lines of becoming?” (45-46).

redesycalles COKO_RTFront wall at the Centro de Ocio Kreativo Okupado La Kondenada in Tetuán.  May 2014.

Written wall, intervened wall.  “The wall was stationary, but all its lines were seething and its surface was as changeable as that of the flooding summer rivers which have similar crests near the center, where the currents flow the swiftest and is the most terrifying”  (Arguedas 7).   A flowing wall, a writing wall, and the unmaking of the face:  the praxis of Juventud Sin Futuro (Youth Without a Future), the PAH (the Mortgage-Affected-Citizens Platform), and of so many others, is writing.  Writing, suggest Deleuze and Guattari,  “has nothing to do with signifying.  It has to do with surveying, mapping,  even realms that are  yet to come” (4-5).



Arguedas, José María.  Deep Rivers.  Trans. Frances H. Barraclough.  Long Grove: Waveland Press, 2002. Print.

Deleuze, Gilles and Claire Parnet.  Dialogues.  Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam.  NY: Columbia UP, 1977.  Print.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari.  A Thousand Plateaus.  Trans. Brian Massumi.  Minneapolis and London: U of Minnesota P,   1987.  Print.

Lazzarato, Maurizio.  The Making of the Indebted Man. Essay on the Neoliberal Condition.  Trans. Joshua D. Jordan.  Cambridge:  MIT Press, 2012.  Print.

López, Isidro and Emmanuel Rodríguez.  “The Spanish Model.”  New Left Review  69 (2011): 5-28.  Print.

Naredo, José Manuel.  “El modelo inmobiliario español y sus consecuencias.” Coloquio sobre urbanismo, democracia y mercado. Université de Paris 12, Paris.  15-16 March 2010.  Paper. Web.

Piglia, Ricardo.  Money to Burn.  Trans. Amanda Hopkinson.  London:  Granta, 2003.  Print.

Recoger las flores vivas

Flores sin raíces, flores de aerosol en las calles de Madrid, ciudad global.  Ciudad global: “¿Cómo no convertir la ciudad en un gran monopoly plagado de ambiciosas obras públicas, aunque sean de dudosa utilidad socioeconómica […]?”:  ciudad global, ciudad dual:  se genera, en un extremo, la global class:  en el otro, “una enorme masa laboral precarizada y pagada de forma miserable” (Observatorio Metropolitano: Manifiesto por Madrid, 2010).  Ladrillo, cemento, gris, desigualdad.  Te encuentras con flores errantes, repentinas, que emergen a través de las paredes, las puertas, las ventanas.  “Partir, evadirse, es trazar una línea […] hacer que algo huya, hacer huir un sistema, como se agujerea un tubo” (Gilles Deleuze, Diálogos con Claire Parnet. Valencia: Pre-Textos, 1980. 45).  Lectura de verano:  en su Contribución a la crítica de la filosofía del derecho  (1844) el joven Marx escribió lo siguiente, refiriéndose a la cadena de la religión, pero de relevancia a otras doctrinas, como la económica: “la crítica le ha quitado a la cadena sus flores imaginarias,  no para que el hombre la lleve sin fantasía ni consuelo, sino para que arroje la cadena y recoja las flores vivas” (traducción adaptada).

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Flores de Dingo Perro Mudo en las calles de Madrid: La Latina, 21 junio 2014; detalles de su mural enMuros Tabacalera, 1 junio 2014; El Rastro, 1 junio 2014.

Para ver más flores y plantas de ciudad de Dingo Perro Mudo, entra aquí: a, b, c, d, e, f, g.

Plucking the Living Flowers

Rootless flowers, aerosol flowers on the streets of Madrid, the global city.  The global city:  Madrid turned into a big Monopoly with ambitious public works of dubious socio-economic usefulness:  the dual city:  the rise of a global class:  and of a growing precarious workforce with miserable salaries at its service (Observatorio Metropolitano: Manifiesto por Madrid, 2010).  Brick, cement, gray, inequality.  You run into errant, sudden flowers popping out through walls, doors, windows.  “To leave, to escape, is to trace a line […] to put something to flight, to put a system to flight as one burst a tube” (Gilles Deleuze, Dialogues II: 36).  Summer reading:  in A Contribution to the Critique of  Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1844) young Karl Marx wrote the following, referring to the chains of religion, yet relevant to any doctrine, economic and otherwise:  “Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flowers.”

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Flowers by Dingo Perro Mudo on the streets of Madrid: La Latina, 21 June 2014; details from his mural at Muros Tabacalera, 1 June 2014; El Rastro, 1 June 2014.

To see more city flowers and plants by Dingo Perro Mudo, click here: a, b, c, d, e, f, g.


En un país harto de los escándalos de corrupción que se destapan prácticamente a diario y cuyos ciudadanos están siendo progresivamente desposeídos de derechos sociales y servicios básicos por medidas de austeridad neoliberal que fracasaron en América Latina durante las décadas de 1980s y 1990s, incrementando la desigualdad, no sorprende que el verbo robar haya sido movilizado por las ciudadanas cuando toman las calles para protestar lo que David Harvey llama acumulación por desposesión.

Por mencionar unos pocos ejemplos entre muchos otros, en las por lo menos 17 manifestaciones que tuvieron lugar en  2011, incluyendo el 15M, robar  fue hecho visible en las calles del estado español en carteles que iban desde el imperativo moral del “No robarás” al coloquial “No hay pan para tanto chorizo”:

redesycalles 19_junio__2011_no_robaras“No robarás.” Manifestación contra el Pacto del Euro y recortes en servicios sociales. Madrid, 19 junio 2011.

MADRILONIA No-hay-pan-para-tanto-chorizo “No  hay pan para tanto chorizo.” Foto: Madrilonia CC BY-NC-SA. Mayo 2011.

Marta_Farrás_DragoFoto: Marta Ferrás Drago. CC BY-NC-SA. Barcelona, 21 Mayo 2011.

Al año siguiente “No hay pan para tanto chorizo” apareció también en el mural “Las calles siguen siendo nuestras” (14m x 4m) del artista urbano Astro Naut en las afueras de Madrid:

Astro_NautFoto: Astro Naut CC BY-NC-ND.  May 2012. El lema está a la izquierda.

Un año más tarde, el lema llegó hasta The Economist , que el 9 de febrero de 2013 lo usó para explicarle a sus lectores el escándalo de corrupción conocido como caso Bárcenas, en referencia al ex-tesorero del Partido Popular.

Robar ocupó también un lugar prominente en el Manifiesto de las Marchas de la Dignidad 22M que convergieron en Madrid en marzo de 2014 contra el desempleo, la precariedad, los recortes y la represión.  La voz colectiva del Manifiesto denunció a la Troika y al gobierno por “el robo de derechos y el empobrecimiento generalizado de la mayoría social” mientras “privatizan lo rentable” (Manifiesto.)

Robar  también está presente en esta pintada que me encontré en la calle Pizarro en Madrid el 31 de mayo de 2014:


El lema “COPIAR NO ROBAR” en letras de molde recuerda el infame castigo del   “copia/escribe 100 veces” de las escuelas victorianas en las que se les ordenaba a los niños copiar la misma frase un número determinado de veces “a ver si te lo aprendes de una vez”. La pintada puede leerse como una advertencia irónica de los ciudadanos a las intituciones e individuos involucrados en las tramas de fraude y corrupción que se destapan casi a diario.

El “COPIAR NO ROBAR” en la pared parece haber sido intervenido por alguien que escribió “es” en letras cursivas en la esquina derecha de la tercera línea, alterando discretamente la oración, transformándola en “COPIAR NO es ROBAR”, haciendo eco del “Copying Is Not Theft” minute meme de Nina Paley y QuestionCopyright.org.  Como tal vez recuerdas, el meme de un minuto que se hizo viral busca re-enmarcar la manera en que la gente piensa sobre los derechos de autor y educar  al público en general  “about the benefits of copying throughout history” (“sobre los beneficios de la copia a través de la historia”).   Parte del meme reza “stealing a thing leaves one less left, copying it makes one thing more” (robar una cosa deja una menos, copiarla hace una más).

“Copiar no es robar” fue movilizado también por los activistas, profesionales y usuarios de la red en España en su larga y fiera oposición a la Ley Sinde, aprobada en diciembre de 2011, que busca combatir la piratería en internet, pero que, de acuerdo a abogados y activistas de la red, amenaza la libertad de expresión y los derechos de privacidad de los usuarios. Una de las ideas que articularon la campaña “Si es legal, es legal”, contra la ley Sinde, organizada por FACUA-Consumidores en Acción en 2011 fue que “el intercambio no lucrativo de obras culturales ha sido siempre una práctica social y moralmente aceptada“.

copiar_no_es_robar3_thumbImagen:  damoslacara.net CC BY-SA

Los sentidos de “COPIAR NO es ROBAR” en la Calle Pizarro resuenan con los de “COPIAR NO ROBAR” ya que las paseantes y viandantes son invitadas/os a considerar que el cercamiento, apropiación y mercantilización de los recursos públicos por los mecanismos de la acumulación por desposesión no se limitan a los recursos “materiales” sino que se extienden a la mercantilización de ideas y del conocimiento. El ámbito de esa apropiación es lo que está en juego en el proyecto de la nueva Ley de Propiedad Intelectual, presentado al Congreso el 14 de febrero de 2014, que reformaría la ley Sinde, haciéndola más restrictiva.   Dado este contexto, la movilización del verbo robar por parte de las ciudadanas en las calles del estado español postulan preguntas sobre el tipo de sociedad que queremos construir y en la que queremos vivir, y cómo organizarnos para hacerla realidad.

“Copiar No (es) Robar” / “Copy: Do Not Steal –> Copying Is Not Theft”

In a country disgusted by endless corruption scandals and whose citizens are being progressively dispossessed of social rights and basic services by neoliberal austerity measures that failed in Latin America during the 1980s and 1990s and proved to boost inequality, it is hardly surprising that the verb robar–to steal, to rob–has been mobilized by citizens when taking to the streets to protest what David Harvey calls accumulation by dispossession.

To mention just a few examples of many many more, in the at least 17 demonstrations that took place in  2011, including 15M, robar  was made visible on the streets throughout the Spanish state on signs that ranged from the moral imperative of “No robarás” (“Thou Shall Not Steal”) to the colloquial “No hay pan para tanto chorizo”–  literally, “there isn’t enough bread for so many chorizos,” chorizo being a Spanish sausage sliced for sandwiches and also slang for swindler:

redesycalles 19_junio__2011_no_robaras“No robarás.” Demostration against the Euro Pact and cuts in social services. Madrid, 19 June 2011.

MADRILONIA No-hay-pan-para-tanto-chorizo “No  hay pan para tanto chorizo.” Photo: Madrilonia CC BY-NC-SA. May 2011.

Marta_Farrás_DragoPhoto: Marta Ferrás Drago. CC BY-NC-SA. Barcelona, 21 May 2011.

The following year, “No hay pan para tanto chorizo” was also present in the large mural “Las calles siguen siendo nuestras” (“The streets still belong to us”) (14m x 4m) by street artist Astro Naut in the outskirts of Madrid:

Astro_NautPhoto: Astro Naut CC BY-NC-ND.  May 2012. Slogan on far left side.

A year later, the slogan even made it to The Economist on February 9th,  2013, to explain to its readers the Bárcenas corruption scandal.

Robar also occupied a prominent place in the Manifesto of the Marches of Dignity 22M in March of 2014 against unemployment, precariousness, budget cuts, and repression: the collective voice declared that while there are more than 6 million people unemployed and without paid work and more than a million people living below the poverty line, the government “continues with its cuts, destroying and robbing the health system, education, culture, pensions […] privatizing anything that’s profitable” (Manifesto.)

Robar is also present in this fading writing on a  wall I came across on May 31st, 2014, on Calle Pizarro in Madrid:


The “COPIAR NO ROBAR” (loosely, “COPY/WRITE DOWN DO NOT STEAL”) line in block letters brings to  mind the infamous “write it 100 times or more” punishment in Victorian schools where kids were ordered to write out the same line over and over on paper, supposedly so that the line would stick. The line on the wall may be read as an ironic admonition from citizens to the institutions and individuals involved in ongoing fraud schemes given that, as the Manifesto of the Marches of Dignity states, those who govern “turn a blind eye to massive fraud, corruption and capital flight.”

The “COPIAR NO ROBAR” writing on the wall seems to have been intervened by someone who wrote an “es” (“is”) in cursive letters on the right hand corner of the third line, discreetly altering the sentence to read “COPIAR NO es ROBAR” (“COPYING is NOT THEFT/STEALING”), which echoes the “Copying Is Not Theft” minute meme by Nina Paley and QuestionCopyright.org.  As you may remember, the viral meme seeks to reframe the way people think about copyright and educate the general public “about the benefits of copying throughout history.” The meme goes:  “stealing a thing leaves one less left, copying it makes one thing more.”

“Copiar no es robar” has also been mobilized by net activists, professionals, and users in Spain in their long and fierce opposition to Ley Sinde (Sinde Law, Spain’s Intellectual Property Law, enacted in December 2011) which aims to combat piracy in the internet but which, according to lawyers and net activists, threatens freedom of expression and users’ privacy rights.  One of the ideas informing the anti-Sinde campaign lauched by FACUA-Consumers in Action in July of 2011 was that the “Non-profit exchange of cultural works has always been a socially and morally accepted practice“.

copiar_no_es_robar3_thumbImage:  damoslacara.net CC BY-SA

The meanings of “COPIAR NO es ROBAR” on Calle Pizarro resonate with those of “COPIAR NO ROBAR” as passers-by are left to consider that the enclosure, appropriation, and commodification of public resources by neoliberal accumulation by dispossession are not limited to “material” resources but extend to the commodification of ideas and knowledge. The scope of that appropriation is what is at stake in the proposed amendment to the Sinde Law brought before Congress on February 14th and expected to be passed this month.   Given this context, citizens’ mobilization of the verb robar on the streets of  the Spanish state raise questions about the kind of society we want to build and live in, and how to organize to make it happen.

“No somos invisibles” declaran las calles de Tetuán (Madrid)

“No somos invisibles.”  Mientras salía ayer del metro Estrecho (en el distrito de Tetuán), vi esta declaración escrita en las paredes a los dos lados de Bravo Murillo, la activa calle comercial, que también divide el distrito en dos:



Me quedé intrigada y me preguntaba si habría más pintadas, así que dejé Bravo Murillo y me fui hacia la frutería, metiéndome por la calle Navarra.  Luego crucé hacia el otro lado. Y sí, había muchísimas más en varios muros.  Las calles hablaban alto y claro:



No sé quién las puede haber escrito, pero parece que las pintadas acompañan la imprescindible campaña Invisibles de Tetuán, de la Asamblea Popular 15M Tetuán, que, según explica en su página, busca, por un lado denunciar la desatención del gobierno a las necesidades de los vecinos de Tetuán, castigados, desempleados y empobrecidos por las políticas neoliberales, y, por otro lado “generar una dinámica de movilización y lucha” frente a este ataque sistémico a los derechos humanos:


En este contexto, la interpelación elocuente de las pintadas a los transeúntes por este vecindario me recordó unos versos del “antropoeta” chicano Renato Rosaldo.  Aunque su referente es otro, sus resonancias permiten crear un mapa de afinidades. El poema empieza así: “Celebramos sus días / comemos hot dogs, nos entusiasma el béisbol, / pero ellos dicen que nacimos para desyerbar, / limpiar casas, cargar bultos en el gris de la madrugada /mientras ellos duermen. Despiertos, miran sin vernos.”





“Nos vemos a nosotros claramente, nos conocemos / precisamente, sin fiestas y desfiles. / Para sobrevivir, nos urge.”

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“Día tras día oigo las puertas cerrándose, / me tropiezo con el menosprecio, / doy con los hombres que dicen con la cabeza que sí, que sí, / pero no escuchan”  (Renato Rosaldo: “Los invisibles” en Prayer to Spider Woman/Rezo a la mujer araña, 2003).  Les dejo aquí más imágenes de esta declaración que nos concierne a todos:

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IMG_5717Tetuán, Madrid, 20 y 22 de Mayo 2014.

Puedes visitar la página de Facebook de Invisibles de Tetuán aquí.

“No somos invisibles / We are not invisible” Declare the Streets of Tetuán (Madrid)

“No somos invisibles.”  As I was leaving Estrecho station (Tetuán district) yesterday I saw this slogan written on the walls of both sides of Bravo Murillo, the busy commercial street which also functions as a border with the neighborhoods of Berruguete, Valdeacederas, and Bellas Vistas on one side and those of Cuatro Caminos and Castillejos on the other:



I wondered if there were more writings so I left Bravo Murillo and started walking toward the fruit store, Calle Navarra, and then crossed to the other side.  Yes, there was a number of them.  The streets  were speaking loudly and clearly:



I don’t know who may have written them,but it seems to me that they accompany the urgent campaign Invisibles de Tetuán (The Invisible of Tetuán).  In their webpage, they explain that they seek to denounce the government’s neglect of the needs of the residents of this neighborhood, who are suffering the consequences of neoliberal policies: unemployment, evictions, poverty, budget cuts; and also to create a space for mobilization and struggle against this attack on human rights:


Seen in this context, the eloquent interpellation of the writing on the walls to passersby reminded me of a piece by Chicano “anthropoet” Renato Rosaldo. While his text  is located in a different context, the slogans and the poem resonate, creating a map of affinities.  The poem starts like this: “We celebrate their days / eat hot dogs, love baseball, / but they say we were born to weed, / carry crates in the grey of dawn / while they sleep.  Awake they look at us without seeing.”





“We see ourselves clearly, know ourselves / precisely, without parades and picnics. / To survive, me must.”



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“I’m one of the invisible living among the notable. / Day after day I hear doors shut, / stumble over slurs , and bump into the man / who nods yes, yes, but isn’t listening” (Renato Rosaldo. “Invisibility,” Prayer to Spider Woman, 2003).  I leave you here with more images of this writing on the walls which concerns us all:


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IMG_5798Tetuán, Madrid, 20 and 22May 2014.