Global Recistance

Global Recistance

Between 2001 and 2003, Oriana Eliçabe has kept track of the anti-globalisation actions that took place during the international summits of Genoa, New York, Barcelona, Cancun, etc. The author shows, from within the demonstrators side, some of the moments of the protest.


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IMAGES OF THE GLOBAL RESISTENCE: NOBODY KNOWS WHAT A BODY IS ABLE TO DO

Author: Marcelo Expósito
Translator: Marta Tallada

Everybody has seen, for some years now, in the press, on television, in the seminars illustrated with many colours, the images of groups of young people wearing colourful disguises. Innocent young people, charged maybe with reasons, but also with pipe dreams; dancing, nice and inoffensive bodies, jumping in front of the police as if it was a great party, foolishly travelling the world in search for the next summit.
Everybody has also seen the other abject: anonymous disguised people, dressed in black, opaque bodies that destroy and devastate without reason. Many people have seen, in the militant reports, countless terrifying images of police violence over broken, unarticulated bodies.
Some of us are tired of seeing the other well meaning documents where people gesture and talk in never-ending assemblies, where
disfigured faces, portrayed in impossible frames theorise and postulate planning the umpteenth desirable future.
We have seen too many times these images which vision makes one state, perplexed and slightly downhearted: I have not been there, I do not recognise myself. None of them gets close to represent what a body is able to do.

One day, late at night, while dreaming, Oriana captured the image of the Carlini Stadium (Genoa, Italy) during the demonstration against the G8 summit. The sunlight filter through the canvas of a large tent to bathe a sea of sleeping bodies whose silhouettes fade. Hours later, the latent strength of that brotherhood of resting bodies breaks out: arms holding protections that sentence the city’s freedom, taken by police and army forces; blurred bodies in tear gas clouds who get away or dare to gather and throw the cans back; soft, sensual, beautiful, challenging, carnival-like bodies who dance the rhythm of an unstoppable music in the middle of the punishment charges of the mechanical anti-riot forces.
The anti-globalisation movement in Seattle bloomed in a moment that glimpses a new cycle of social fights over the planet. Its political work tools, its new grammatical, its representation systems have pulverised the old left wing’s ideas: where some people would like to see a mythical unity again, many others work for proliferation; for a protean movement where the political individuals are mouldable, fluent, contingent, open, plural and diverse in a strong sense: their appearance even contradictory and non-reducible. In Seattle, the vast number and variety of action and intervention spots throughout the city was beyond the control forces. In Prague, a massive unitary demonstration, starting from a certain point, divided into three differently coloured flows (yellow, blue, pink; black, in proper route) that distinguished different confrontation and disobedience strategies, which ended up surrounding, in an antagonist embrace, the congress centre that housed the meeting between the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and paralysed it. In Genoa, the convergence of a diversity of individuals, groups and movements in the Carlini caused the experience constituting a complex political individual.
In Genoa, also, the most powerful people on earth funded without hesitation a civil war on a small scale that has remained inlayed, like a splinter, in the mind of a whole generation. The subsequent strategy of horror (searches and massive tapings, threats in private, more or less toned violence, systematic control and identification), in the charge of the United States, which has undergone in the last year mobilisations in Brussels, Barcelona, Zaragoza or Sevilla, is also addressed to our bodies: it seeks to make us feel a chronic fear of a constant and sometimes imprecise threat; it intends to make us internalise guilt and assume half-underground even in the most public and innocent activities; it wants the body to grit, immobilise, control itself. It wants to override our strength.
The desire of the current movement of movements, in its true part, is to not conquer a future political power, but to identify and disperse all the power ways here and now, wherever they gather or whenever it is necessary: in a political summit, and also in other centres of decision making, including ours; in daily life, at home, in your affinity group, in your feelings, in your sexuality, in your own body. The new movements, when they are really new, do not seek to hold the power: they try to set strength free.
When one has been there, when one has taken part of the new images, one knows that the old representations of unitary blocks are untenable in massive, more or less uniform demonstrations headed by banners that show worn and rhetorical sentences. When one has been there, one knows that the jumble of sensations and feelings of pleasure, fury, rage, sensuality, happiness, fear, dread, desire, solidarity, mutual support, hope and freedom, cannot be reduced to one-dimensional or simplifying images. One knows that a copy of the classic anarchist flag, reconverted to black and pink colours, is a simple and fair political symbol that transmutes the old into new. One knows that the tactic frivolity dressed in pink or silver is much more than a lucky sentence or an eye-catching image, when decomposing, through the unexpected, the strategy of political tension during a confrontation on the street.
The new symbols lead to strong identifications: all transformation social movements have built through history their own representation systems and their own identification processes. It is necessary to work hard so that the new figurations are not reduced to striking, grotesque or nice images or to mere adornments of the old politics. The construction of these new representations and images, and the maintenance of its fair political meaning, is an essential part, today more than ever, of the very fight. It is, literally, an issue of political imagination.
The images of bodies in action, when they are fair, constitute the expression of desiring individuals; perhaps momentarily, punctually free: but that, in its contingency, represents the expectations of a present which the maximum amount of truth, freedom and autonomy time possible must be wrested from.
If Oriana images are fair, exact, that is because they show that there are arms that go up against every planned future. Because they maintain the required distance and the respect in front of the body of a boy murdered by the police (no massacred body should be object of visual recreation, even if the intentions are the best; no image should leave aside, isolate, the body of a dead man to turn it into a generic symbol). Because they light what spectacular images darken: the net plot of individuals who constitute, disperse and mould again. Because they point to strength and not power; they show dispersion and articulation; they emphasise proliferation and diversity versus uniformity.
There is nothing more beautiful than the faces of free people. Portraying them is precisely part of our political job. Because there is much left for us to experiment, and because nobody knows yet, exactly, what a body is able to do.

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