Next Five Minutes: the Program & the State of Sabotage

[Next Five Minutes: the Program & the State of Sabotage]

Amsterdam, again: Before we begin, a word on this critique: often it is easy, as Critical Art Ensemble notes in their essay in the N5M Reader, to critique each other, to see each other as competitors in the activist field rather than complementary tactics, a tactics of difference, even. All my words here are meant to, in all their criticism where it shines, point to places where improvements can be made. Despite the blunders of the opening evening of N5M, and the general difficulties in breaking through the barriers of a somewhat elite--and by this I mean the ways in which several speakers appear on several panels, instead of opening up the program to more diverse voices--and the terribly confusing Festival program guide (a complete disaster, themeatically organised with no easy way to find out WHAt is on WHEN and WHERE with a short EXPLANATION)--despite all of this, N5M is worthwhile, a massive effort and undertaking, if not a risky undertaking, and the level of participation from attendees that must span almost every continent save Antarctica cannot be forgotten... all this critique is only attempting, perhaps, to deflate some of the rhetoric found on the website and the program. Afterall, I come out of indie journalism, and I tell it like it is--including with "my own side."

So I also stand by the comment that Wilfried is a Pythagorean farmer.

State of Sabotage-
And where are we at, here in Amsterdam? Last night I went to check out the State of Sabotage installation / performance at Melkweg. SoS, formed by Robert Jelinek in 1992, is one of those all-encompassing surreal projects that, in my mind, brings out the potential of reality-subversion and generation... SoS is an artist's non-territory, and yet, as of only a few months ago, now has its own actual, physical territory in Australia. HR Giger even made the official boots which have been planted on the highest point in the land of the Aussie Outback now known as Baldrockistan. And yes--you can apply for a passport. The performance took place in the Melkweg club, where tables were set up on the dancefloor below a massive Mongolian tent on-stage. We then went and received our bowls of the National Dish, which appeared to be bortsch of some kind, and munched on the chemically-treated maraschino cherries. All the while, Pommasl treated us to sinecore and glitch-IDM at high volume, while Jelinek sat at the Consulate table, selling SoS wares including CDs of Sos music, passports, books and writings, etc. From the program:

'At the "Next 5 Minutes" festival, SoS will present its national dish and lay claim to visitors’Äô abdominal territory. On September 12 in Melkweg / Amsterdam the national dish will be dispensed to visitors and remain in their colons forever. This dish is the maraschino cherry, specially engraved with SoS typography. Maraschino cherries are produced with a chemical that, like formaldehyde, is neither assimilated nor dissolved, but must travel as a lifetime stowaway in the cargo hold of the bowel, like the Flying Dutchman’Äôs seabags. The two-hour performance (or communion) will take place on stage in and around a Mongolian yurt, festively accompanied by the electronic sounds of DJ Pomassl. Inside the yurt, guests and visitors will find a temporarily installed SoS consulate/embassy where they can acquire SoS citizenship as well as passports. The word "AMIKEJO" means "Plaza of Great Friendship" and can be traced back to the micronation of "Neutral Moresnat." The one-time mini-state of "Neutral Moresnat," with the ambition of becoming an Esperanto state, staked out between 1815-1919 the international four-corner point on Walserberg (322m), today the highest mountain of Holland.'

The event was truly surreal, even weirder still when Mr. Holzer and I started drinking enough to debate about Bakhtin, Latvia, and the Russian Volk. But before that happened, I witnessed a sharp scene.. earlier, a screening of a 'documentary' video marking the SoS territory was shown, complete with chanting, HR Giger and information on the land. What was disappointing, in my eyes, was the ways in which aborigines were (barely) mentioned, save only as a relic: a picture from the late 1800s showed a few members of the area's original inhabitants, but nothing followed as to their current position in the claiming of Baldrockistan for the SoS, an act which, despite its immediate creativity and seriousness, could also be seen as a furthering of Euro neo-colonisation via "art." These issues appear to have been raised by an interlocutor (I am sorry I don't know her name, I only caught the tale end...), who went up to Jelinek after the film and engaged in what seemed to be a heated discussion. All I heard was, at the end, "next time I want to see aborigines in the film"--and with this I have to agree; despite my enjoyment of the SoS performance, its surrealism, its weird occult feel, it cannot pretend to escape the issue of territory--and the power of territorialization--in the context of aboriginal land, the whole of Australia.

the Missing Cable
Unfortunately what appears to be a missing cable connecting my digital camera to my laptop has managed to stymie plans to post the pictures, films and audio I have been gathering. These will appear upon my return, unless the cable is found. Dammit! .. & worse, the connection from Steim can't seem to jive with the server, so I have to head out to de Balie to post.

Just In...
Something like 72 police officers have just been charged in the bloody, violent and almost murderous raid against the IndyMedia Centre and its sleeping occupants during Genoa 2001. I just spoke to a British journalist, Mark Covell, who was almost murdered when he tried to flee... and ran into 250 carabinieri and police outside the centre, and consequently was almost beaten to death. He's currently trying to find a flight to Rome--tomorrow, where he plans to ask for a parliamentary inquiry. Here's his story from the Guardian:

'A fifth Briton is still in hospital in Genoa. Mark Covell, a web designer for the Genoa protesters' IndyMedia site, told how he and a friend had heard the police coming and tried to escape from the school. He sensed rather than saw an estimated 300 riot police sprinting towards him from both ends of the street.

"A carabinieri whacked me in the neck and with his shield pushed me against the wall," he said. "I fell to the ground and four or five carabinieri started kicking me, really hard, in the chest, legs, back.

"I had my arms up, saying 'don't hit me, I'm not resisting arrest'. I could say it only in English so I suppose they couldn't understand that. There was this extraordinary sound as they beat their shields and charged."

Then he was beaten for a second time. "I heard my ribs break, like snapping matchsticks. I was still conscious at this stage. They take a running jump at you like kicking a football." Somebody dragged him by the neck to the front of the school and he was beaten again. "That was by far the worst. I thought, my God, this is it, I'm going to die."

He tried to remain lying on his right side. He said: "I knew if I turned over I would die. And I thought that if I could just keep one eye open I would stay alive."

He lost consciousness and woke up in the San Martino hospital. He had five broken ribs, some of which pierced his lung and possibly a ruptured spleen. He has not been able to stand up since and lost 10 teeth.

The police had wanted him moved to the military wing of the hospital but doctors dissuaded them. Mr Covell said: "I want the carabinieri charged with attempted murder. I didn't mind their beating me the first time but the second and third time they tried to kill me." '

posted. Sat - September 13, 2003 @ 06:35 PM           |