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Spain: from semi-periphery to the G-8?

Understanding recent transformations in the Geo-Economy of Spain

While carrying out this project of research and immersion in new movements practices, and especially militant research and activist cartography, we’re encountering more and more incredible information about the transformation that are going on within the territory of the Spanish state. Much of this info would be relevant for any deeper understanding of current movement practices as well as why it is important to search for new forms of militant intervention.

The more time passes- the more it seems clear that the country is going through a series of vary impressive and rapid changes, many within a relatively short period of ten or fifteen years. We’ll try to highlight some of these by listing a few and reflecting a bit on what this may mean

Timeline a grosso modo:

-’75 beginning of the transition period from Franco’s regime. First general elections in ’77, constitution adopted in ’79 and last attempt at coup d’etat in ’82. At this point Spain is considered well “behindâ€Â in terms of the rest of Europe and the First World. In fact a popular phrase referring to Spain and Portugal was “Africa begins in the Pyrennesâ€Â (i.e. once you crossed the Southwestern border of France you were in Africa not Europe).

-During this period and with the state-wide victories of the PSOE (euro-socialist) Party during the 80’s, two quite large scale processes begin to get underway in Spain: the construction of welfare state on the European model (with its own peculiarities); and the beginning of economic and political integration into the European Union/Community- in particular regards to this last point Spain solidifies its role as a second-tier industrial country producing goods (such as cars & ??) for the European market, labor is still cheap and European capital begins to flood in. It should be stressed that these processes were already beginning in the later part of the Francoist period: manufacturing outposts for large industrial groups (including US capital like Ford and General Motors). Massive rural to urban migration really began in the 50’s and 60’s. During the 60’s and 70’s Spain was a net exporter of people, mostly people going for a period of time to Germany and some other countries to work. From that period were inherited a number of state-owned companies and elements of a fascist-planed economy while favoring powerful industrial groups.

So as we arrive in the 1980’s one can see a picture of a country that had recently passed from primarily rural to primarily urban; served as a manufacturing base for foreign companies to sell in foreign markets (the domestic market was building but still much smaller); a very frugal population and consumption culture, consumer cap had not hit, financial mechanisms like credit cards, mortgages etc. were weird and distant. The capital Madrid was “an industrial city in crisis, capital of a semi-peripheral countryâ€Â (Rodriguez 2007 p.14-Diagonal #55). No powerful multinationals of Spanish origin existed.

As the 80’s end and we enter the 90’s –Spain enters NATO and the EC in ’86- the economy begins to transform. De-industiralization, “rationalizationâ€Â of companies begins to take place- the early 90’s are rocked by 20% unemployment across the country, higher in some areas, and much higher across the board for youth, prospects look grim for an entire generation. Large public companies begin the privatization process: Iberia airlines, Telefonica, energy companies like Repsol, Endesa & Iberdrola, etc. as the nineties march on regional and national banks begin to become huge global players: BBVA & Banco Santander in particular. Instead of being a net exporter of people, migrants begin to arrive: from Eastern/Central Europe, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa- initially Spain serves as a transit country, but as the years pass people begin to settle and form communities (It should be noted there existed regions where migration has been a reality for decades though, often it was temporary migration or limited in geographic scope, it is only in the 90’s & 00’s that it becomes more of a country-wide phenomena)

Briefly then some data to think about what is going on:

-in 2006 Spain was the second country in the world, after the US, in number of migrants received (BBVA sociological study 2007). In 1992 it would probably not even have been 10th. Migration has grown exponentially almost every year without a break from 1994 on- to the point were the foreign-born population is currently about 8% of the total (only counting legal migrants). Not only is this one of the highest in the EU but considering the fact that in 1993 foreign-born population was less than 1% this is pretty uncanny- a radical cultural and demographic shift is underway. This should also be read in the context of Spain being and EU “borderâ€Â country- while its borders with Portugal and France are opening- the border with Morocco is militarizing heavily, beginning to eerily look like the US-Mexicio border (or maybe its vice versa ???)

-from being an industrial platform it has gone to a mini-center of finance, urban speculation and service industries: On this note it is interesting to talk about tourism. This has been one of the major development poles of the Spanish economy: about 10-11% of the GDP is from tourism currently- and Spain this year was second only after the US in number of tourists and second to France in amount of money generated form tourist dollars/euros (it might be vice versa but you get the picture). This may have helped explain the decrease in permanently unemployed on the one hand and the skyrocketing of precarious forms of employment on the other (temporary, no benefits, seasonal, low unionization, etc.)

-From not having any multinationals based in Spanish capital to note in the 80’s, nor having many headquarters of global corporations hosted there… to being the eighth city of the world for large corporate headquarters (Rodriguez). The privatization of public industries, and the take-off of an unleashed private sector, has also lead to the creation of what are sometimes referred to as the “new conquistadorsâ€Â or the “new Spanish Armadaâ€Â- especially in reference to their entry into Latin American markets. Due to the opening up of those markets trough IMF & IADB adjustment plans Spanish corporations took advantage of linguistic and cultural facility to rapidly enter those markets during the mid-late 90’s becoming key players (controllers) of key sectors such as: telecommunications, commercial air transport, energy/petrol, banking, in quite a few countries. Ironically now the third largest stock market of Latin American stocks is in Madird- and is a specific subsidiary of the IBEX (the Spanish stock market) called the LABOX (or something similar).

-Five out of the ten top European construction companies are based in Madrid. And this is no joke- just ask Greenpsan on the importance of housing markets and construction …There is currently a construction and housing super boom going in Spain that has only just recently begin to burst, some say that its was this boom that was helping the economy keep afloat. Construction is going on all over the place- unclear who or what it is for sometimes, interesting to note that many of these top companies though are also huge global player and much of their earnings comes form foreign contracts.

-mass consumption is booming- cell phones, computers, cars, designer clothing at accessible rates, increase in the use of credit through cards; as well as loans: mortgages and others.

-While unemployment has fallen- precarious employment has skyrocketed: especially in domestic work, constructions and services such as restaurants, hotels, entertainments etc. lots of jobs have been created but many of them just “go awayâ€Â after a while. Salaries have remained more or less stagnate with regards to prices, while prices have skyrocketed especially due to the entry into the Eurozone as well as the speculation going on in housing markets. (see Berrendero)

-these things have also translated into other social practices: from being a country of fairly traditional and solid family structures to being the second in Europe in terms of separations of marriages. Spain currently has one of the lowest birth rates in the world as well- only stemmed by immigrants and their families. Also being the top in Europe in terms of new Commercial Centers “mallsâ€Â being built (replacing the type of local commerce for which the country was so famous) and which many would proudly compare themselves to countries such as the US, UK, France, etc.).

In some sense then Spain may be a copycat case of a modernization paradigm- but moving very fast?

All of these dizzying changes are hard to capture- and it is not always clear the movements are armed with strategies to deal with them. In the particular case of the corporatization of the economy and the increasing role of multinationals in the country- it seems that the institutional left and to a large degree extra-parliamentarian movements do not really realize the transformations or discuss what to do about it. The absence of practices such as ‘corporate campaigns’ and similar tools, seem to speak to this.

It may very well be the practices such as militant research and radical cartography are responding to precisely this situation. We can’t read this link too directly of course as in: <rn
> this would be somewhat ridiculous. But it could be part of what is happening- as in movements need new tools to understand the rapid transformations taking place and new ways to diffuse=se information about these processes. At least in the case of the Observatorio Metropolitano and the ‘Map Madrid’ project these seem to be particularly the case. A large research project was undertaken by a group of people involved in different social movements collectives and different struggles to try and understand what is going on in Madrid: rapid urban transformations, gentrification, segregation, immigration, subcultures, movements etc. Large volumes of different projects then are being put together for a book and accompanied by a series of maps the results that include interactive online maps for user to try and create those maps with the information most relevant on them. A serious and more than a year long attempt collective effort (more than a dozen people involved regularly in the project) to grab at what in the world is going on and what can be done about and to put it into debate amongst different antagonistic networks in the city.

precarity web-meeting in Rome


After a long day of talking at an international seminar, trying to restart a collective map as part of the Web Ring process we retire back to the ESC space where I ask Paolo to tell me more about different activist experiences in Rome and what’s going on with the student movement, activist research & cartography, & everything else.

He scrambles for two beers- we cheer, chug and the story starts –

First- the Scene: where we are. ESC ( is a squatted warehouse in the neighborhood of San Lorenzo- right by the Sapienza university- the largest university in Europe (and one of the largest in the world somewhere after the UNAM).

A series of struggles around 2002/3 in universities in Rome start the process that will lead to the squatting of the ESC space toward the end of 2004- by students (undergrad and grad), researchers, cultural workers, and intermittently employed folks. Soon after ESC gets going as a project- in 2005 there’s a large strike at the Sapienza with departments and buildings taken over for weeks/months at a time. ESC gets enmeshed in all of this of course- so when they are threatened with eviction can muster up thousands of people in support. So for the moment- the squatted status navigates a sort of tense legal space.

The idea of ESC operates on a sort of two fold plane. Principally it serves to act as an interface between the “university” and the “city”. Being that the two increasingly make each other and currently- if all the talk about cognitive capitalism, creative class etc. has any merit to it- then the university itself and its spaces begin to reform/remake metropolitan spaces in order to drink from that boiling pot of creative relations. So ESC serves as a switchboard or transit station between movements, activities, interventions, within and without the university, making a strategic choice to intervene in questions around the university due to their analysis of its current role in economics, politics and class formation as well as being a part of its most members’ vital experience.

On the second hand ESC is also part of a series of new social centers that try to reorient the politics of social centers away from a sort of counter-culture politics and towards a more out-reaching extraverted approach towards the city. This includes strategic uses of autonomy as opposed to a more “purist” approach.

Besides a lot of work around the Bologna process (the EU’s institutional attempt to create a European Space of Higher Education) currently ESC has begun a series of very interesting projects- many focused around their idea of “autoformazione”. “Autoformazione”- or self-formation/teaching- is for ESC the creation of autonomous spaces for research and education. Spaces of training/workshops/classrooms, etc. that can aid in building people’s capacities as well as strengthening struggles. Their approach towards “AF” lets call it, includes fighting with the university or others on occasions for recognition of the material taught in spaces such as ESC so that people can claim official university-like credit for what they’re doing.

(we’re not sure if this would be the same as some sort of internship credit- it could be problematic- but there are a series of arguments around claiming recognition for autonomous education spaces- how they would avoid or deal with other groups they don’t agree with -‘right-wing groups or what have you- claiming their own “autonomous education” is unclear).

Not only has ESC done this with La Sapienza but has also helped to found a network called LUM- Libera Universita Metropolitana. LUM includes other Sapienza-university based groups as well as organizations from Roma III (the other big Roman university) and a few other places.

LUM not only attempts to create the sort of space of “autoformazione” as described above- their classes additionally try to challenge divisions between mental and physical/ material and immaterial labor. So they will have courses on things like contemporary Marxist/operaist thought, another class to get basic electrician skills, and another on DJing. Tests to pass a course can include: for example connecting the electricity in houses/squats/etc. where the electricity has been disconnected. Flyers for the course on DJing speak of “Knowledge- for us, by us”. So as a corollary to questions of militant research the idea of self-formation in some of these Roman groups takes a center stage.

Later, ESC and LUM form part of a broader recently formed national network between several cities called UniRiot ( “network delle facolta ribelle” which is a sort of tool and news sharing network for different university movements that are following somewhat similar paths of autonomy, questions of knowledge, anti-capitalism like but more focused and with denser political affinities amongst the groups. (They’ll actually be posting some of 3C’s info there for use by groups in Rome, Bologna and another city or two).

On questions of activist research ESC, jointly with other strictly campus-based groups, is embarking on a process of “incheista”- or “survey”. This is inspired from the tradition of “inchiesta operaia” -workers’ survey- a tool of “coricerca” (coresearch). The idea is a survey about current conditions and transformations at the university that is not based solely or even primarily on obtaining objective quantifiable data—rather the survey itself is a tool for the surveyed to begin to ask themselves questions on how they feel about things such as: access to spaces for student use, university fees, types of education, incursions of -or partnerships with- private sector banks and corporations, etc. The survey fulfills a rather different purpose then (in some sense at a micro-level this is what we may have been gesturing at with the surveys we did for the Labor Day drift). For ESC this new survey will form part of a larger process of work dealing with the Bologna Process.

Additionally, a radical mapping project is going to begin soon focusing on- what do you know,- rethinking the university and its current transformations. For the moment they’re considering two layers, or foci anyway, as far as I’ve understood it:

1) the effects of current university expansion on the city’s spaces, urbanism, gentrification-like processes, etc. (For example- in Roma III, in order to support the building of the ‘creative class’, there are plans to create “la citta dei giovani” (the city of the youth)- a sort of engineered bohemianism criss-crossed through by the university);

2) is a map of layers of types of knowledge being produced (we didn’t quite get where they might be taking this or how they’re conceiving it but it sounds interesting). Right now the map is in initial stages but they were psyched by the 3Cs project as inspiration.

They’ve done some other smaller map-ish initiatives- schematic for the time being- of university spaces within the metropolis- in both Rome and Paris between groups in both cities- – to show the density of university related spaces and their effects on a neighborhood a grosso modo

Forgotten Histories:

Movimento della Pantiera-Posse & Toni Negri’s stories on the way to jail?

We got to talking about forgotten histories of struggles- I think I was mentioning the ’71 general strike and other smaller happenings since then and we got to talking about a very impressive though near forgotten movement from Rome in 1990?!

Though most people make reference to the ’77 movement- or the long ’68, Paolo began to talk about another unique experience. In 1990, a large movement burst out of La Sapeinza university and other places- basically a general strike of the university commences lasting a good while with buildings occupied for months, generating a series of practices and networks in the midst of the post 80’s/’89 malaise in ‘the West’. During the strike a panther (black?) escaped from the Rome zoo, and the panther became the mascot for the movement.

After the strike ended- something of a new generation of activists had come into their own, and just going back into a sort of early 90’s malaise wasn’t going to cut it for them. The generation that struck during ’90- after the strike and after university (some people finishing degree others apparently not) ended up squatting approx. a hundred social centers throughout Italy in rapid succession. This was the second generation of social centers. In addition a whole cultural scene emerged with self-managing/self-producing music groups proliferating, the most famous known as Posse 99. These practices became known as the Posse movement based on an old Latin phrase I can’t quite remember (like essere- posse- ??…) and means to be able to- to have the power to. Posse is also the title of one of the principal theoretical journals of current Italian autonomous thinking (Derive Approdi probably being the other). Despite the strength of those movements, almost no trace has been left for newer folks to learn about it- virtually no books, films, zines or articles, few if any workshops by participants, etc- no key spokespeople really emerged from the movement in the same way that they had from ’77 (folks-men- like Negri, Tronti, Virno, Bifo, etc.). Its not quite so much that those experiences were lost necessarily but is interesting to see how the experiments with political/economic autonomy continued and developed after the 70’s in a generation prior to the global resistance movements.

At this point- Paolo shares a copy of Posse with me, we chat some more, and he tells me the entertaining story of how when Negri came back from France when he had to spend nights in jail in Rome during a legal process, him and another mate from ESC accompanied him many nights to take him back to jail. This was in the late 90’s, before Negri became so famous either in Italy or abroad- so they had personalized seminars on the way to jail every night for a while (during this time must have been when he was drafting Empire with Hardt), kind of cool.

Some very cool stuff happening and very cool ideas- though virtually everything can seem like more than it is- so no need to exaggerate. The space itself is quite humble but there’s definitely a lot going on and an effort to generate continuous activities and spaces of contagion between education and urban-community issues.

The Sevilla Meeting on the “Welfare-state Crisis, Precarity and New Social Rights”

The 3Cs Madrid branch participated in a very interesting meeting on issues of precarity, a topic that our collective has been working on during the last project: trying to translate it -as a word, as a concept, as a tool, as a struggle- to the US context, and particularly to the territory of the university. The following is a correspondence that captures the main points of the encounter:

3Cs at the AAG!

The Association of American Geographers met several weeks ago in San Francisco. 3Cs was on the scene at several interesting papers and panels in addition to presenting DisOrientations.

Edward Kinman, from Longwood University in Virginia, presented on a great artwork of his that is directly relevant to this summers 3Cs project. The clay installation maps the institution’s geographic growth and appropriation of a historically black neighborhood. I suggest we go see this work this summer.

Paivi Kymainen of Finland gave an interesting paper about temporary places of urban visuality in which she uses temporally unstable chora to approach the work of the artists that refer to themselves variously as The Barsky Brothers and Akaysim. These artists engage in temporary street-art projects that write urban spaces in different ways. Notably, she quotes them as understanding a city “a place where furniture can be re-arranged.” The temporal aspects of this work parallel other projects such as those in Argentina that Brian Holmes talked about.

Jorn Seemann presented some fascinating ideas that anyone who speaks Portuguese ought to follow up on (He is at Universidade Regional do Cariri, Brazil). He spoke about humanistic cartographies in which he attempted to understand mapping in a broader fashion than “Woodward and Harvey.” He proposes human territorialities such as smellscapes and mental maps that must be understood in a human context.

One panel on contemporary art and geographical activism was particularly relevant to 3Cs.
Our good friend Kanarinka has a new project in which she is recording herself running the length of each of Boston’s new evacuation routes. She is generating several kinds of records, including sound.

Christian Nold is working on in a similar project of biometric mapping. He uses technology from polygraph lie-detector machines to record peoples” excitement as they walk through urban environments and interact with other people. As people walk, a GPS unit records their position, so the biometric measures and degrees of emotion are geo-located. The particular use of these technologies is interestingly subjective and Christian stresses that these measures are very rough at best. In different hands, a normalized version of this could be downright scary. Even these maps clearly show the stress of pedestrians crossing a major intersection.
Much of this work in San Francisco is associated with “Southern Exposure”

I also shared notes with some folks from Illinois’ Critical Spatial Practice group. Nick Brown of that group does good work about discourses of southern Illinois and native lands. His work utilizes a lot of photography with some great results. I’m quite curious to see what else he develops.

The most provocative art in this panel is the work of Trevor Paglen. He photographs and records spaces of the War on Terror and the policy of extraordinary rendition. This is a great mapping of neoconservative geopolitical space that we only rarely see manifested. His work is an interesting way of making spaces legible.

I just missed a presentation on the LA urban ranger experiment, but here is a link anyway. It seems directly relevant to questions of urban legibility and inscription.

One final presentation worth mentioning is that of Jen Giesking at CUNY. She presented a pseudo-ethnographic mental mapping project about students and Mount Holyoake College. She interviewed current and former students and had them draw maps of Mount Holyoake and the area. It is an interesting method into sharing meaning of places and spaces.

Chainworkers in the Sevilla meeting

This post focuses on issues not covered in the larger report back about Sevilla meeting on “Precarizacion, Crisis del Estado de Bienestar y Nuevos Derechos Sociales”.

It includes conversations with two members of Chainworkers and m+s reflections on “organizing the creative class”

1st conversation with Alex Foti

new initiatives in Europe such as the Radical Europe network- which is supposed to include various fronts of activity at the Europe wide level such as: legal resources, a ‘precarious syndicate’, and a “think-tankâ€Â. For the think tank the idea is to claim a territory for the thirty-something intellectuals not just the old ones from always (the Ramonets, Negris, etc.).

There is supposed to be the emergence of a sort of European Summer university for social movements in Vienna- need to find out more-

Reflection Note (RN): Interesting here the idea of “think-tanksâ€Â and alternative universities, as well as the Euro wide level- this question of thinking at the Euro level has come up quite a few times over the past month and there is quite some debate about how to do it-whether to do it, etc.

2nd conversation with Alex and Zoe:

Walking through a beautiful park in Seville after garlic with bread for breakfast. We learned about some of the political scene in Italy: Strength of Centri Sociali in Padua, divergences between PGA network and some strands of Autonomia in Italy (a sort of commie vs. anarcho thing happening);

The beginnings of chainworkers- Zoe and Alex after visiting the US in ’99 (Alex had lived in NYC several years) got quite inspired by things like examples of Mc’D-s workers in Canada trying to unionize, No Logo- they were reading stuff on the plane and decided to try and start a new brand of grassroots funky unionism relevant to a new young workforce with very different values, alienated from older unions, and having grown up in the midst of hyper-consumerist branded society.

They helped to kick off the EuroMayDay process with the first protests in Milan- around 2001/2 or so

We discussed whether or not precarity was a relevant category anymore- i.e. the language that has emerged is that of “miseria precariaâ€Â- does this speak to folks that are considered the ‘creative class’ living it up in the new europe even if precariously? Do we need new languages-memes? Zoe stressed the usefulness of precarity in labor struggles in Milan and how it resonates with many people coming to into struggles and meeting chainworkers for the first time.

The theme of “whither precarity’ came up quite a few times during the encounter and has been mentioned elsewhere.

Special note:

The Radicalization of the Creative Class:

One interesting thing that come up was the idea of Radicalizing the “creative classâ€Â and using precisely the Floridian language to do so. Foti from chainworkers stressed this as a new possible vein for movements in Euro/the North to pursue.

RN: Something we noticed here was that discussions around new forms of capitalism- cognitive cap, production of language as productive activity, production of surplus value through production of human relations etc., stimuli of creativity, etc- in Europe seem to be done primarily form a critical angle- with lots of theoretical work, and activist work around this (work by folks such as Lazzarato, Corsani, Negri, Virno, Bifo, …). It seems in N.America where one finds the majority of these discussions circulating is in the work of folks like Richard Florida and notions of the creative class.

We discussed this and inspired us (m+s) to think like the following in terms of conceptualizing and organizing:

If Richard Florida is going around lecturing to town halls, city councils, etc.; if the idea of the creative class and the policies needed to establish and guarantee that form of accumulation are circulating among those in power, local and regional governments community development corporations, etc.,- why not experiment with a sort of hack or re-appropriation of the idea from an autonomous position? If they’ve called an economic creative class into being- why not call a political one into being? Some of the notions that accompany supporting a “creative classâ€Â model of economic development: like diverse neighborhoods, transport infrastructures, public spaces for people to “rub elbowsâ€Â and produce original ideas- could be hacked into an interesting series of demands.

The idea wouldn’t be so much to guarantee that Florida’s dream come true- rather to facilitate the emergence of a new radical discourse that speaks to powers that be on a different level: i.e. instead of demanding quality affordable public transport only because of notions of human dignity/ rights, etc., you can add an “economicâ€Â argument.

Instead of demanding a sort of bourgeois corporate coffee shop utopia that sometimes seems to be the result of applying “creative classâ€Â solutions to urban development- one could articulate a list of radical demands such as: if productive ideas and capital accumulation come form very different types of people being able to meet and interact regularly and inhabit similar spaces, then other demands could be made: not just Starbucks but what about reinforced affirmative action in housing? Quality and accessible housing in different parts of a town city- instead of class and racial segregation; quality public spaces- parks, plazas- not just strip malls and Walmarts; free or cheap public transport that goes to all parts of the town/city in order to facilitate the necessary mixing that creates the base of profitable idea creation; blah, blah, blah…

Additionally the idea behind pushing a radical autonomous re-appropriation of the ‘creative class’ idea is to find a means of politicizing the potential of so many folks in those types of industries. People that may often be alienated by traditional forms of politics but at the same time do not fit into categories of “the oppressedâ€Â or the “poorâ€Â therefore their demands as a class are not often taken seriously by other social movements folks in the US.

It seems that some folks have already begun to talk about this a bit- a piece we saw on the Denmark squat defense mobilizations take this angle to a degree (see link here and critique of the same here), and a new piece by Sergio Bologna as well (see link here [in Italian).

So is this an avenue worth exploring, in particular in the US where ideas of Florida’s are in such demand? Even Florida himself has apparently distanced himself from some of the more neoliberal version of his argument.

A question- what would a form of autonomous (as in- at the very least not subject to the whims of a Community Development Corporation) struggle on the part of the ‘creative class’ look like? Besides the typical repertoire (marching, sit-ins, strikes, direct actions, petitioning, etc..) what could it mean. We could try and take a cue from Florida himself again and see if that leads anywhere productive. A recent work of his was titled “The Flight of the Creative Classâ€Â; thus authorities, states, municipalities, in this schema, do what they can to avoid that flight. So what could it mean to threaten ‘flight’? Besides actually moving from one place to another (a bit hard to do on a regular basis), what might it mean in a political practice of struggle? Could it mean temporary flight in the form of some sort of ‘creative strike’ or work stoppage- and what would that look like? What about threatening putting patentable ideas into the public domain- the class doesn’t fly but its production does? Or could groups of folks actually ‘move’? Not their whole lives, but from one company to another, concentrate their activities in one part of town over another- or in a different town (as a form of threat)? If in some sense the work of the creative class is done outside the confines of office/factory/gallery/classroom/etc. then this threat could possibly become feasible to pressure in cases. This isn’t the place to hallucinate further- but could this avenue of action be worth considering? Is it already afoot?

Anyway, we thought the idea was worth mulling over and taking to a group/collective or two in order to figure out if its is a line of work worth pursuing. Maybe not, but having the “creative classâ€Â just settles into a slightly controlled bohemian version of what is called ‘middle class’ doesn’t sound that appetizing either.


(lo original en castellano abajo..)

A call for a seminar/intercambio with participants involved in political art, collaborative and cooperative artistic practices, and creative political collectives from diverse sites from two continents…

If there is something to be highlighted in the current protest cycle (which, in a few strokes of the pen, has periods of maximum visibility such as the arc stretching from Seattle to Genova or the world demonstration against the Iraq war, founding moments such as the Zapatista uprising in 1994, effects on a macropolitical scale such as the processes of institutional change in Latin America, etc.) it is definitely the way in which innovation is a structural feature of the new forms of political action and construction which are at the base of that cycle. In recent years there seems to have been a confirmation of the image of the machine Guattari and Deleuze used to refer to the need for open, flexible forms for political creativity, for which the molar and molecular, micro and macro dimensions of politics, could cease, as they have done at other moments, to be mutually exclusive.

To simplify, notions such as machine or political creation allow us to mark out a territory from where we can radically rethink the relation between art, communication and politics, put into practice now as overlapping or interlinked components, avoiding the classic game of addition: art plus’ politics, politics ‘plus’ art, politics ‘plus’ communication. For at least a decade we have been accumulating experiences which have occurred in every corner of the planet, practices quite distinct from one another which have not and will not multiply unless we think of them as genetically involved in the global protest cycle in progress.

In Sydney, Buenos Aires, Moscow, Kassel, Berlin, Havana … they are taking place, with diverse magnitude and fortune, activities with institutional visibility with new practices of political art that differentiate substantially from their replicas enclosed in the contemporary international art circuit. For the mentioned institutional moments are only flashes, although descriptive, points in a continuum that flows many times completely outside, sometimes between inside and outside of the artistic and social institutions. Someone has called these other practices “dark matter”: like the matter that, despite constituting the majority of the weight of the firmament and having a decisive influence on the evolution of the visible universe, remains to a large part hidden. It operates tirelessly between visibility and invisibility; it flows between different constitutions and forms.

This seminar looks to find similarities and differences between some concrete and recent cases of this dark matter. The central question that we propose is the following: with what forms, modes and tools these modest flexible machines are equipped, for which there is no radical politics without creativity in practices, without permanent invention in the forms and modes of construction of the self.


Un pequeño seminario informativo, didáctico y de intercambio con participantes en grupos de arte político, prácticas, artísticas, colaborativas y cooperativas, colectivos polí­ticos creativos de diversos lugares en dos continentes.

Fechas: Martes 20 y miércoles 21 de febrero de 2007.

Lugar: Aula 1 del Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Macba).

Horario: 17h-21h. Entrada libre.

Algunos nombres participantes en el seminario (y grupos y experiencias en las que toman parte): Daniel Lima y Joana Zatz de Sao Paulo (Contra Fila, Frente 3 de Fevereiro, A Revolución Será Televisionada,  política do Impossível), Juan Manuel Díaz y Verónica Iglesia de Buenos Aires (La Comunitaria TV), Loreto Garín de Buenos Aires (Etcétera, Internacional Errorista), Natasa Ilic de Zabreb (What How & for Whom [WHW]), Branka ĆurÄÂić de Novi Sad (, Pilar Monsell y Javier Toret de Málaga y Sevilla (Centro Social Casa de Iniciativas, Entránsito, Otramálaga, Fadaiat, Indymedia Estrecho), Gerald Raunig de Viena (eipcp, transform), Ateneu Candela de Terrassa, Oficinas de Derechos Sociales (ODS), etc.

Si hay algo a reseñar en el actual ciclo de protesta (que, por describirlo a vuelapluma, tiene periodos de máxima visibilidad como el arco comprendido entre Seattle y Génova o la manifestación mundial contra la guerra de Irak, momentos fundacionales como la insurrección zapatista de 1994, efectos a escala macro política como los procesos de cambio institucional en América Latina, etc.) es seguramente la manera en que la innovación constituye una característica estructural de las nuevas formas de acción y construcción  política que están en la base de dicho ciclo. Pareciera darse en estos años una verificación de la imagen de la máquina que Guattari y Deleuze utilizaron para denominar la necesidad de formas organizativas abiertas y flexibles para la creatividad  política, para las cuales las dimensiones molar y molecular, micro y macro de la  política, pudieran dejar de ser, como en otros momentos lo han sido, mutuamente excluyentes.

Dicho simplificadamente, nociones como máquina o creación  política nos permiten acotar un territorio desde el que pensar de una manera radicalmente novedosa la relación entre arte, comunicación y  política, puestas en práctica ahora como componentes entre sí imbricadas o concatenadas, sorteando el clásico juego de sumas: arte “más” política,  política “más” arte,  política “más” comunicación. Desde hace al menos una década acumulamos experiencias, que se han dado en todas las partes del planeta, de prácticas muy heterogéneas entre sí cuya multiplicación no ha podido ni podrá darse si no es pensándolas como genéticamente imbricadas en el ciclo de protesta global en curso.

En Sydney (, Buenos Aires (, Moscú (, Kassel (, Berlín (, La Habana (… se suceden, con diversa magnitud y fortuna, actividades de visibilidad institucional de nuevas prácticas de arte político que se diferencian sustancialmente de sus réplicas encerradas en el circuito internacional del arte contemporáneo. Pero los momentos institucionales mencionados son sólo fogonazos, aunque reseñables, puntuales en un continuo que fluye muchas veces totalmente fuera, a veces entre el adentro y el afuera de las instituciones artísticas y sociales. Alguien ha llamado a estas otras prácticas “materia oscura”: como la materia que, no obstante constituir la mayor parte del peso del firmamento y tener una influencia decisiva en la evolución del universo visible, permanece a grandes rasgos oculta. Opera incansable entre la visibilidad y la invisibilidad; fluye entre diferentes constituciones y formas.

Este seminario busca poner en común y contrastar algunos casos concretos y recientes de esta materia oscura. La pregunta central que proponemos es la siguiente: de qué formas, modos y herramientas se dotan algunas de esas modestas máquinas flexibles para la cuales no hay  política radical sin creatividad en las prácticas, sin invención permanente en las formas y en los modos de construcción de sí.

Esta actividad se piensa en continuidad con dos realizadas el pasado año: los seminarios Otra relacionalidad (segunda parte) ( y Capitalismo, fuerza de trabajo,  política, movimientos antisistémicos (; está vinculada también con el área Imaginación  política del Programa de Estudios Independientes (PEI) del Macba. Organizada en colaboración con Brumaria (

Algunos enlaces:

Gerald Raunig: “Algunos fragmentos sobre las máquinas”

Gregory Sholette: “Dark Matter: Activist Art and the Counter-Public Sphere”

Click to access 05_darkmattertwo.pdf

Javier Toret y Nicolás Sguiglia: “Cartografía y máquina de guerra”

3Cs_Maribel Casas-Cortés y Sebastián Cobarrubias:
“A la deriva por los circuitos de la máquina cognitiva”

Amador Fernández-Savater, Marta Malo de Molina, Marisa Pérez Colina, Raúl Sánchez Cedillo: “Ingredientes de una onda global”

Click to access 1969-2bis.pdf

Marcelo Expósito: “La imaginación política radical. El arte, entre la ejecución virtuosa y las nuevas clases de luchas”

Click to access 1969-1.pdf

Etcétera + Internacional Errorista

La Comunitaria TV

What, How & for Whom (WHW)



Centro Social Casa de Iniciativas



Indymedia Estrecho

Oficina de Derechos Sociales (ODS) Sevilla

Ateneu Candela

[mapping madrid] ya esta alquilado!

sebastian+maribel (+little gabriel) here starting the communication from mayrit. The first post from madrid is related to the housing situation in spain. This may not be as acute an issue in other countries of the European Union, but urban development is a big deal currently in spain. Just to give you an idea, the EU cannot complete the Kyoto protocol on C02 emissions because of the cement production that is used for construction in spain. Despite these high rates in housing construction, the lack of access to housing is one of the most striking in Spain&amp;rsquo;s recent history [and has actually been denounced by a UN representative on housing]. Young people with precarious labor situations are suffering these current contradictions the most. In our apartment search in madrid we (slightly) lived through that stressful situation during several months of search, first via internet, and then, in situ. . The prices are amazingly high, and not only that, everything is rented within what can seem like seconds of posting a &amp;ldquo;for rent&amp;rdquo; add in the local newspaper or the major internet renting sites. After identifying the affordable and convenient ones at 7am when the newspapers go out, the round of calls started. Many of them started up by saying: Ya esta alquilado! It is already rented.