The Occupied Territories

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[ foto remix : podinski + ropinski ]

Investigations for episodes #40-43 of CiTiZEN KiNO

The XLterrestrials – the nomadic arts and praxis lab – have been researching the intersections of technotopian delusions AND the housing struggles, and we felt it might be a good time to report some recent findings …

Originally our  CiTiZEN KiNO project, a “cinema hacking” platform, came to tour California in Sept. 2014 to share our project called “Technotopia, All You Can’t Eat ! “ which was developed in Berlin ( and officially premiered in Amsterdam at the Interference Conference at The Occi ) to articulate a tactical critique of the technological occupation, or as we’ve recently expressed it : Living In A Cybernetic Regime.

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[ Poster for C-KiNO #40 returning in April 2015 ]

“ There can no longer be technological progress without social progress. All our innovations, and all our bases, are becoming an expansion of the (anthropocene) hole in which we bury our imbalanced, fractured and disconnected humanity… In short, it’s time to get our asses out of our e-holes ! ”

“ There can be no doubt that the Digital Exodus Inc. is the world’s fastest growing religion ! There’s even the promise of an immortality factor: Just imagine your pixelated brain stuffed like a detached Buffalo-head forever clicking + computing Likes and Links on the walls of Ray Kurzweil’s, Google’s, Frackbook’s and Amazon’s. Floating in the afterlife like a glorious and eternal gift-bearing CloudFart, made in The Holy Silicon Valley… or, to be more accurate, in unseen sweatshops around the globe.  “

XLterrestrials psychomedia analyst, texts for CiTIZEN KiNO #40

Since arriving to the western occupied territories, we felt a drastic shift in climate and priorities. Economic, political and social… and even temperature ;)  … From the eruption of the Ferguson protests and all the solidarity arising from similar militarized police killings across the land, such state-sanctioned violence was hardly new, but it was the sign of something now boiling over in a concentrated torrent of blatant injustices. And in our analysis, the #blacklivesmatter (and brown) movement can also be connected to reclaiming our rights to the city. Since what we are experiencing is a continuity of colonial power, privilege and abuse… doing its bloody business in various forms, new and old.

Again nothing new, but if you’re just catching on: Concurrent with foreign invasions and occupations, there is now little respite in living in the belly of empire, YOU are also under siege. The escalating trends of gentrification and disruptive neo-liberal capture (practice, agenda and mindset) in our urban spaces are signs of  kleptomaniacal habits stretching beyond the (militarily) weak prey of underdeveloped countries and poor neighborhoods, rather manifesting uncontrollably at every possible corner. The unprecedented destabilization may even provide a prime opportunity to create a new formidable solidarity across race and class lines. 99%-ers all ready for the good fight !

In the neo-liberal feeding frenzy, the new threat to the sustainability of an entire planet means we are all indigenous now! We all have a dysfunctional operating system pointed at our heads ! We are all now involuntary members of the Oppressed Club ! “

XLterrestrial Citizen #4

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[ Art from Fernando Marti, 1990s ]                                             …

In addition, the homelessness and displacement which had also been a longtime hemorraging of rights, and a festering of social dysfunction in these parts, is beginning to affect our daily sanity. It is just not a topic we can as good citizens or as artists ignore or hide from any longer.

And then personally, in our own precarious situation we suddenly experienced a TRIPLING of our rent, compared to our Berlin base… And yet we considered ourselves lucky. We had found a somewhat subsidized refuge in an old cinema ‘bunker’ w/ old comrades in the Mission District. And there certainly aren’t many of those left !  Our projects are at risk, and to a certain extent our lives, but of course we must admit it is hardly comparable to the precarity of so many others we are witnessing all over the city (and the planet).

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[ Graffiti in Berlin : “ Realize leftist free space, and defend it ! Reclaim Your City ! “ ]

In our own hearts and minds, we were growing pathetically nostalgic for the old autonomous zones of Berlin ( particularly in the 90s ), and the various social centers and squats we’ve visited on various tours and engagements throughout the EU over the years, from spots like Tacheles, Haus Schwarzenberg, NewYorck, K-77 , Kopi, Rigaerstr., Rote Fabrik, ReitHalle, Rhino and Duce 11, Christiania, Occi, Karlo Rojc, Metelkova, Tuzrakter, Squat Eurodisney, etc. And meeting people who are ready and mobilized to defend them.

Though, of course, things are currently in a difficult (and at times, depressing) state in Europe as well. This Berlin graffiti above ( from the aughts? ) lists a number of autonomous house projects, a few of them have already ended in forced evictions. Hungary’s freezones are in a dire state w/ an extremely rightwing regime. Christiania in Denmark, an occupied military barracks since the 70s housing over a 1,000 people is an entire semi-autonomous village in the middle of an extremely expensive Copenhagen, is now under siege with new institutionalizing expenses being imposed.

There is a fascinating book (we’ve been utilizing for our presentations) called “The City is Ours” with perspectives given case-by-case; each chapter covers a different city in the EU, each with its own tactics and scenarios to fight for living space.

“ While the squatting movement attracted those who wished to protest the lack of affordable housing, rampant property speculation, and the negative effects of post-war urban redevelopment, it also offered an opportunity for many to quite literally build an alternative habitus where the very practice of squatting became the basis for producing a common spacial field, a field where principles of cooperative living intersected with juggled political commitments, emotional attachments, and the mundane materialisms of domesticity, occupation, and renovation “

from Alex Vasudevan’s chapter on Berlin ( PM Press 2014 )

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[ poster for C-KiNO #42, graffiti from the Valencia wall by Political Gridlock ]

We wished to take up the new pressing themes and local struggles and think in terms of recouping or re-introducing those valuable + fruit-bearing dreams of sustainable autonomous zones… A very different species from the temporary zones and festival forms that now seem to dominate the California dreaming.

What could we trigger for discussions and tactical thinking by showing (excerpts from) docs like Paths Through Utopias (2013), Ecumenopolis: city without limits (2011), Mittendrin (2003 ), Retort ( 2014 ), and radical news coverage from media groups like Leftvision Clips, etc. ?! And we continue to collect various media on this very concrete resistance territory. Knowing quite well, this is not easily transposed to a place with rabid property laws and already trigger-happy police.

At the very least, in cities like Oakland, SF and its outskirts, we should be demanding that social centers and cultural spaces should exist outside the market-rate rents, and the feeding frenzies for property in cities awash in speculative gaming!

More importantly, we must put back at the forefront of the struggles the human right to, not only shelter, but an unoccupied existence. NO ONE in a Free Society should be threatened with evictions for lack of funds, NO ONE should even be threatened with some ultimatum of submitting to wage slavery just to have a roof over one’s head. This is the basis of another kind of slave colony!

Of course we were already far off the map from anything resembling a Free Society, especially in the shadows of the Silicon Valley Beast, and a whole trail of genocidal cultures before us. And no matter where one is these days, to varying degrees, we are all losing a foothold for such rights and freedoms in every major city on the planet. There’s only limited refuge in autonomous housing projects, but could we expose the entire toxic environment + industrialized labor complex as a place of imminent recuperation?! Could that open up new fronts for re-making a sustainable life!?

Note: There is so much to add to this article, and so much great research + resources already out there, but we’ll have to close here. The XLterrestrials will be writing more on the subject, providing links and sites for films + media on our blog:

www.XLterrestrials.org/plog

We will be posting new dates there soon for C-Kino’s Occupied Territories part 3… and a newer version of Technotopian critiques coming in April.

 

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