The 2020-21 Bordeaux Dérive
150 years later: an enlightened response to the
Paris Commune 0f 1871?)
Photography dated March 18, 1871 of a barricade, rue d ' Germany and rue Sevastopol, during the Paris Commune. At the time of the Paris Commune, the French government under the abominable President Adolphe Thiers after defeat in the Franco-Prussian war had moved to Bordeaux. A little later Thiers prepared a deadly counter attack against the Parisian insurgents. After 150 years has there now been a pleasant about turn from Bordeaux honouring the Paris Commune?
(For a new and interesting comment on the time of the Paris Commune it’s worth reading the following from TŘÍDNÍ VÁLKA:
The Paris Commune: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Paris in 1870-1871:
ABOVE: November 2021and the cops charge demonstrators in Bordeaux
The backdrop to the Bordeaux derive initially was a response to the ‘revolt’ of the prestigious but conservative cultural sector in French society and still regarded with high profile worldwide. Indeed it was “cultural professionals” supporting “the world of culture” who kicked it off on March 4th 2021 in a bid to “re-open cultural places”. Agh, pretty dull and dumb stuff indeed but their tepid mobilisation rapidly got more than somewhat out of hand as a big student response materialised. By March 15th more than 40 cultural centres were occupied throughout France with many students saying they were intent on breaking out of “our comfort zone” in “these more than complicated times”. The Bordeaux theatre was occupied but alas –first time round - for merely a week as heavily armed cops rapidly intervened. Student bodies quickly opened up agitational face book pages asking for people preferably not affiliated to parties or unions to come and join them along with gilets jaunes (yellow vests) to nurses to the unemployed and precariat. Elsewhere one or two face books exhorted the big CGT, Communist party union to take part. On a general level the participants wanted to open up the occupied theatres to all those pissed off with the present impossible state of things, “culturally creative or not, for those who want real action on climate collapse, who are against appalling housing conditions”, etc. And then the subversive drift - at least in Bordeaux - really begins. “Opening up [culture] is essential. But for whom? For what? For what kind of world? What utopias? What dreams?
Around the same time it was reported ‘vandals’ broke into a locked down Marseille football club and went on a wrecking spree with some allegedly shouting “football is dead” no doubt highlighting the destructive ultra-monetisation of the once “beautiful game” more than say “football to the footballers” wall slogan from 1968. How true is this Marseille incident (?) but when new tremors take off expect the unexpected ........
In further resonances of the May ‘68 uprising in France some of the participants saw the occupations of the theatres (the Odeon in Paris –of 68’ fame - was again occupied) as the gateway to the occupation of all university facilities and even what’s left of factories. Various posters proclaimed this. Well, it didn’t happen but shit It's worth a try!
As an interesting aside these truly subversive autonomous face books were instantly threatened with internet shut down. So CEO Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t / isn’t just anti Trumpist right wingers but MORE IMPORTANTLY is dead set against genuine, liberatory subversion.......
Above: On January 15th 2021 the Bordeaux Derive claims that “the university is dead and it’s been happening for some time, adding later “the transmission of knowledge is seen only in its profitable aspects.”
“This place cannot be reduced to a single political identity. The opera is for everyone and the occupants are eclectic / heterogeneous. Everything has to be re-built and everyone is invited to think, to share, to create, to engage, to dream, to express, disagreements, to rant, to meet....General Assemblies are held every day at noon” (March 24th 2021)
Also notice the hanging banner on a spectator’s gallery in the background calling for ZAD’s EVERYWHERE
adds the following fascinating material on the rebellion............
“Much of this in the name of re-starting work against Covid restrictions and the defence of the glories of French culture, but these posters are quite good, at least in their sense of life and spirit”
Below: Translation of above poster:
Commune, 18th March 2021.
1.Considering that the Grand Theatre of Bordeaux was where the National Assembly
retreated to at the time of the Paris Commune in 1871
2.That this place was the sanctuary of bourgeois conservatism, evicting the
popular classes,hiding the workers backstage
3.That the Grand Theatre, representing bourgeois culture, did not wait for covid for
there to be social distancing
4.Considering that the exploitation of art by power can only produce a dead culture
5.Considering that culture ceaselessly renews the infamous separation between the
learned and the ignorant
6. that begging for a work contract is contrary to the principle of emancipation and
contributesto imprisoning our imagination;
7. that work is a place of forced compromise and soft servility;
8.Considering that the prefectures evict massively, destroying each place andthus
their ways of living;
9.that all negotiation with the state and its actors is just a masquerade, serving only
to dissimulate the fires of repression
Considering the current devastation of the world –
Article 1: The Grand Theatre will play the first stage of the Bordeaux Commune of 2021
Article 2: The spectacle must not be the pretty reflection of a disgusting life but it’s life
itself that must interfere with the stage
Article 3: Our desires are an art that shouldn’t be conserved behind glass
Article 4: Long live free art, totally naked, crude, large, sexy and ugly, refined and
fat,chocolate, pistachio and vanilla, savagely, despicably and
Article 5: Every idiot is a genius in their own domain
Article 6: The borders of art must be destroyed, leaving in their place free parties,
clandestine bars, wildcat carnivals, backrooms, gigantic feasts and
Article 7: We are irrational and want to trample on our imposed work tools. R.I.P
Bachelot [Minister of Culture]
Article 8: Occupation of the town centres by the invisible hordes evicted by the
Article 9: No prefecture is on our side
Article 10: Walls aren’t for decoration, they are meant to be lived in
Article 11: As long as judges and prosecutors aren’t drag queens we will not believe
Article 12: We want everything immediately and that it should be complete, otherwise
we will refuse it
Article 13: The uprising of the Earth
The intermission is over – it’s the hour of the final act
THE BORDEAUX COMMUNE
(Nonetheless, it’s not quite as good as October 10th 1966 when a handful of young guys and gals describing themselves as Black Mask called for the closure of MoMA handing out a leaflet headed: “DESTROY THE MUSEUMS. OUR STRUGGLE CANNOT BE HUNG ON WALL”, etc, etc)
Seeing it is nigh on impossible to read this poster in reproduction here’s what it says......
We are tired of the same shit making news. it has become a banal routine. One place after another. Another institution, another oligarch art-washing their death-dealing profiles, with women bearing the brunt of it all. This is not a PR crisis or just another matter of toxic philanthropy. MoMA is a frontline of gendered and racialised class war and we all have a responsibility to act.
Letters, pleas and backroom deals are not enough. After the removal of Kanders from the Whitney, after the George Floyd rebellion, after the open declaration of war by Fascists seeking to salvage white heteropatrichical rule, we must do and demand more. Board members are not the problem. They only made the problem visible. MoMA in its entirety is the problem. Perhaps it’s time to abolish MoMA.
MoMA was funded with the oil wealth of the Rockefellers. Since then, the museum has been a clearing house for capital, a show case for domination. And an ecocidal machine. It has diversified in content but in practice it has been an enemy of the poor and the marginalised, the fired and the furloughed, the displaced and the dispossessed, the detained and the deported, the dying and the dead. After the recent uprisings, MoMA and other cultural institutions are scrambling to proclaim their commitment to justice, diversity and equity. How can institutions claim such values with predatory billionaires controlling it? Even visionary exhibitions like Marking Time, Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration cannot escape this contradiction.
Various campaigns and actions have said this in recent years. MoMA is anti-Woman and Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-migrant, anti-Worker. Not simply because MoMA has failed to be truly inclusive in its collection or programming or staffing. But because MoMA, as an institution harbouring the likes of Leon Black and Larry Fish, is complicit in oppression globally, from the burning of the Amazon to migrant detention camps to gentrification and mass displacement, to the exploitation of women and children. If left unchallenged MoMA will continue to pose a danger to humanity and the planet at large.
So what would it mean to abolish MoMA, and who will undertake this task? Such an effort require us all. A stakeholder-led decolonisation process could be a way forward to deal with this history. Absent such an initiative, we encourage self-organised actions so that MoMA will see the writing on the walls. Here is a Decolonial Operation Manual for people who wish to act autonomously. We remind the general public that the MoMA building is open every day of the week from 10.30am to 5.30 pm.
Plus the latest from Bordeaux
On the 15th of April 2021 there was a march in Bordeaux against the
pressures of Real Estate and the Death of Culture
Meanwhile in northern France, Fridays of Wrath
Video (4 '20' ').Fridays of Wrath
When supermarkets become concert halls and festive places. Action at the Cora d'Alès Lidl supermarket on Friday April 9th by the occupants of the Crater in Alès (Gard).
Non-Essential Action - Act II:
“Angry Fridays” are now becoming occasions for imaginative, truly creative disruption involving precariously employed “Intermittents” who previously in pre-plague times were insecurely employed in the culture /hospitality sector. (In fact these disruptions are far more creative and life enhancing than anything the Intermittents were previously employed to do as mundane, lifeless ‘artistic’ entertainers). Now to vent their anger at tawdry government financial support as well as total opposition to President Macron’s proposed and even more draconian “unemployment insurance law” the Intermittents have taken to the streets. Here they have dressed up (heavily and playfully disguised) for an intervention at a local Lidl supermarket on the road to Mons. The YouTube film really is uplifting. Moreover, it seems these gals and guys have intelligently revived the spirit of the 1970s Italian “auto-reduction” movement by putting their own price on things as they approach the supermarket counter with a trolley load of food to be redistributed to those who have fuck all dosh. Alas management and their heavies wouldn’t literally concede a bean.....