Room: Cultural Production
in Occupied Spaces
edited by Alan Moore and Alan Smart
published by Other Forms
Making Room: Cultural Production in Occupied Spaces is an anthology of texts on art, media and aesthetic practice in the context of squatting, occupation and urban space activism. It includes pieces by activist researchers working between the academy and the movements they write about, journalistic first-person narratives by squatters, original photography and interviews with artists, theorists and activists involved in struggles over urban space and creative production in the city. Focused primarily on the European context its international relations and connection, this diverse collection of material is organized into sections by country so as to highlight the contrast between different voices and frames of reference. While many of these voices assert accounts of a cohesive, international squatter movement or are committed to specific political projects the anthology, when taken as a whole, tells a more complex story about constellations of movements and practices intensely engaged with local conditions that have developed - sometimes independently, sometimes in dialog with one another - as people have struggled to survive, express themselves, carve out zones of autonomy and resistance, and push back against the dominance of capitalism in the city. In this,
appears in a variety of forms ranging from conventional art practices,
to the organizing of communities and networks, to the production of
media and setting up of information systems. Likewise, squats,
occupations and social centers are figured as art projects themselves,
housing and workspaces for artists or, most significantly, constituent
parts of an alternative infrastructure for the autonomous production of
knowledge, discourse, and aesthetics.
Making Room includes stories of the squatter movement in Germany both in the 1980s and '90s as the Cold War was ending and Neoliberalism taking shape, and in its contemporary manifestations as resistance to gentrification and struggles for housing and the inclusion of migrants. In Northern Europe it recounts episodes in the emergence of militant autonomism from the softer ounterculture of the 1960s and '70s as struggles hardened and utopian exuberance faded in the face of the consolidation of global capitalism and was replaced by grim, determined holding actions. In Italy the housing struggles and social center movement of the 1980s appears as a more popular and pragmatic revival of activism following the decimation of the radical left in the dark years of the anni di piombo. This revival has found new resonance in the resurgence of squatting in Italy and the occupation and debt resistance movement in Spain that have taken much inspiration from it. Other texts in the anthology recount struggles to define the role of creativity as cities in Western Europe and North America have become post-industrial urban economies, organized around knowledge work and affective labor, and gentrification has replaced urban decay as a primary problem. Finally, another narrative thread runs through the anthology tracing a history of radical media from the underground printing and publishing practices of the 1960Ős and '70s through the proliferation of pirate radio and television projects and into contemporary hacker and internet activist culture.
In addition to taking steps towards theorizing and writing a history of an often overlooked, or obscured set of movements and phenomena, Making Room suggests a rethinking, and realignment of the relationships between art, politics, and architecture and urbanism. This ambition emphatically locates the anthology's site of engagement, not in the "post-1968" context so often invoked in post-modernist discourses, or even in the "post-1977" frame established in contemporary leftist thought, but in the immediate present, in which neoliberal capitalism - in all of its "lateness" - has simultaneously achieved at least the appearance of almost complete dominance of space and time and reality, while also reaching a point of acute crisis in which the imagining of practical alternatives and the development of material practices of resistance has become a matter, not only of hopeful utopian speculation, but also life-and-death necessity.
Making Room was originally conceived of as the cultural component of the research project, The Squatters' Movement in Spain and Europe: Contexts, Cycles, Identities and Institutionalisation initiated by Miguel A. Martinez. It has been greatly informed by the work of the Squatting in Europe Research Kollective (SqEK) and many of the texts contributed have come from its members. Also, much of the material in Making Room originally appeared in the magazine House Magic and was collected in the course of its editor, Alan Moore's, ongoing research, curatorial and organizing work. The anthology was planned and edited by Alan Moore and, architect and researcher Alan Smart who also worked on the design of the book together with his collaborators in the design collective Other Forms. The first edition of Making Room was printed by the self-managed workshops of Los Malditos Impresores in Barcelona and is being distributed in colaboration with the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest.
With contributions by:
Miguel Angel Martínez Lopez, Alan W. Moore, Stevphen Shukaitis, Universidad Nomada, Tino Buchholz, Vincent Boschma, Geert Lovink, Alan Smart, Aja Waalwijk, Jordan Zinovich, Britta Lillesoe,Tina Steiger, Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, x-Chris, Kasper Opstrup, Azomozox, Ashley Dawson, Sarah Lewison, Azomozox, Nina Fraeser, Julia Ramirez Blanco, Tobias Morawski, Eliseo Fucolti, Gianni Piazza, Assembly of Teatro Valle, Patrick Nagle, Emanuele Braga, Margot Verdier, Vincent Prieur, Jon Lackman, Jacqueline Feldman, Julia Lledin, Elisabeth Lorenzi, Julia Lledinm, Stephen Luis Vilaseca, La Casa Invisible, Stephen Luis Vilaseca, Yasmin Ramirez, Gregory Lehmann, Sutapa Chattopadhyay, Jasna Babic, Tristan Wibault, Galvao Debelle dos Santos, E.T.C. Dee, Spencer Sunshine, Maxigas, mujinga.
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