Forum on DIY Culture and Autonomous Spaces
TAA London 2018 Saturday 5th May 2-7pm
The forum on DIY Culture and Autonomous Spaces brings together academics, activists, squatters and organisers to discuss different aspects of cultural free-spaces and squatting activism.
The afternoon of talks will cover topics such as paradoxes of hierarchy and authority within squatter movements; disruptive technology and opportunities for anarchism; the call to requisition buildings after Grenfell and how this compares with requisitioning which took place during the post-war squatting movement; inner and outer free spaces in the cracks of the system, and practical squatting advice from the Advisory Service for Squatters. We will end the forum with an open discussion about the future of radical DIY spaces and squatter/autonomous communities in London and beyond, which we’d love you to bring your ideas to!
Established squatted spaces such as ADM in Amsterdam and Köpi in Berlin, have provided a cultural centre for their cities subcultures for over 20 years – but as housing and space in cities are becoming increasingly valuable commodities sold to the highest bidder, how long can these spaces survive in an evermore militantly policed and unforgiving right-wing Europe? Should we use barricades or the laws to protect ourselves? If all these spaces are destined to be evicted then what (if anything) could replace them as self-germinating spaces of radical ideas and self-empowerment? If squatting was only made possible because of the waste and failures of capitalism, were these places (like capitalism) always destined to fail?
In the past 10 years squatting laws have changed in many countries in Europe (Netherlands, Spain, France, UK) making it more difficult to hold down long-term squatted spaces. What does this mean for the future of ‘free spaces’ and have these spaces ever actually been free or accessible to everyone? Perhaps those of us who had time and energy to participate in such spaces and movements were blinded by our privileges, and this itself made the movement ‘exclusive’. How does nostalgia for a (supposedly) more radical heyday affect our emotional attachment to these places, ideas and structures? Cultural free spaces have provided opportunities to experiment with skills, life and relationships; but not without creating their own set of problems and power structures within the movement. This forum is a space for us to think about the future we are going to build, how to continue to use optimism and utopic ideals to build our free spaces, but to strive to make them safer and more accessible than they have been in the past.
The forum will be held in an occupied building, as part of Temporary Autonomous Art (TAA). The location will not be revealed until the week of the event, please visit www.taaexhibitions.org or call 07407000606 after Monday 30th April for the location. If you have any accessibility issues, we’re sorry that we won’t be able to tell you whether it’s wheelchair accessible until the week of the event. If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “DIY Forum”.
Speakers and Talks
Nazima Kadir (Anthropologist) – The Autonomous Life?
Nazima is the author of The Autonomous Life? Paradoxes of Hierachy and Authority in the Squatters Movement in Amsterdam, and she will be discussing themes and stories from her book. She spent 3.5 years living in Amsterdam’s squatter community and examined what people say versus what they practice in a highly ideological community of the radical left. The first half of the talk will be Nazima talking about her book, and the second half will be in-conversation with Peter Bloom (Open University).
Sam Burgum (Sheffield University)
– Squatting the Crisis: Distributions of the Sensible from Grenfell Tower to the Home Front
Why were calls to ‘requisition’ and ‘occupy’ empty private property for accommodating survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire so quickly dismissed? Normative distributions of property entitlement, responsibility, as well as voice and appearance were quickly reasserted; and yet, through an historical comparison, it can be shown that such an accepted ‘common sense’ approach is far from self-evident. On the one hand, the extension of government requisitioning powers to address the UK’s post-war housing crisis demonstrates the possibility of challenging entitlement norms, whilst on the other, the successes of post-war squatting suggest a politics of ‘forced entry’ which undermines accepted distributions of voice and appearance. Using seldom-studied archive data on the post-war squatters, this talk based on Sam’s article contributes to contemporary understandings of squatting, whilst demonstrating the contingency of widely-accepted norms around private property, and offering an early critique of the narrow technical terms in which the official Grenfell inquiry is currently being cast.
Advisory Service for Squatters – Squatting is Still Legal (Sometimes): Practical Squatting Skill Share.
Squatting in commercial buildings is still legal (and possible) in the UK – whether your interested in squatting for housing, activist occupations or just staging an event/party, A.S.S will be talking about the current situation of the squatting scene in London and be able to offer practical squatting advice. Advisory Service For Squatters is an unpaid collective of workers who have been running a daily advice service for squatters and homeless people since 1975. ASS publishes The Squatters Handbook, the fourteenth edition of which is the current one, and has sold in excess of 150,000 copies since 1976.
Peter Bloom (Open University) – Disruptive Freedom: The Possibility of ‘Anarchism 4.0’
The talk will examine how emerging “future tech” can be used to disrupt and revolutionize capitalist relations to anarchist values, particularly around expanding the potentialities of everyday liberation.
Wolfgang Sterneck – CREATE FREE SPACES: A talk on Alternative Culture and Visions of Change
This multi-media presentation explores free cultural spaces in the cracks of the system: alternative communities, creative activism, squatted houses, holistic ecovillages, psychedelic cybertribes, free festivals, … The talk addresses inner and outer free spaces, visions and realities: How do you want to live? Where are our free spaces?
Wolfgang Sterneck (Frankfurt / Berlin) is a socio-cultural activist and writer of several books on alternative culture.
www.sterneck.net – www.freeculturalspaces.net