How can Madrid regional government allow millionaire Sheldon Adelson to turn now 750 hectares of rural land into a mega-city with four resorts housing 3,000 rooms each, shopping malls, convention centres, and casinos…? Again? Didn’t we have enough? Madrid region has accepted to reduce the gambling tax from 40% to 10%, special offer for Mr Adelson. High-rise buildings without any height limit, special offer for Mr Adelson. And smoking allowed in his buildings, contrary to the law that is effective in the rest of the country. It is also very remarkable to see which landowners will profit from the sale of the site to build it (map below).
^ Landowners who would profit from selling the rural land necessary to build Eurovegas via burbuja.info
How do politicians dare to justify Eurovegas as the final solution to the crisis and austerity measures, just at the same time when the President of the country and several ministers are suspicious of having constantly received slush money from real estate investors during the past decade? [source> The Economist]
What if Spain had been living in an undeclared state of exception since 1997, date when the speculative Land Law that led to the current situation was passed? Urban planning legislation, meant to protect the urbanization of a territory, has not been officially suspended, but constantly shaped to certain interests of those in power.
As G. Agamben argues, the State of Exception rather than being a provisional measure became a working paradigm of government in the course of the 20th century. ‘The state of exception separates the norm from its application in order to make its application possible.’ He brilliantly begins his book with the Latin quote: ‘Why are you jurists silent about that which concerns you?’.
Could Madrid government be smart enough to oblige Mr Adelson to include high-tech research labs as a requirement to build his casinos instead of providing millionaire tax exemptions?
Nice evening to watch Berlanga’s Welcome, Mr Marshall! Franco died, yes, but we are still stuck in 1953.
Makes me feel terribly worried and scared about the current wave of ongoing privatisations of education, justice and national health system in Spain. The real estate bubble and consequent financial burst post-2007 are being ferociously used to approve ‘disaster capitalist’ measures favoring a minority of oligarchs, arguing that it is the only way of solving the crisis they generated.
‘In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world– through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.
At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts…. New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters — to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.
Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism – the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock – did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.
The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.’
My top six harmonious interventions at 13th Venice Biennale deal with noise, somewhere between the random and the unwanted, what we don’t want to hear and what we don’t want to see: the noise of those under power, the noise of those in power, the noise of the powerless; the noise of a building, the noise of the inhabitants of a building, the noise of the politically incorrect.
^ With Unmediated Democracy Demands Unmediated Space, Croatian National Participation [Igor Bezinović, Hrvoslava Brkušić, Boris Cvjetanović, Siniša Labrović and Pulska grupa] proposes a post-capitalist manifesto to really hear each other and create new ways of operating resources. By looking at civil struggles, student protests going on since 2009, the so-called “Forum for Space” and their concept of KOMUNAL, they proclaim:
We imagine city as a collective space which belongs to all those who live in it an who have the right to find there conditions for their political, social, economic and ecological fulfilment at the same time assuming duties and solidarity. This concept of the city is blocked by capitalist dialectic based on public and private ownership. From these two poles, State and Market emerge as the only two subjects. We want to escape this dialectic, not to focus on the “third subject”, but on a group of collective subjectivities and the common they produce. We understand common as non-material value produced through differences, communication and social interaction. Only if these common values manage to escape being captured by the capitalist public-private dialectic they keep their non-material value open and they have the potential to become productive, to become means of production.
We understand KOMUNAL as the land where common value, once it is transformed from non-material to use value cannot be exploited and turned into exchange value. Therefore, this common territory exists outside current forms of city exploitation based on property and land speculation. It bases its general values in the field of access, use, activity or care.
Word KOMUNAL was traditionally used for natural resources, which were managed by self-organized users. This kind of space managing is more and more frequent in the abandoned spaces in the city where different autonomous zones are emerging. Although these zones exist today on the social margins we consider them potential places for appearance of new utopias and collective imagination. Let us try then to imagine a different way of operating spatial resources, distributing surplus value and creating our own institutions.
^ Image of a City in late Capitalism. Red Plan Pula by Pulska grupa. Croatian Pavilion.
^ The Kingdom of Bahrain’s participation, as brilliant as in 2010, presents how the image of the country is broadcasted internationally for political and economic purposes, thus creating an imaginary vision of a territory. With In Your Living Room – On TV Landscapes And The Urban Imaginary, Bahrain’s contemporary history is revisited through relevant events for the international community, such as exposing the new Mina Salman Port to the world through the arrival of Queen Elizabeth in 1979 by ship. We are reminded how the spontaneous appearance of un-iconic landscapes in international media offer an intentionally biased portrait for economic powers.
^ Awarded the Golden Lion for the Best Project of the Common Ground Exhibition, Torre David / Gran Horizonte, is Urban-Think Tank’s proposal to present the informal community in an abandoned and unfinished office tower in Caracas, Venezuela. As they refer to it, this ruin-turned-home they encourage contemporary architects and planners to look at these examples for further collaboration with informal actors. For the Biennale, Torre David is presented as a [highly recommendable!] Venezuelan arepa restaurant surrounded by raw brick walls hanging photographs by Iwan Baan, creating a genuinely social space rather than a didactic exhibition space.This installation has become controversial in the Venezuelan architectural community. Many are dismayed that the nation’s architectural accomplishments are “represented” by a never-completed and “ruined” work; others argue that the exhibit condones the Venezuelan government’s tacit and explicit support of illegal seizure and occupation of property. It’s nonetheless remarkable how Western countries acknowledge and award the social potential of squatting in developing societies, while Occupy London-New York-Madrid were not even mentioned in the same Architecture show.
^ Making The Walls Quake As If They Were Dilating With The Secret Knowledge Of Great Powers. Katarzyna Krakowiak’s piece in the Polish Pavilion, curated by Michał Libera and awarded a Special Mention by the Jury, uses this beautiful title to state how Architecture is built of sound: It is what makes the diffusion of sound possible – absorbing, filtering, and transferring it, amplifying some of its components at the expense of others. Enclosed spaces are room tones, while niches are specific echoes. The ventilation and heating systems are a quiet yet constant noise, whereas windows and walls are the filtered sounds of street bustle, the buzzing of cicadas, or neighbor’s living rooms.
The pavilion is used as a resonator to amplify a sort of soundtrack of the cracks. The exhibition is grounded with an exquisite publication assembling texts on Sounds in/through/of Architecture: reverberation – eavesdropping – vibration.
^ In 100, a table fills the centre of the scene; we cannot but walk around it. But the main stage is not in the middle of the room. It is on the narrow aisle left between this gigantic table and the walls. Visitors to the Serbian Pavilion decisions to smash, bang, tap or clap against the table surface with certain force put each actor right on the spot. Speakers amplify these onomatopoeic gestures and turn them extremely audible for everyone in the room, catching attention from the rest. As Igor Marićdescribes it: Are we alone against everyone or alone with everyone? […] The interior becomes an exterior, we are not surrounded by empty walls but by architecture with either in between, emptiness and fullness, the definitiveness of the placed object becomes a diversity of perception. Movements make the space pulsate, sound fill the silence, we touch the surface, we look at each other and hear each other. Does it separate or join us?
^ Finally, the controversial Pigeon Safariproject, orchestrated by Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck, consists of around 60 Venetian grey pigeons coloured with food dye in red, blue, purple and green tones and released again in the city. Colour is harmless and wears off after 6 weeks. The initiative has increased current discussions on the issue of pigeons damaging architectural heritage with their acidic droppings, especially in Venice, as well as the methods through which city councils are getting rid of hundreds of them.
They came with helmets on their heads and the worried look of men with no future on their faces. But the Spanish coalminers who marched through Madrid on Wednesday were clear that they would not give up on their life-or-death struggle for the future of their collieries.
“We’ll keep going and, if nothing happens, the fight will just get harder,” said Jórge Exposito, a miner from Mieres, northern Spain, as fireworks crackled and twitchy riot police stood by with shields and guns loaded with rubber bullets.
A tense standoff saw occasional police charges, rubber bullets, and demonstrators hurling objects at police. At least 76 people were injured in clashes along Madrid’s central Castellana Boulevard, but the march eventually ended with nothing more violent than a rousing singsong.
The miners had arrived in the hope that the centre-right government of Mariano Rajoy could be persuaded to return to a programme of subsidies to mining companies that has been dramatically chopped by 60% this year.
Instead, the prime minister devoted the morning to announcing a further austerity package to save the government €65bn (£51bn) over the next two and a half years.
“All we are asking for is that they stick to the agreement,” said Isidro Castro, a former miner from the northern region of Leon. “That is not so difficult. If the mining companies don’t get their subsidies this year there will be nothing to negotiate next year as they will have to close.”
Tens of thousands of people turned out on Tuesday night to greet the miners who, with their helmet lanterns ablaze, strode into the city’s central Puerta del Sol, famous as the centre of Spain’s indignado protest movement.
Many see the miners as in the vanguard of the fight against austerity measures which were made still more drastic on Wednesday and threaten to deepen a double-dip recession.
But the government argues that Spain’s coalmines are making losses and EU rules do not allow it to subsidise them for much longer.
Orbits of Responsibility for a War Crime from a Bosnian mine to London’s Olympic Park
On July 2 2012 London’s Olympic tower — the ArcelorMittal Orbit — will be reclaimed as A Memorial in Exile by survivors of the Bosnian concentration camp at Omarska, now a fully-functional mine operated by ArcelorMittal. Iron ore and profits extracted from Omarksa have been used to manufacture London’s newest landmark.
Details of Press Conference: Monday 2 July 2012 from 2-3pm Location 64 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1NG (East London Centre) Walking commentary and view of the ArcelorMittal Orbit at Warton & Loop Roads (Olympic Park perimeter) from 3-4pm
(see map below)
From 1990-1992, the Omarska mine in Prijedor, Bosnia was used as a concentration camp by Bosnian Serb forces. At least 3,334 Bosniaks and Croats from Prijedor were imprisoned in the Omarska camp, 700-800 were killed.
In 2004, ArcelorMittal assumed 51% of the ownership of the Ljubija mining complex that included Omarska and resumed commercial mining operations.
In 2005, ArcelorMittal made a commitment to finance and build a memorial on the grounds of Omarska.
Seven years on and twenty years after the war crimes committed there, still no space of public commemoration exists.
Grounds, buildings, and equipment that were once used for the perpetration of these crimes now serve a commercial enterprise run by the world’s largest steel producer.
On 14 April 2012, Mladen Jelača, Director of ArcelorMittal Prijedor confirmed to Professor Eyal Weizman, of Goldsmiths, University of London and artist Milica Tomic of the Monument Group, Belgrade, that iron ore mined at Omarska mine has been used in the fabrication of the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
In the absence of this promised memorial, and until such time that it is built, London’s Olympic tower — the ArcelorMittal Orbit — will be reclaimed as the Omarska Memorial in Exile.
SPEAKERS: Survivors from the Omarska / Prijedor camps: Satko Mujagic, Sudbin Music, Fikret Alic, Mirsad Duratovic (note their organizational affiliations) Srdjan Hercigonja, Milica Tomic, Antonia Majaca, (Four Faces of Omarska Belgrade), Adisa Pamukcic, Susan Schuppli, Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Ed Vulliamy (journalist) Please join our press conference and help to bring awareness to this issue. With the Olympics fast approaching ArcelorMittal has a significant window of opportunity to make things right!
For co-ordination write to us at the following email: forensic.architecture (at) gold.ac.uk
PERFORMING POLITICS is a series of events. talks, spontaneous workshops, social and perceptual experiments, the main focus of which is the grey areas between art and architecture and their critical spatial practices operating at different levels, scales, and interactive modes.
As space practioners activating space… In light of the 2012 post-utopian crisis… Because we live in a feeling without….
PERFORMING POLITICS will happen inside of a 2 day schedule where the ideas generated and disccused will be transformed by the participants into things done. The two days event happens inside a 4 week event in Templehof, a ‘worlds fair’. One of the goals of the worlds fair is subvert the possibilty of a real worlds fair from ever taking place in Templehof and permantenly altering the space and vibrant social fabric in the commuities around the public space. The World Is Not Fair – Die Grosse Weltausstellung 2012 is being organized by Raumlabor, HAO (Hebbel Am Ufer), and Christof Gurk.
The architectural collective raumlaborberlin, in cooperation with Hebbel am Ufer, create a counter proposal to the format of the “Expo.” Under the title The World is Not Fair – The Great World’s Fair 2012, a tour with 15 pavilions will be set up for exploration on the grounds of the former airport in Tempelhof from June 1–24, 2012.
These pavilions are not to be understood as state agents for national branding, but instead as places of highly subjective artistic and political reflection. Beyond the boundaries of cultural disciplines, architects, theater artists, performers, and visual artists will seek to examine ideas, systems, and phenomena by which even the most outlying cultures are now globally connected with each other. What will be exhibited is not the world as it is or should be, but how we perceive, understand, and interpret it. Can it still be represented and negotiated as a totality at all?
7th june;14,00-14,15 :introduction
14,15-15,30 IVAN ARGOTE
15,30-15,45 questions / break
15,45-17,00 PETRIT HALILAJ
17,00-17,15 questions / break
17,15-18,30 KLARA HOBZA
18,30-18,45 questions / break
18,45-20,00 INTELIGENCIAS COLECTIVAS
20,00-21,00 questions – round table – beers
8th june:14,00-14,15 :introduction
14,15-15,15 SOMETHING FANTASTIC
15,15-15,30 questions / break
15,30-16,30 LUZ BROTO
16,30-16,45 questions / break
16,45-17,45 TODO POR LA PRAXIS (TXP)
17,45-18,00 questions / break
18,00-19,00 PHILIPPE VAN WOLPUTTE
19,15-19,30 questions/ break
20,30-21,30 questions – round table – beers
The Institut für Raumexperimente is an educational research project by Prof. Olafur Eliasson, affiliated to the College of Fine Arts at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and supported by the Einstein Foundation Berlin.
‘41 among the top 50 violent cities are located in Latin America and the Caribbean…Why? It might be related to three decades of neoliberalism and the end of welfare state [...], the economies of extraction, flourishing weapon markets, the culture of fear, violence and war, drug smuggling policies, massive urbanization after forced migratory flows, or a still ongoing colonialism.’
[map by otramérica 2012. data source: CCSPJPAC. My translation]
^ Jesús Gil y Gil in his jacuzzi 1994. Corruption star of the housing bubble in 1990s-2000s Spain. EFE
Trade under inflated values generates economic bubbles. Prices constantly fluctuate and thus become impossible to predict. Like soap bubbles, it is just a matter of time until they burst. A bubble contains the maximum volume within the minimal surface, and the tension of the surface is directly proportional to an ideal stability.
Spanish real estate bubble generated a trend of what could be named as Building without Content. This idea brings Deleuze’s cancerous Body without Organs – associated with true freedom, unstable virtual potentials of the self, endless reproduction of the same pattern -, together with Agamben’s Man without Content orself-annihilation. Analogously, Building without Content (BwC) can be understood either as an object that has had enough from its own content; or as the action of building objects without any content. They are mega- or infra-structures designed to be functional only until the day of the opening, but not rationally planned to last in time. BwC are born dead before birth. Their content consists of speculating with restrictions, rather than aiming to efficiency, functionality, utility or needs. The paradigm of government towards development legitimizes BwC within mediocre economies: create new jobs, reach European standards, become a global reference… As Aguilera Klink defines it, it is the contraposition between the instrumental (aiming a specific use) with the ceremonial (the paraphernalia).
A new web has been launched revealing corruption scandals of architect Santiago Calatrava, and accused, as The Guardian titled it yesterday, for ‘bleeding Valencia dry’. The name of the site created by left party Esquerra Unida is a beautifully dirty pun: calatrava-te-la-clava. In it, we can find a list of disastrous Buildings Without Content, as well as irregularities with his contracts and bills towards public administration budgets.
Here are some other relevant resources on Spanish space of corruption. In Germany, when a politician has plagiarized bits of his PhD, he is obliged to resign. In Spain, when politicians are charged for embezzlement of public funds, they are reelected and can govern again. [Check the updated list of politicians charged with corruption included in the lists of candidates for past election]
A large-scale demonstration by citizens demanding improvements in the democratic system by means of a temporary occupation of one of Madrid’s most representative squares.
<On 15 May 2011, with the Arab Spring as background, and in the context of serious economic crisis and growing disrepute of public institutions, protest marches called by the “¡Democracia Real Ya!” movement, which was united by the slogan, “We are not commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers”, were organised in more than fifty Spanish cities. The demonstrations in Madrid, which ended up with disturbances and police charges, led to a small percentage of the demonstrators deciding spontaneously to continue the protest independently of the original organisers. Early in the morning they set up an improvised camp site in the Madrid square, known as Puerta del Sol.
The aim of the occupation of the Puerta de Sol was to demand thoroughgoing changes in the prevailing political and economic system. Corruption scandals, the rescue of banks with public money, cuts in social spending, the highest unemployment figures in the European Union, precariousness of employment, difficulties of access to decent housing, the reservations about the systems of parliamentary representation, Internet users’ rejection of intellectual property laws, and a long, heterogeneous list of other grievances which appeared during the protests ensured that the initially small camp would expand exponentially.
Withstanding intermittent disappearances, the occupation took over the whole square. It obeyed dynamic impulses which meant that it was constantly adapting to the demands of the moment. Sometimes it took on a the dense morphology of a kasbah, while on other occasions it swiftly folded in on itself to make space for big demonstrations.It consisted of ephemeral, lightweight constructions including tents from commercial brands suitable for spending the night in, and structures built on the spot with discarded materials that then acquired previously unsuspected functions. Ropes, cables, canvas, plastic and sticking tape were applied in ingenious constructions where logistical requirements, for example organising sanitary services, or organisational functions, found shelter. They were also used to put up, with surprising speed, large tents that protected the campers from sun and rain. The constructions also protected, effectively and decisively, spaces of public interest, for example thoroughfares, libraries and crèches. The tents of the occupation were secured with heavy objects, for example flagons full of water so as to avoid damaging the paving of the Puerta del Sol.
Denounced by some as illegal appropriation of urban space and suppressed in the national media, which only mentioned it under pressure from the social networks or the foreign press, the Puerta del Sol occupation disappeared a few weeks after its spontaneous appearance. Cleaning brigades organised by the campers left the pre-existing space as they had found it.The importance of this surprising evanescent city is still difficult to gauge. Its physical and yet dynamic condition situates it halfway between the robustness of urbs and the contingence ofcivitas. However, its legacy shows that the public space of European cities continues to be loaded with the political sense that has made it the scene of dissidence for many centuries. This sense has always questioned the premises of law and order currently in force in order to conquer the civil rights we presently enjoy. It would be rash to think that our democracies are not subject to it also.>
^ Cartography of of the migrant boat tragedy within NATO maritime surveillance areas (early Spring 2011). Source: Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani and SITU Studio, Forensic Architecture (ERC) via the guardian.
A group of 72 sub-Saharan men, women (some pregnant) and children boarded a small inflatable rubber dinghy to scape from Gaddafi’s Libya. They departed from Tripoli on 26 March 2011. Smugglers had been organising migrants to Lampedusa for a theoretical 18-hours trip. After one day, panic rose amongst migrants for running out of fuel and water. They contacted a priest in Rome (Father Zerai) with their satellite phone, who contacted Italian Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre, informing about the situation. He provided the number of the phone to locate them with precision via GPS. A helicopter came and lowered down water bottles and biscuits with a rope from above. Other fishing boats and Nato military vessels were in the area without assisting them. The boat drifted away until it reached back Libyan coast 16 days after their departure with only 11 people on board.
This research is part of Forensic Oceanography, an investigation into the conditions which have caused the death of more than 1500 persons (estimate by UNHCR) in the Central Mediterranean in the Spring of 2011.
CELLTEXTS [Ines & Eyal Weizman, 2008] is an archive of texts, love letters, philosophical statements, letters to mothers, songs, treatises, political manifestos, and novels… written from incarcerated dissidents all around the world. The library uses the writer’s time spent in prison (1 day to 45 years) to organise an amalgam of published knowledge. This makes the cell be read as a space enhancing mental freedom:
< […] The cells are thus revealed as sites of intellectual production, marking the limit condition of writing. The collection is assembled in recognition that spatial confinement and isolation may induce a process of creative, imaginative, sometimes spiritual, cultural production. The individual’s impulse to survive through texts, through reclaiming her own voice against the imposition of others, creates an autarkic realm in which practices of dissidence, political and personal, could be reinstated. Commissioned and designed by and for the state, prison cells acquire a potential subversive content, becoming critical spatial apparatuses. Paradoxically, imprisonment emerges as an active practice of citizenship a mechanism of political opposition that call for a confrontation or intolerance with certain forms of government.
For many prisoners, the prison could offer a period of reflection, scholarship and education as well as a resonating chamber for political dissent. Regis Debray described the Prison as “the dissident’s second university”. Antonio Gramsci was forced to write in code to bypass the constraints of the prison and its censorship. Ezra Pound learns from the Chinese Encyclopedia which he smuggled into his Pisan cage. For Antonio Negri it was the routines of the prison that represented the principal form of punishment in a capitalist society. Auguste Blanqui formulated in the middle of the 19th century, a detailed guide for the armed uprising of the revolutionary multitudes which included sketches and street maps with exact details of barricades. Many writers are fascinated with insects and animals coming into their prison cells. […] >