Feminist Wheatpastes in Lavapiés: Practices of Memory

Forms of intervention in the city, using the street as a platform: Calle de Ministriles Chica, 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:

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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

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Lavapiés, Madrid: Anarchofeminist Slogans

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:

redesycalles 7853 rtMujeres Libres: “Neither ladies nor slaves.”  31 Dec. 2015.

redesycalles 7852 rtMujeres Libres:  “Whips against patriarchy.”  31 Dec. 2015.

If writings on the wall may be read as gifts, what would be the gifts bestowed by the Mujeres Libres (Free Women) activists upon Continue reading

Lie: Mentira

“Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie …” Like a swarm, the word lie, written in hand-style with black and brown markers, repeats itself covering the glass on a window on a street of downtown Madrid.  Lie, lie.  Lately, the word resonates with particular force within the Spanish state. IMG_4529April, 2014.

Lies, lies, lies.  Hannah Arendt warned us: the modern lie does not limit itself to concealing.  In Políticas y estéticas de la memoria Chilean cultural critic Nelly Richard observes that the modern lie destroys reality, and that practically no one escapes its effects (1989: 35). And this is so because the modern lie questions “common and objective reality itself” and this poses “a political problem of the first order” (Richard, 35-36). And it also poses, without a doubt, a problem for the production of subjectivities within the Spanish state. redesycalles_4528rt

In a conference at the Residencia de Estudiantes de Madrid, Jacques Derrida observed that “What is relevant about a lie is never its content, but the intentionality of he/she who lies.  A lie is not something that is opposed to truth […] what counts is the damage it causes on an other.” Lies, lies, political lies:  institutional assaults to people and to life. And because of that, in response to them,  constructions of common realities from the streets of Madrid.

Tags: Territories

Walking in the city: reading the tags on the walls:  tags:  writing and the breaking up of private identities.  To become a pack.  Tags:  not given, not proper names but pseudonyms.  Presences that dissolve the media signs of the segregationist city. Tags by Smak47: following Baudrillard, we say: they run across Madrid, they cross Madrid, they run from one wall to the next, they inhabit doors, electricity boxes, windows: tags overflow them, ride them, turning them into bodies activated through writing  (“Kool Killer or the Insurrection of the Sign”: 1980: 82).

redesycalles octubre 20 IMG_9151 copySmak47, calle Zurbano, 20 Oct. 2014.

From that perspective tags do not belong to the realm of private property but Continue reading

Ephemeral and transient: tags on Fuencarral

Walking down Fuencarral street in Madrid, looking around and running into public texts whose proliferation make up, in part, the shared space of the city. In the background, to the right, in red and blue, traffic signs informing that parking is prohibited. In red and white, a bank sign, and up above, in white and blue, an ATM sign. Signs of order, signs of capital and commerce, and marks of private property that the state and its institutions have taught us to read, naturalizing their logics.  These signs coexist with other signs that demand from us other methods of reading and an other type of relation with the city: tags.

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Tags: signatures using a pseudonyn in public space. In the foreground, tags in Continue reading

An Invitation to Laziness: Paste-ups in Fuencarral

Walking down Fuencarral street in Madrid this past Friday, three paste-ups burst out of the walls  inviting passersby to leisure and idleness as basic vindications at a time when work has colonized most aspects of life. In a historical moment that can be thought of as the brutal attack of the accumulation of capital against the rights of workers, the author or authors of these fragile pieces made up of paper and ink echo Paul Lafargue (The Right to be Lazy 1880-1883) who argued for a reduced volume of work and for creativity and laziness as key sources for human well-being and progress.  This paste-up uses G. E. Lessing‘s praise of laziness (1747), with which Lafargue opened his own text:

redesycalles IMG_0263 “Let us be lazy in everything, except in loving and drinking, except in being lazy.”

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The defense of enjoyment and happiness as inalienable rights also guides Continue reading

Alto: Street Art and Spaces of Memory

You walk leisurely on the streets of Lavapiés. You look down, you look at your feet:  skulls, bones that emerge from the walls. They are there, underneath you, next to your feet, peeking just above the sidewalk. They are there, next to you and under your feet, when you leave the building, when you walk down the street, when you walk into a store. You can hear their rumor.

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redesycalles 11 oct IMG_8783 copyLavapiés 11 Oct. 2014.

The bones belong to the series “Fosas comunes: contra Continue reading

Inhabiting the Street: Creating Life: La Enredadera in Tetuán

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“La Enre is a good place to feel you’re a human being,” “La Enre allows us to dream…make it grow!”: testimonies of social and creative practices written on colorful post-it notes placed on the window of the Centro Social La Enredadera de Tetuán. Or simply La Enre (“enredadera” meaning “vine” in Castillian).  Running into these notes on the street, early in the morning, on the way to work. Small squares of Continue reading

Banks and Benches on the Streets of Madrid

A new entry in the Diccionario de las Periferias (Dictionary of the Peripheries) explores two aspects of the word “Banco” (bank, bench) in relation to life. “Vida de los bancos”–Life(blood) of banks: a phenomenon through which the life of a family ends up depending on a bank: in other words, lives that belong to banks through indebtedness. Its antonyms: mutual aid and networks.

redesycalles IMG_6530Curruncho y Mufasa Mordiscos (La Banda del Rotu) : “Fuck Bancös”.  Palma, 10 June 2014.

The Dictionary also elaborates on “vida de banco”–life on a bench: a way of spending time,  a coexistence that may produce friendships Continue reading

Feminist Graffiti for Safe and Free Abortion in Madrid

The political icons, slogans and messages that make up, in part, feminist graffiti interrupt the normative landscape of what Allyson Mitchell calls the “ideological city”:  “systems of belief, laws, and other norms of social interaction” (“The Writings on the Wall:  Feminist and Lesbian Graffiti as Cultural Production”, 2001: 223).  While it is, of course, a heterogeneous cultural production guided by different social theories and different understandings of feminism, what I am here referring to as feminist graffiti is, basically, a writing about power and citizenship.  Among the many relations of power on which this vast cultural production focuses, there is one that stands out on the streets of Madrid since the end of last year: the graffiti that reclaims and defends the right to free abortion: the right of women to decide over their own bodies and lives, and also to produce a more just society for everyone.

redesycalles IMG_7853Fuencarral, 10 Sept. 2014

In an article that is a must-read due to its conceptual clarity, philosopher Beatriz Preciado notes that of all the organs of the body, the uterus has been, Continue reading