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Rob's Side

Wednesday 1 May, Genève

May Day. Last day in Geneva! We go to the festivities in Parc de Bastions. Most of the stands are promoting socialist ideas concerning a fair payment for labor, rights and respect for workers. Many people with a red (socialist) flag or label on their clothes saying Renforcement des droits et respect des salaries. Two guys with sandwich boards advertising basic income for every Swiss. 2500,- CHF par mois à chaque citoyen! It is a initiative federale and they have to collect 130.000 signatures. They need about 20.000 more and it will be a fact.


The anarchists of Geneva gathered in front of a podium where bands are playing. It seems they are drunk and having fun. Pierre from bookshop Fahrenheit 451 is also having fun and tells us he decided to continue the bookshop. He had a meeting with friends and they came up with a plan to support Pierre and the bookshop.

Wednesday 24 April, St-Imier / La Chaux-de-Fonds / Lausanne

Full day. Up early, breakfast in Espace Noir. Then we meet Michel Nemitz again because he wants us to see his family history, and reads with a loud voice a text by his grand father who was an anarchist. Very impressive, he reads with great conviction. I have the feeling warped back 100 years as if we hear the voice from the past, from his grand father.

Meeting at 10 o’clock with Catherine Krüttli from Memoire d’Ici to have a closer look at the archive and the legacy of Maurice Born. Last time Michel Némitz explained that there are no original pamphlets and other material in this archive because it was bought by ‘the Dutch’ and is part of the Internationa Institute of Social History (IISG) in Amsterdam. The story goes that in the sixties Arthur Lehning, a Dutch author, historian and anarchist, and friends came to St-Imier to buy anarchist parafenalia (pamphlets, photo’s, newspapers etc). They had put an announcement in the newspaper. So a lot of the families who still had some documents from the time that Bakunin and Kropotkin held their meetings in St-Imier sold it.

But Maurice Born went to Amsterdam to make a copy of a selection of the material that was bought. So now there is a ‘copy’ in Memoire d’Ici. It is not so impressive as it sounds. It is a folder with all the copied documents, catalogued and ordered; everything nicely put into transparent file-sheets. 

In Maurice Born’s photocopied A4-archive we find the famous Bulletin de la Fédération Jurassienne. The first issue was published 15 February 1872 and the first four issues are hand written and printed with a special technique. According to Catherine Krüttli we can find the original in the library of La Chaux-de-Fonds.

The librarian explains they have only a facsimile. The originals are in the archive of Feltrinelli in Milan. Feltrinelli printed 100 copies and the library of La Chaux-de-Fonds has copy number 51. Two big A3 size books with red cover. Copy… original, this can be a really interesting topic to investigate.

In the evening we attend the book presentation at CIRA in Lausanne. I am lost in the French language, and I observe the audience and the speakers. There is some tension in the small space but nobody gets super excited.

Tuesday 23 April, Fribourg

Again in the Jura. For our first meeting we drive to Fribourg to speak with professor Giordano of the university. He is a specialist in trust, the state, and mafia. Is there a fair State?

Giordano is very critical of the Anarchism of St-Imier. He said: ’that became Disney Land Anarchism.’

Saturday 20 April, Genève

To the UN for tour. Man in line comes from Canada and works for a company that provides technology for extraction of shale gas, Shell etc. His company has its headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands because of no trade restrictions. Holland it is neutral, and thus his company can do business with all countries in the world.

Wednesday 17 April, St-Imier

After breakfast Michel takes us to Memoire d’Ici to meet Catherine Krüttli the head curator. This is an archive and Centre de recherché et de documentation du Jura bernois, founded in 2000. We ask if they have original anarchist material from the 19th-century. To our surprise they explain that most of the interesting documents are in Amsterdam in the International Institute for Social History (IISG) because Dutch people came to buy it from the families of St-Imier. In fact they are too late, and now they nurture what they have. We make an appointment for next week.

Tuesday 16 April, St-Imier

La révolution va commencer à St-Imier?

Conversation with Michel Némitz. Michel is in his mid fifties and works at Espace Noir only in the mornings. He only speaks French. If we want to go deeper into Anarchism we have to improve our French, but we manage to speak with him. Nienke is doing quite well with her French. I am struggling but can understand most of what he says, I think. We are recording the conversation so when this is transcribed and translated into English we will have the complete understanding of his ideas. With Google translate I am formulating my questions. I like to know which ideas of anarchism are current today?... Quelles idées de l'anarchisme sont en cours aujourd'hui?  Like we always do we encounter Michel with an open mind. I have some questions and ideas in my head:
>Which ideas of anarchism are now up to date?
>Which ideas of anarchism can help now, and in what form?
>What is the relevance of St-Imier and Anarchism at the moment, or is it tourism?

Anarchism of 140 years ago has many dead men. What I like to know who are those who currently have actual useful ideas? David Gaeber, yes of course, but he doesn't call himself an anarchist.

In the afternoon of to La Chaux-de-Fond to the musee d’Horlogerie to find out more about the relation between Anarchism and time.

Monday 15 April, St-Imier (Jura)

Three days with the anarchists in the Swiss Jura mountains. St-Imier is the birthplace of anarchism. Actually there are three cities that played an important role: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, St-Imier. The St-Imier Anarchist International was created after anti-authoritarian members were expelled from Marx's First International. Bakunin came here and the first congress was held in 1872. Last year in August 2012 the Rencontre Internationale de l'Anarchisme was held celebrating the 140th anniversary of the first congress.

We stay in the guestroom for artists of Espace Noir and have an appointment with Michel Némitz one of the twenty members of the collective to speak about Anarchism in the Jura. Espace Noir is not a squat but a centre autonome or centre d’autogestion founded by Maurice Born, an Architect, environmentalist, anthropologist, writer, director, and editor, now living in Greece.

Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April, Hertenstein

Visit our friends Catherine and Tarcici Schelbert. We have a good time and as always good food, wine, and fun. Sunday evening we make a boat trip on Luzernersee with their beautiful wooden jolly. You stand when you row, like they do in Venice.

We talk about our progress of our research. I tell them that Anarchism coincides with Impressionism and ask them whether they can see if the painter was an anarchist or not. Like Pissarro, Cézanne or Gustav Courbet. Courbet was an anarchist, and fled to Switzerland and lived in exile in La-Tour-de-Peilz where he died from heavy drinking.

But this is an interesting topic we can investigate more. Can you see if an artist is an anarchist or not by looking at his work? Maybe an idea to explore with paintings from the collection of museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

Friday 12 April, Genève

Reading contemporary anarchist literature. One day totally lost in doubt, not knowing what we are looking for, and what we will do with this all; complete loss of hope this will end in... The other day a very clear idea. This morning I came across a quote of Gustav Landauer and had to think of an other by Andrea Fraser. These are two helpful references.

‘One can throw away a chair and destroy a pane of glass but…[only] idle talkers…regard the state as such a thing or as a fetish that one can smash in order to destroy it. The state is a condition, a certain relationship among human beings, a mode of behavior between men [note]; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another…We are the state, and we shall continue to be the state until we have created the institutions that form a real community….’ Gustav Landauer (1870-1919, anarchist thinker and activist)

‘Every time we speak of the “institution” as other than “us”, we disavow our role in the creation and perpetuation of its conditions. We avoid responsability for, or action against, the everyday complicities, compromises, and censorship - above all, self-censorship - which are driven by our own interests in the field and the benefits we derive from it. It’s not a question of inside or outside, or the number and scale of various organized sites for the production, presentation, and distribution of art. It’s not a question of being against the institution: We are the institution. It’s a question of what kind of institution we are, what kind of values we institutionalize, what forms of practice we reward, and what kinds of rewards we aspire to.’

From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique, Andrea Fraser (artist)

Tuesday 9 April, Genève

Conférence de Chris Dercon, directeur de la Tate Modern à Londres, à 18h30. Organisée par les Amis du Mamco.

The space is packed, the people of Geneva are curious to hear Chris speaking about the role of the museum. Three weeks ago Charles Esche came to speak about Van Abbemuseum and his idea of working with the collection as a new practise – but isn't this what museums do and did already? This idea is maybe born out of budget cuts. It is far more cheaper to "work" with your collection instead of producing new works of art. He also talked about the tendency that museums need (want) to grow in order to compete and survive. He calls this capitalistic illness elephantitis, and explains why he is against the free market and neo-liberalism as a validation system for art.
Chris Dercon kicks of with great speed and youthful enthusiasm, and it doesn’t look like he has a problem with growing institutes and neo-liberalism. We are looking at one projected image – and this stays on the screen for a long time. It shows the building activities of the extension of Tate Modern, and Chris tells us with a sense of urgency: ‘Tate has 6 million visitors per year because Tate = free; A museum is a place for live long learning, a secular place for free time; the age of the avant-garde is over, we are in the age of sharing with one another and for one another – here he refers to Boris Groys’ all inclusive; museum is a place for living and learning; the role of the curator is becoming more important; cycle of production and consumption is closed; art is a sponge (he already said this in an interview with us in 2004); a museum needs rumours therefore Tate is active on Twitter and Facebook; Paolo Virno: everything is possible in our museum; dance is the new thing! (Tino Sehgal) Not making bigger art pieces. Again Art and live are connected here.

Sunday 7 April, Genève

What kind of anarchist am I?
If we tell someone that we are exploring Anarchism, most of the time they are speechless with surprise. As soon as they recovered, it is waved aside as something completely insane. ‘Anarchism = chaos, violence and terror,’ they say. This is the dark side of Anarchism maybe still linked to the assassination of Sissi. On 10 September 1898 Luigi Lucheri, a 25-year old anarchist stabbed her as she came out of the Hotel Beau-Rivage, walking along the lake of Geneva. Although this was more than hundred years ago this symbolic act is still firmly embedded in our collective memory. Florian Eitel, a historian and Ph.D student at the university of Fribourg explained to us that the anarchists needed a symbolic act as a wake-up call because the social revolution was not happening – so you could say this was an act out of frustration. And now that I think about it, I realise it is strange that no greedy banker responsable for the crisis is murdered yet. Wake-up, social and political awareness, and consciousness are words that constantly recur in texts. Interesting to mention here is that Luigi Bertoni, an Italian-born anarchist and typographer founded in 1900 the anarchist bilingual periodical called Il Risveglio/Le Réveil Geneva. Anyway this is to me a far more interesting side of Anarchism: awakening, social justice, freedom, equality and brotherhood. Incidently principles that socialism also defends.

I think I am like John Cage a self-styled non-violent anarchist, or like Colin Ward a gentle anarchist. In the eighties I was a squatter, but not a punk. More a politically engaged artist, against housing speculation, and at the same time egoistic and opportunistic, knowing we are the privileged ones who live more or less outside society.

Saturday 6 April, Genève

Imagine this is the art world. It is hard and shiny. There is place for just a few of us. The curly top is where everyone wants to be, this is for only 5%. This is the "hope" that fuels our ambition in the art industry. So what is your plan: try to get in? Or... make your own structure?

It is beginning to dawn on me what Art has to do with Anarchism, and what we can learn from it. A lot of artists, writers and thinkers are anarchist – how can you be not an anarchist, but maybe you don’t know it yet. The art world however has nothing to do with anarchism; this is pure capitalism and neo-liberalism: the winner takes it all. I still have the maybe naive belief the art world should be different; an aesthetic zone where other things are possible. And we, artists and curators, now called cultural producers, do we agree with this system and the pressure to perform? Is this creative? Is this helpful for our art?

In CIRA upstairs in the archive sits in the corner an A4-paper with the following text: ‘Your ignorance is their power.’ Emma Goldman also wrote about this: ‘Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyse every proposition.’ And that is I realised when reading this, exactly what we (Fucking Good Art) are doing. She also writes: ‘The most violent element in society is ignorance; that its power of destruction is the very thing Anarchism is combatting.’ So if we want to create a new cultural and social order we have to study Anarchism, investigate and share our knowledge.

In fact we already started some years ago, but didn’t know it then. In 2008 we made The Swiss Issue – a field study on art & market (FGA#20).[1] In this issue we attempted to understand the art system. These are the two things we learned: the system works only for 3-5 percent of the artists (that’s why we need an other system), and nobody is really willing to make a declaration about quality.[2] God knows why, this is left to the “invisible hand” of the free market, as we do in the “real” world. Well, what good did that bring us? Capitalism is bankrupt; there is a serious global financial crisis, and a growing inequality in society. And because we believe in this “invisible hand” of the free market power galleries like Gagosian Gallery can monopolise the art market and set the rules for the art world.[3] Too much power corrupts. I believe Bakunin said this, and with him many anarchist.

For me mister Gagosian, or Go-Go (this is his nickname because he is buying and selling art so fast) stands for decadence and blue-chip[4] artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Their, to me hideous, bling-bling- or James Bond art–that the nouveaux rich mistakenly take for art–sells and resells easily for millions. And this is what our Dutch government believes in! Well, I think this "art system" is the power of destruction the anarchists speak of; this is what we have to fight.

[1] The swiss Issue – a field study on art & market, page 5, editorial; Fucking Good Art #20, 2008

[2] Hype! Kunst und Markt, Piroschka Dossi.

[3] The Gagosian effect: This powerful art dealer uses his global network of galleries and blue-chip clients to fetch higher prices for his artists. Gagosian's Global Empire includes: 12 galleries worldwide, 77 artists, $1 billion in sales yearly. I read this week in a newspaper that Damien Hirst split from Gagosian. Gagosian Galleries in: New York (3), Beverly Hills (1), London (2), Paris (2), Rome (1), Athenes (1), Geneva (1), Hong Kong (1).

[4] According to the New York Stock Exchange, a blue chip is stock in a corporation with a national reputation for quality, reliability, and the ability to operate profitably in good times and bad. Also the name "blue chip" came about because in the game of poker the blue chips have the highest value.

Friday 5 April, Genève

 I am the anarchist archivist

I have been an internet scavenger for the past 2 weeks looking for free downloadable PDF’s of books on Anarchism and Art. It has become an obsession. This is a truely liberating feeling, and anti-capitalistic, anti-consumer experience. Now my new addiction is cooling down a bit. But when I am reading in one of my free pirated books or in one of the books we loaned from CIRA and encounter a new name or title, I immediately want to have it. I want to download it! I Google, I go to the website Anarchist library, libcom, finding boooks etc. to see if there is a free PDF available. Our FGA library on Anarchism is growing, and by now we have all the titles that are essential to understand Anarchism. I archive all the books in Bookpedia. I am the anarchist archivist. But do I have (time) to read them all? And what does that mean: understanding Anarchism? What exactly do I want to know about or learn from Anarchism? Artists are already free and independent. In fact you cannot be an artist without being an anarchist, I read in one of the books. I am free and independent since I went to art academy, and the art world is one big happy creative zone. Nobody tells us what to do, there is no general agreed-upon definition of art, since defining the boundaries of "art" is subjective. Right?

 ‘Archiving is the new folk art,’ said Kenneth Goldsmith, the man behind the anarchistic archive UbuWeb. ‘Since computers and Internet became part of our existence we are all archiving and arranging material.’ UbuWeb is radical distribution, it is free and open source, and all the wonderful content that is there is taken from the internet without consent of the makers/artists. There have been some people making claims; lawyers sending letters. That freaked him out at first, but then he understood these threats could not destroy his archive, and simply ignored them. But he also made sure that UbuWeb cannot be found on Google; there are no links to his website. He is of the radar, went underground. UbuWeb is not making money, and the resolution is not HD, it is low-res AVI. There is no money involved. This is radical distribution, so good for all who are included. And the disclaimer reads: The following films are presented for educational and non-commercial use only. All copyrights belong to the artists. Kenneth believes that the web is not forever, and because it is not forever you have to DOWNLOAD, PDF it if you can, grab the mp3 or the AVI and download it on your hard drive. ‘Buy as many external drives as you can,’ he says, ‘and start downloading.’

Monday 1 April, Genève

Friday 29 March, Genève

Discussion in the kitchen with Merel van Tilburg who is the art historian-in-residence. It is always a pleasant and surprising experience to have her as a sparring-partner; a very spirited speaker who is able to contextualize things. I tell her that I am sometimes lost and no longer understand what art is about. She says there is no reason to panic as long as you understand the situation we are in, and that nobody has an idea. 'Nobody knows' said our Georgian artist friend Kote Jincharadze if we asked him a sensitive question about art in Georgia.

We (meaning all cultural producers) are in a transitional stage, on our way to something new. What this will be we don’t know (yet). Art today is patchy, there is no longer one big narrative. What we get are clips and unedited particles, recycling parts of art history, like cultural jamming with elements from the canon.

A helpful metaphor would be knitting. We are collectively knitting a new pullover that we all can wear for some time, and while doing it we are designing it, shaping it, discussing what the final form will be. So we all know what our common goal is: taking part in the activity to create new ideas what art could be. This is a collective effort. And nobody can monopolize the work we did together. This is the age of sharing and open source.

We already picked up some rumours about the show at Kunsthalle Zurich. I think the young Swiss artist Tobias Madison understands quite well that the artworld is confused, and embraced the principle of collectivism, and doing things together for the sake of doing them. Do it just to do it so to speak. Which reminds me of one of the books of Hans Ulrich Obrist, and also brings me back to the idea why we started Fucking Good Art.

Tuesday 26 March, Genève

Yesterday we visited bookshop Fahrenheit 451 – librairie anarchiste et alternative, on Rue Voltaire 24. This summer the bookshop will be closed after 10 years. Pierre, the owner of the shop tells me there are no more anarchists in Geneva. The oldest (and maybe the last) anarchist in Geneva Georges Eperon died a few months ago on 6 November 2012 at the age of 90 years. He said, I mean old Georges: ‘L’anarchisme donne une sens à ma vie,’ and because his childhood was stolen from him he refused to be a slave and never had a 40 hour job: ‘Je refusais d’être un esclave du travail, je voulais profiter de la vie.‘ After the city of Geneva closed almost all the squats some years ago, the young anarchists – mostly "party" anarchists who also enjoy life – from the squatter scene left for Berlin or Spain. The squats became too big and powerfull. What is left of Europe once bigest squater scene are two big collective atelier buildings: Usine and Kugler housing in total maybe 200 artists.

The bookshop is non-profit. All the turnover flows back into the shop to buy new books and pay the rent. But sales have dropped; Pierre cannot pay himself anymore, and the rents are extremely high in Geneva. Pierre is from Quebec, Canada. He opened the doors of Fahrenheit 451 on 1 September 2003, in a small village called Yverdon-les-Bains, between Lausanne and Neuchatel. On 1 August in 2009 Pierre moved to Geneva and opened the shop on Rue Voltaire. This is a bookshop without the typical anarchist/squatters 1980s iconography: walls painted black, graffiti, black flags, stuffy books etc. No, this is a freshly painted shop, and the books are contemporary: Anarchism, sociology, art (small section, but nevertheless), philosophy, ecology etc. The only black in the shop are a few book covers and Pierre.

Pierre lives in the back of the shop and on 5 December around 4 o’clock a stone was thrown true the window of the shop. ‘A sign that Right is rising,’ says Pierre. And maybe this is also a reason for Pierre to stop and move out of Geneva. On his Blog he posts:

Pavé contre vitrine anarchiste
Posted on 5 décembre 2012
Ce matin mercredi 5.12.12 autour de 4h10, la librairie Fahrenheit 451 a reçu un pavé dans sa vitrine. Une personne n’a rien trouvé de mieux que d’agresser d’un symbolique lancer de pavé la vitrine de la libraire militante genevoise Fahrenheit 451. Pourtant, s’il s’était donné la peine d’entrer (sans frapper…), il se serait sûrement rendu compte que les pavés les plus intéressants étaient déjà à l’intérieur ! Sans doute n’était-il pas à la page…

On Friday 1 February around 5:30 Freedom Press London was attacked: ‘Blaze at historic anarchist bookshop is investigated by police. Suspicious fire at anarchist newspaper's base may have damaged archives’ (The Guardian). Twenty years ago in March 1993 the bookshop was attacked by the neo-fascist group Combat 18, and eventually firebombed. Freedom Press, Britain's oldest anarchist publishers was set up more than 100 years ago in 1886 by a group of friends, including Charlotte Wilson and Peter Kropotkin. The complete print archives of the press may have been damaged or destroyed. Most of the books you find on Anarchism are published by Freedom Press. On their website they advertise they are looking for a new editor.

In bed reading Chomsky on Anarchism by Noam Chomsky. I like to read Chomsky because he is not a preacher, like many anarchists are. He writes stuff that is nice to read: ‘No one owns the term "anarchism." It is used for a wide range of different currents of thought and action, varying widely. There is no “right” way, there is maybe “a” way to do it differently.’ This relates to our title for our new Fucking Good Art that we are now working on: (A) Way Out – manifest of an anarchist artist.

Monday 18 March, Aarau

Anarchistic sculpture (red Saab 900 + pile of stones) in the streets of Aarau. Photo: Wenzel Haller

This sculpture is made by our friend Wenzel Haller (self-styled non-violent anarchist artist) consisting of two parts: an old retired red Saab 900, stripped and filled with soil so a lush urban garden can grow from seeds that in one way or another drop there, and a pile of stones (Jura limestone) that came out of the thick walls to cut windows. Although the car and the stones are on his own ground - Wenzel owns the building - the town council sees this as an illegal act and must be removed. But Wenzel has no intention of removing the sculpture because the purpose of this sculpture is to test the rules of the system of local government. This work must be understood as an attack on the leading government. And as long as he moves the red Saab 900 and the pile of stones a few inches every 2-3 months he will stay within the rules. This process can continue ad infinitum, and Wenzel is planning to do so, and document it. Great disrupting public art!

Friday 15 March, Genève

A sketch for a poster or a page in our publication (A) Way Out - Notes of an Anarchist Artist.

Thursday 14 March, Lausanne

Appointment at CIRA with Marianne Enckell, la grande dame de l'anarchisme. Centre International de Recherches sur l'Anarchisme (CIRA) is the bigest archive and library on Anarchism in Switzerland. It was founded in Genève in 1957, and later moved to Lausanne. The current collection holds 18'000 books and pamphlets, 4'000 periodicals titles, audio and video recordings. We are planning to be there every Wednesday and Thursday until the end of our residency to study (or just look at) the abundant anarchist printed matter: pamphlets and newspapers from all over Europe. At the same time we want to film the site; the house and the garden (Florian Eitel told us that is is an amazing place); the boxes in the archive, and what is inside; the library; and the people working there.

Wednesday 13 March, Genève

Anarchism: What it Really Stands For and A New Declaration of Independence, by Emma Goldman.
Published and printed by In the Spirit of Emma, c/o Active Distribution, BM Active, London, WC1N 3XX, UK www.activedistribution.org
Reading booklet with text transcribed from the book Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman, published by Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1969. I bought this booklet with quite a few other books in January at Swarze Risse, a very good bookshop in Berlin specialised in Anarchism.
My problem with this text is that it reads as a 'self-help' book for finding yourself, or self-realisation. Anarchism is the philosophy of the sovereignty of the individual, so in a sense it is about finding your 'own' way how to live. But I'm not sure, at this point, I want to deal with Anarchism on an identity level. More about this in an other entry. The reason why we are researching Anarchism is because we hope to find ideas to safe art. Well... maybe I should to say: to find ways to continue with our art outside the mainstream. Or as we wrote in the editorial of The Italian Issue: 'The purpose of our journey was to find new proposals, more ecological and sustainable practices that allow us to continue to make art in a confused world ruled by money. Like Goethe, we hoped that our viaggio in Italia would lead to a "künstlerischen Wiedergeburt".'
Nevertheless this text is valuable to read, and gives some surprising insights. In fact is more a enumeration of Anarchist philosophy and ideas. Most people think or believe Anarchism stands for destruction and violence! 'This is because the ordinary man has no knowledge of what Anarchism really stands for,' Emma writes, 'ignorance is the most violent element in society; that its power of destruction is the very thing Anarchism is combating.' Here are 10 quotes for beginners like us:
1.Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyse every proposition.
2.Anarchism: The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.
3.Anarchism is the only philosophy which brings to man the consciousness of himself; which maintains that God, the State, and society are non-existent, that their promises are null and void.
4.Religion, the dominion of the human mind; Property, the dominion of human needs; and Government, the dominion of human conduct, represent the stronghold of man's enslavement and all the horrors it entails. Break your mental fetters, says Anarchism to man, for not until you think and judge for yourself will you get rid of the dominion of darkness, the greatest obstacle to all progress.
5.Anarchism directs its forces against the third and greatest foe of all social equality; namely, the State, organised authority, or statutory law; the dominion of human conduct.
6.'All government in essence,' says Emerson, 'is tyranny.'
7.Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth, and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations.
8.Anarchism stands for direct action, the open defiance of, and resistance to, all law and restrictions, economic, social, and moral. But defiance and resistance are illegal. Therein lies the salvation of man. Everything illegal necessitates integrity, self-reliance, and courage. In short, it calls for free, independent spirits, for man who are men, and who have a bone in their backs which you cannot pass your hands through. 
9.Will it not lead to revolution? Indeed, it will. No real social change has ever come about without a revolution. Revolution is but thought carried into action.
10.Anarchism is the philosophy of the sovereignty of the individual. It is the theory of social harmony. It is the great, surging, living truth that is reconstructing the world, and will usher in the Dawn.

Tuesday 12 March, Fribourg


Meeting with Florian Eitel at the university of Fribourg. He is a specialist on Anarchism in the 19th century, to be more exact the period between 1860 and 1872.

Thursday 7 March, St-Imier

Finally going to St-Imier, the birthplace of Anarchism in the Jura. This is the place where Le Congrès de l'Internationale Anti-autoritaire Saint Imier, on 15-16 September 1872 was held.

Sunday 3 March, Genève

Books + 1 DVD I brought with me to Genève for our research on anarchism:

Anarchism: What it Really Stands For and A New Declaration of Independence
By Emma Goldman
Booklet with text transcribed from the book Anarchism and Other Essays
Dover Publications, Inc. New York, 1969
Published and printed by In the Spirit of Emma
c/o Active Distribution
BM Active, London

Anarchism and Other Essays
Emma Goldman
Published by Serenity Publishers

Der Anarchismus
Philosophie u. Ideale
Peter Kropotkin
Texte zur Theorie und Praxis de Anarchismus und Syndikalismus
Band 13

Der Rebell Anarchik
Robert Halbach
Karim Kramer Verlag, Berlin, 2008

Insurrectionalist Anarchism Part One
Alfredo M.Bonanno
Elephant Editions
Original title: Anarchismo insurrezionalista
Edizioni Anarchismo, I libri di Anarchismo Nº 10, June 1999

The Anarchist Ethic in the Age of Anti-Globalization Movement
Killing King Abacus Nº 2/Summer 2001
Elephant Editions

The Floodgates of Anarchy
Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer
PM Press 2010

Was ist eigentlich Anarchie?
Einführung in Theorie und Geschichte des Anarchismus
Karin Kramer Verlag, Berlin, 2009

Under the Yoke of the State
Selected Anarchist Responses to Prisons and Crime
Vol.1, 1886-1929, Pamphlet

Naom Chomsky
A pinguin special, 2012
F.Domela Nieuwenhuis
De As 87, Anarchistisch tijdschrift
Zeventiende jaargang, nº 87, juli-september 1989   

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, 2012
Distributed by Argo Navis Author Service

Time for Outrage
Stéphane Hessel
Original title: Indignez-vous!
First published in 2011 by Charles Glass Books

The Path to Hope
Stéphane Hessel and Edgar Morin
Other Press New York, 2011

Vorgemischte Welt
Klaus Sander und Jan St. Werner
Edition Suhrkamp 2391, 2005

Revolution: A Reader
Selected and annotated by Lisa Robertson & Matthew Stadler
Paraguay Press & Publication Studio, 2012

Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
Henry David Thoreau
Dover Thrift Editions, New York, 1993
Text first published in 1849

The German Issue
Edited by Sylvère Lotringer
Semiotext(e) 2009
Co-published with Sternberg Press

Civil Society
Tussen oud en nieuw
Redactie Govert Buijs, Paul Dekker en Marc Hooghe
Uitgeverij Aksant, Amsterdam 2009

Kapitalistischer Realismus
Von der Kunstaktion zur Gesellschaftskritik
Sighard Neckel
Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/New York, 2010

Gewalt, Angst und Politik
Zeitbuch 02-11
Medienverein Respektive

The Weather Underground DVD
A documentary by Sam Green, Carrie Lozano and Bill Siegel
The Free History Project 2005

Saturday 2 March, Genève

Location: Rue du Grütli

Graffiti battle in the streets of Genève. A stencilled graffiti shows a black flag in the middle. On the left one half of a laurel aureole and on the right half of a cog wheel. The text above reads: PAS DE FACHOS DANS NOS QUARTIERS; and under: PAS DE QUARTIER POUR LES FACHOS. 
The commentator(s) who disagree sprayed out FACHOS and wrote with felt pen GAUCHO, and on both sides of the stencilled graffiti they commented with a black circle enclosing a black cross, the symbol of the plague.
FACHO: sympathizer of extreme right, GAUCHO: sympathizer of extreme left. 

Thursday 28 February, Genève

Stéphane Hessel died yesterday at the age of 95. 'Les Indignés (Occupy) de la planète ont perdu leur grand-père. L'une de grandes figures de la Rèsistance et de la promotion des droits humains.' (Tribune de Genève, Jeudi 28 février 2013).

Two years ago in 2010 he publiced the small pamphlet Indignez-vous! (Time for Outrage!), the best-selling call to arms. Hessel says that outrage inspires resistance. The motivation that underlay the Resistance in WOII was outrage. '(...). My life long has given me a steady succession of reasons for outrage.(...).' And he wants us to get angry.

This reminds me of the film Network (1976). The story opens with two anchors being fired with a two-week notice because of low ratings – here I see a direct link to to the budget cuts for culture and the closing of 5 of the 11 art institutes in the Netherlands. One anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) announces live the next night on television that he will commit suicide – can you imaginge Hans Ulrich Obrist saying this on the BBC to get more visitors to the Serpentine gallery, or Defne Ayas of Witte de With? The ratings of Howard Beale skyrocket. Howard Beale is mad as hell and tells his TV-audience to get mad. Everybody knows things are bad, there is a depression: 'I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' Great scene, all over the city you start to hear people screaming. Beautiful example of non-violent direct action.

In the same spirit Stéphane Hessel wants us to take over and keep the resistance going against the banks, the power of money, and the state who is misleading and selling all that once was 'public', meaning that what belongs to all of us. He wants us to revive and carry forward the tradition of the Resistance and its ideas. To explain what he finds important today he identifies two things of great concern:
1. The escalation of inequality in our society (the gap between poor and rich is getting bigger) – by the way a point we also made in 2008 in The Swiss Issue.
2. Human rights and ecology.
Stéphane Hessel was influenced by Jean-Paul Sartre who said: 'You as an individual are responsible.' This is a libertarian message he said. Hessel: 'People must commit themselves in terms of their personal, individual human responsibility. We must find an answer to the questions: Who runs things? Who decides?' And this is what we are doing at the moment with our research on art and anarchism. But no answers yet, first only many more questions.

Wednesday 13 February, Genève

Yesterday returned from a short trip to a mountain village. There was at least 50 cm of snow on the roofs. We had read (and heard) during Carnival the "winter" is captured and burned, and linked this to our research on anarchism, oral history and vernacular performance. Every year the ritual is performed.
There are two important protagonists: Poutratze (winter) and Les Peluches (wilder mann or man looking like stuffed plush animals). The ritual lasts for hours. Les Peluches play the biggest role because they chase away the evil spirits and winter. They are ferocious figures with a suit of animal skins and animal mask. On their backs is a stacking of maybe 10 animal skins; a thick layer of sheepskins, cow and goat skins, foxes, badgers, deer, chamois that looks like a hunchback. These appalling figures stink and walk growling through the streets, they make noise with large cowbells, and occasionally uttering a terrible cry. We are already in the streets for quite some time, our feet are cold and go to a restaurant. We ask the waitress if she knows what will happen. She says that carnival is finished. We feel depressed and eat our raclette, and drink our tea...
But then after dinner around 8pm suddenly the Poutratze (winter) appears in the street. He is big! He wears a suit made of old grain backs stuffed with straw, and wears a mask of a snowman with a carrot nose (imagine A Clockwork Orange). I heard it is approximately 30 kilos of straw and that the same character appears on 15 August. In fact he is a mix between a snowman and a strawman. He visits all the bars for a chat and a drink. In the meanwhile Les Peluches run around in the streets scaring children and assaulting girls. A man asks if they brushed our face and hair, because if they do you will have good luck. So 2013 will be a good year!
When I ask some children if they had seen le monstre grosse they said: 'non, il n'est pas un monstre, c'est un bonhomme.' At around 11 pm Poutratze is arrested in the bar of our hotel by La Police - 4 figures with devils masks, grey long jackets and shotguns - and taken into the streets and chained. The next day (Le Mardi gras) he will be burned, but we will not see this because we go back to Genève. A great vernacular performance, but is there a link to anarchism? I have to think about this.

Sunday 10 February, Genève

Monsieur V.
On Saturday late afternoon in Café du Marché in Carouge we get to talk with an older gentleman, Monsieur V. He reads his newspaper. When he finished his coffee, he asks for the bill. Before him on the table a little blue notebook. On top of the notebook a transparent ruler of the same length. He writes down the price of the coffee. We are very curious and Nienke asks him if that helps, writing down what you spend. Monsieur V. explains the reason for keeping track of his expenses is that he wants to prove the government that he pays too much tax. He is a civil servant with a burnout, he is involuntary single and celibate, and his psych says he would actually have to go to a sanatorium to recover from his illness.
He does not agree with the system in Switzerland and finds that it does not work. 'The Swiss are too obedient', he says. 'Aucune résistance?', I ask, 'Democratie directe?'  We ask him if he is an anarchist. 'Quoi, anarchiste?', ‘I will explain you about different ideas of anarchism’, he says. ‘You have leftist anarchists, who want to destroy everything, and you have right anarchists, who are for the enforcement of the order by the police and the army. ’ Monsieur V. is a right anarchist.

Thursday 7 February, Genève

Why our flag is black?
Black flag is the negation of all flags.
Black is the negation of nationalities that drive the people to devour each other.
Black is the symbol of the unity of mankind.
Black is the anti-color.
Black is the symbol of anarchism, and represents the battle against (self)exploitation and above all the beginning of a new society based on mutual aid and self-organization.
Black recalls the famous and most beautiful example of Suprematist works: the Black Square by Malevich (1915).
Black references black flag pieces by Jasper Johns, Robert Longo, Marcel Broodhaers, Costa Vece, Claire Fontaine and Willem Oorebeek.
Black reminiscent of the curators and artists in black, who wonder around in the increasingly neo liberal globalized art world like the über Wandermönch HUO.

Sunday 3 February, Genève

Arrived at the Embassy of Foreign Artists around 9 p.m. after a ten hour drive. Unpacked the car, set up our 2 desks, had tea and sandwich. This is the 3rd time we have a residency in Switzerland. Last time in 2008 we were at Binz39 and made The Swiss Issue (FGA#20) for the exhibition Shifting Identities (Swiss) Art Today at Kunstmuseum Zurich. Now for the first time in the French region.

G.R. de Beer F.R.S. Escape to Switzerland, Penguin, 1945. First edition Penguin travel and adventure title in the main series numbered 490, 159 pages containing a history of Swiss alpine tourism, mountaineering and the lure of the highest, and not, as its title might suggest, wartime breakouts.

Friday 1 February, Rotterdam

Reading the guardian online.
Headline: London anarchist bookshop hit by suspicious fire.

LONDON (AP) — One of Britain's oldest anarchist publishers says its east London bookshop has been firebombed. Freedom Press — set up more than 100 years ago — said Friday that no one was injured in the overnight fire, but that its shop and electrics "have been seriously damaged." The publisher said on its Twitter page that it doesn't know who is responsible for the blaze. London's Metropolitan Police said it was called by the fire brigade around 5:30 a.m. to reports of a fire in progress at the bookshop on Whitechapel Road. Police say the incident is being treated as suspicious and that inquiries into the blaze's circumstances are under way.

Nienke's Side

Tuesday 23, Fribourg and St Imier

Professor Giordano, professor social anthropology in Fribourg, explained to us the difference between status and power. In that light could one say it makes sense that when the state is loosing legitimisation, or prestige, it is likely it will compensate by using power? Is this what we see happening in the Netherlands for instance? More control, budget cuts on education, care and culture, and then the proposal (by the same guy that did the cuts a year ago when he was state secretary of culture) to reserve more money for the military? Like in the airports now, where authorities treat travelers as all being possible criminals.

In ‘two cheers for anarchism’ anthropologist James C. Scott argues, much like David Graeber, that major social change rarely happened from head on confrontations, but rather from evasion, civil dissobediance, footdragging and desertion. If more and more people dissagree, they will slowly start to turn to sabotage, being non-cooperative, take what they think is their right to have, desert and so on. He sees this as the main trigger and start of social change, and a force which more or less forces states to do the right thing now and then. I like the book, it’s personal, anecdotal and well-written, but I read a (also quite interesting) critique in which he’s accused of being some kind kind of neo-lib in anarchist disguise. (Malcolm Harris in Los Angeles Review of Books; http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?type=&id=1154&fulltext=1&media=#article-text-cutpoint)

Monday 22 April, Genève

We would have been in the plain back from Brussels now, instead Rob just made bread, and we spend the weekend working; planning the last two weeks here in Geneva, writing and reading. We still have only 2 weeks. It would take 2 weeks only to look at all the video material from the last two month. Again we didn’t manage to go back home with everything processed. It is not realistic. I guess what we did here will be in the end part of a larger project, to be continued in the Netherlands, for a start, with a dive into the biggest archive on anarchism, in the institute for social history in Amsterdam. 
Wikipedia date-search for 'April 22':
1864 April 22 – The U.S. Congress passes the Coinage Act of 1864 that mandates that the inscription ‘In God We Trust’ be placed on all coins minted as United States currency.
1889 April 22 – At high noon, thousands rush to claim land in the Land Run of 1889. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed with populations of at least 10,000.
This way of selling land reminds me of a man called Dennis Hope, who in 1980 started to sell land plots on the moon:
“Since 1980, Hope has raked in over $9 million selling acres of lunar real estate for $19.99 a pop. So far, 4.25 million people have purchased a piece of the moon, including celebrities like Barbara Walters, George Lucas, Ronald Reagan, and even the first President Bush. Hope says he exploited a loophole in the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits nations from owning the moon.” (http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jul/location-location-location#.Ud_B5ByRP-E)

Sunday 21 April, Genève

A blog is like a pile of things, the most recent is on top. It starts at the end, in a way. Just the other way around from a book or a film, where you start at the beginning and continue from there. I wish a new reader of this blog would start at the bottom, day 1, but that’s not up to me. In real life you also start with ‘now’. If you meet someone new for instance, or if you deal with an idea. We are, I have the feeling, following some tracks, backward, as if the present is some mark you can observe, and you need to track back the histories that caused the present to be as it is. But I should talk for myself, here.  Some people don’t care a bit for the history and background of the thing in front of them. They start with the now, and take it right into the future.

What to do; read the anarchism classics from the 1870s when it was a huge new movement (which leads to reading general historcal overviews on that period to be able to understand the context), read overviews on anarchism, specialise and stick to reading on anarchism and art? Go out in the streets now we’re still in Switzerland, visit anarchist experiments, or try find anarchist and self-organisation cooperative spirit in art initiatives and ecological experiments? Then there is the Swiss confederational history to look in to; can one find that back in today’s structures? Or focus on ‘the other side’, the extreme centralised global institutions that have their seats in Geneva, like the UN, about which David Graeber states:

‘(…)a great, emerging global bureaucracy-the first genuinely global administrative system in human history, enshrined not only in the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, but also the endless host of economic unions and trade organizations and non-governmental organizations that work in tandem with them—created largely under U.S. patronage.’(Dept, p. 368)

Theory or practice? History or anthropology? Concepts or Anecdotes?

Today I started reading Allen Antliff’s Anarchy and Art, from the Paris Commune to the Fall of the Berlin Wall. He writes on the Proudhon-Zola debate, who were— although both in admiration—fighting about the work of the anarchist painter Gustave Courbet.

On page 27 he quotes from Proudhon’s public defense of Courbet Du principe de l’art: “The task of art, I say, is to warn us, to praise us, to teach us, to make us blush by confronting us with a mirror of our own conscience.”

Zola answered in a lengthy book review that Proudhon’s defense resulted in an ‘empoverished definition of art’. (p.29) ‘For Zola on the other hand, the locus of freedom was the autonomous individual, independent of all rules and all social obligations.’

‘Zola defined a work of art as "a fragment of creation seen through a temperament" (Zola's emphasis) For him, the "fragment" was secondary to "temperament" and the index of temperament was style. Equating the exercise of temperament with freedom, Zola turned stylistic originality into an anarchist act. Here, the politics of art imploded into the art object as the artist strove to assert personal freedom through stylistic innovation. The contrast with Proudhon's artist, who could not approach a condition of freedom except through social critique, seemed unequivocal.’

Three pages later (p. 34, we are now in the middle of the Paris Commune and reading about Courbet’s close involvement in it): The Federation of Artists had been formed on April 13 at Courbet's instigation. Its first act was to issue a manifesto declaring complete freedom of expression, an end to government interference in the arts, and equality amongst the membership. Complete freedom of expression: for Courbet, there was no conflict between Zola's advocacy of freedom through style and Proudhon's advocacy of freedom through critique—an anarchist future could accommodate both. 

Friday 19 April, Genève

A terrible thing: after 3 hours on the airport, between hermes shawls and yves saint laurent stuff, and after reading 'No place like Home’ by Andrea Fraser, we decided to not go to the art fair in Brussels. 

Tuesday 16 April, St Imier

Early drive to St Imier. They are having their Monday-seances in L’Espace Noir, which sounds exotic for non-french, but it’s just the weekly meeting. Twenty people together organise the programm for the bookshop, the cinema, concerts, meetings, exhibitions. They kindly offer us  a room for the night. On the door a photocopied drawing of the bard from Asterix, and: ‘sleeping artists’. In the room we can choose from 10 matrasses. We have a pizza, walk around in St Imier, check the info plates that are all around town telling short histories of the watch makers industry, the Anti-authoritarian International Workingmen's Association or Anti-authoritarian International, the arrival of Kropotkin in town. The same line I copy-pasted from his autobiography is on a turist-information text:
The very organization of the watch trade, which permits men to know one another thoroughly and to work in their own houses, where they are free to talk, explains why the level of intellectual development in this population is higher than that of workers who spend all their life from early childhood in the factories. There is more independence and more originality among the petty trades’ workers. But the absence of a division between the leaders and the masses in the Jura Federation was also the reason why there was not a question upon which every member of the federation would not strive to form his own independent opinion. Here I saw that the workers were not a mass that was being led and made subservient to the political ends of a few men; their leaders were simply their more active comrades, — initiators rather than leaders. The clearness of insight, the soundness of judgment, the capacity for disentangling complex social questions, which I noticed amongst these workers, especially the middle-aged ones, deeply impressed me; and I am firmly persuaded that if the Jura Federation has played a prominent part in the development of socialism, it is not only on account of the importance of the no-government and federalist ideas of which it was the champion, but also on account of the expression which was given to these ideas by the good sense of the Jura watchmakers. Without their aid, these conceptions might have remained mere attractions for a long time. The theoretical aspects of anarchism, as they were then beginning to be expressed in the Jura Federation, especially by Bakúnin; the criticisms of state socialism — the fear of an economic despotism, far more dangerous than the merely political despotism — which I heard formulated there; and the revolutionary character of the agitation, appealed strongly to my mind. But the egalitarian relations which I found in the Jura Mountains, the independence of thought and expression which I saw developing in the workers, and their unlimited devotion to the cause appealed far more strongly to my feelings; and when I came away from the mountains, after a week’s stay with the watchmakers, my views upon socialism were settled. I was an anarchist.”

Spend the night in our ‘sleeping artists’-room, preparing for the talk with Michel Nemitz tomorrow morning. 

Sunday 7 April, train Rotterdam—Genève

In a train following more or less the same route as the non-authoritarian socialists who left the meeting in the Hague and traveled to Switzerland for the meeting in St Imier, 141 years later, I’m on my way to Geneva. Next to me a young and smartly dressed Russian woman, reading this book:

It is written by Lev Luria, historian, and it is, she tells, with about strong women around the Tsar and the monarchy at the end of the 19th century. ‘Female preditors’, she calls them, and they were complicit in the assasination of the Tsar. Things didn’t turn for the better she says; she prefers evolution over revolution. I get the impression everywhere I look people are rethinking the late 19th century. 

Tuesday 2 April, Rotterdam

For anyone who thinks the bureaucracy in the Netherlands is disturbing, this mail I got from an American university:

Dear --
I do know that Purchasing has approved the Non-conforming order and it was turned over to Payables for payment. I also sent in a Special Payment form so that the check can come to me and then I can send it by Fed Ex over to Nienke. I will let you know when I receive the check.
Thanks, --

Sunday 31 March, Arnhem

At 9 in the morning I discover there is no tram before ten at Sunday. I walk/run to the station, but just when I realise I’ll never make it I see some taxis and a police car. The situation is tense and strange. The driver says I cannot get in, but a few meters further he stops again and asks where I need to go. There are two totally spaced out drunk people in the car. That’s why. The morning shift meets the night shift. I get a free ride to the station.

Later that day, with my family, we talk about some initiatives going on in the Netherlands that sound a lot like anarchist ways of doing things. People start organising stuff for themselves and for each other. There is the Broodfonds, a collective insurance for and by free lancers; people who take over libraries in villages and neighbourhoods that are shut down because of government budget cuts. Energy companies start to obstruct green power decentralisation initiatives by charging more for using the net, less for the energy itself. Is that a sign this kind of ‘engaged retreat’ from the big companies is becoming a serious factor? 

Saturday 30 March, Rotterdam

I really have to make better notes. Was it Propotkin who said ‘there’s no king of the jungle’? And where did I read this nice summery of concepts which in science were thought of as operating by ‘central controle’ for a long while and now conceived of as networks, decentralised systems? There were interesting items in the list, like the body centraly controled by the head, and even the solar system turning around the sun is an image that’s been challenged now. The smallest particles turn out to be of infinite importance because they’re infinite in number. Chaos theory is interesting as well, for sure. Gaia hypothesis, daisy world. The imagery choice in science is not so objective either.

Back in the Netherlands for a few days, I bought the newspaper: de Volkskrant. No text on the frontpage, only images. Lots of fashion and lifestyle, and the news-news which you also get online. In Dresden the lady of a local newspaper we tried to convince publishing a page of FGA once said to us: ‘you have to understand: the editorial content is an envelope for the advertisements.’
I scanned for centralisation-decentralisation news, enjoyed reading a new ‘news photo with comment’ by Hans Aarsman about the effect of the layout of the chairs in the house of parliament on the way of discussing, and was touched by the column of Remco Campert, a voice I know since I can read the newspaper. They were the only two things in this edition I might miss when I would quit reading paper-newspapers. 

Friday 29 March, Haut-Savoie

Looking for John Berger, photo Nienke Terpsma.

This is 20 minutes outside Geneva, 900 metres high. We tried to find the village where John Berger lives. Just to see if it’s really an isolated mountain village, or maybe it turned into an expensive expat suburb kind of place over the years. If we were on the right track, an unpaved little road that is closed untill the snow melts leads to the hamlet. We walked under dripping pine trees on melting snowdunes uptill a meter high. A wonderfull accoustics: a forest in the snow. After sinking into the snow knee-deep a few times, we decided one needs different gear to walk the 2 km and the night started to fall, so we went back. It seems pretty remote, and specially for a place so close to the city.

Someone told us the countryside just around Geneva is way more expensive then the city. On one hand there are rural areas inhabited by rich city dwellers now, gentrified villa parcs (like in the last chapter of Houllebec’s The Map and the Territory), and on the other hand (and that other hand is not in Switzerland) there are huge deserted rural areas from which people continue to move away and to the cities, just because they can’t survive there any longer. I have to check this out for the Countryside Issues. Perhaps first wait for OMA’s research on the countryside. I heard about this big project, in which also the Swiss village where Rem Koolhaas has a holiday house is being analysed, but cannot find too much online. In Architectsjournal.co.uk he’s quoted to say: ‘‘Millions have moved to cities from the countryside. They have left behind a weird territory for genetic experimentation, intermittent immigration [and] vast property transactions. It’s truly amazing when you look closely.’’ Well, yes. Sounds dangerous. What are his plans?

Wednesday 27 March, Lausanne

I’m sitting in the Centre International de Recherches sur l’Anarchisme, CIRA, between the many books. Where to start? Upstairs there are the documents, newspapers, flyers, manifesto’s, zines, posters and booklets. Downstairs the books, of which three meters are in English. The archiving system is simple. For example, the first book I took out—Anarchism and environmental survival, by Graham Purchase—is coded BA388. B is for the height of the book—so no shelf space is wasted—A is for the language Anglais, 388 is about the order of acquisition. So on the top shelf at the far left is the first book of the collection, then it goes on chronological for each language, for each size. The first books in the English department that catch my eye are the ones I heard of, writers I heard of in relation to anarchism, or contrary, of whom I didn’t know they are related to anarchism, and books with subjects in the title that trigger my imagination in combination with anarchism.
Colin Ward—Talking Houses, The child in the city, Voices of Creative dissent, New town, Home town; a biography about Richard Reid; many titles by Naom Chomsky—Radical Priorities, Language and Politics, The culture of Terrorism; William Godwin (Mary Kelly ‘Frankenstein’s father), Bertrand Russel, Eric From, John Berger. I'm a member now, so I chose some to bring to the Embassy. Demanding the Impossible, a history of Anarchism, by Peter Marshall, and some books related to art and anarchism.
After an hour or two I go upstairs where someone is busy digitalising the posters, using big photo lamps that make the room look like a film set. I start looking at newspapers from the start of the 20th century. I find something wonderfull; on the cover of one paper there’s a typography experiment that is based on an image of a pamphlet that was reproduced on the last page of the issue before. A text in red with big arrows, overprinted over the ordinary text page. The way the layers mix looks kind of random, brutal. It wasn’t so easy in those days to print big diagonals I think. They must have had fun doing this. Were there many type setters in anarchism, or did the editors and writers learn to type set and print?

Tuesday 26 March, Geneva, UN

We went to the United Nations (UN) building for the 4pm tourist tour, were present  at the gate mentioned on the website at 3.50pm (see photo), and found a note saying we should go to another gate, where we arrived at 4pm sharp. Too late. Well, ok, next time. 

Monday 25 March, Geneva

Started to transcribe last week’s recorded talks. It is a lot of work, but I like it, listening back a conversation and hearing so much more than the first time. The moment you walk out the door, you’ve rephrased things, adjusted what you heard to your own way of thinking, filtered and edited without intending to. Transcribing a tape, word by word, makes you realise that often what you remember consists for a great part of things that you already knew, or at least the things you can easily place within what you already know or believe. It is just difficult to hear something that forces you to rethink part of the ground you stand on.
On the other hand; sometimes I remember something exactly because it is such a mystery to me, because it irritates and contradicts what I think I know. Sometimes such an itch starts attracting other remarks or observations that don’t seem to fit, somehow. After a while there’s a pile of these misfits, growing, tilting and then sliding, till you have to start investigating a whole wide net of believes and prejudices that seemed the simplest truths just before. Where did they come from, what are they connected to, how would one see the world without them? 

Sunday 24 March, Geneva

Maison Baron had it’s first Barbaron today, with drinks and snacks and a talk by Merel, Rob and me. We were going to talk about academic and non-academic research, based on the many talks we had here in Maison Baron over the last weeks, but once we got going things took their own cours, as usual. Difficult. We started off with the exposé of the wonderfull documentary “De werkelijkheid van Karel Appel” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=-24YvCbSoAE), ‘staging the artist’ as a Malschwein, a barbarian in barbarian times, as Karel Appel himself states, while turning to the camera with a tube of paint in one hand and a knife in the other. A classic. Then some video fragments from Italian conversations—Art in the Age of Berlusconi. About 35 people attended on this cold wet sunday, and allthough we didn’t talk much about the new research on anarchism, that was was people mostly chose to react on afterwards, bringing more interesting new links and stories. 

Saturday 23 March, Geneva

(Rember to check out William Goldwin)

Friday 22 March, Geneva

Reminded once again: the ordinary daily & social & financial reality in which we work has a big effect on what is been made, and how (and if) it can be shared. We visited Richard Le Quellec in his studio, which he shares with Severin. It is one of many large studio’s in a subterranean passage under a modernist building with apartements and small shops. They share the passage with some car repair workshops. It smells nice.
Richard and Severin tell us briefly about the 150 squats Geneva had, the social life and the action around it, and how most of them were evicted in a very short time, leaving the city empty and the art scene scattered. There’s not so much a lack of studio’s, but of the mix of activities that created the dynamics in the big squats like Artamis. They made a nice video featuring a map of the city with little models of the buildings on it, a colour code for the different functions. We hear the same story over and over, but with different details and different emphasis. Geneva was an exciting city for contemporary art, but since all the squats were closed it is kind of finished. 
Next time more about how the Rassemblement des Artistes et Acteurs Culturels managed to change the status of art in the law of the state of Geneva.

Les Anarchistes, scenes et portraits presentés et commentés par Alain Sergent. A book from Richard's parents' bookshelves. Caption of this image—showing a wide range of anarchist newspapers of the time: La Presse Libertaire. Other images in the book depict grim looking anarchists plotting revolution in messy rooms.

Thursday 21 March, Geneva

Spring started today. The gardener came and found all seeds in the shed eaten by mice. He's a nice guy from Texas, who came along one day and asked Madeleine and Richard if he could do the garden and grow some vegetables (I understood, but got to ask again). He told in the US the number of farmers is increasing for the first time since long, and most of them are kind of amateurs; well educated city-mice who often try to bring back some life into deserted village centres.

My head was too full. Too much input. Lets' recap; how do we find back the feeling of 'studio-time', studio-hours. A Way Out. Countryside Issues. Standing on the river bank, look at the water. Refuge. Out of what? Out of the mind-loops and preconceived images that structure our thoughts. Why? Anarchism, decentralisation. Hundred years of centralisation. We looked at self-organisation in art for years, and only realised recently, that that is anarchist practice.
Richard pointed at an advertisement at the side of the road: "Tired? Do a Turbo-siesta". I don't want to have a turbo-siesta. Some things don't improve by making them more effective.

In the annex of Maison Baron all rooms are occupied this week: two African musicians/actors who play in a piece called 'Chaque homme est une race', the light and sound technician of the dance performance 'Encore', and a couple in a silver hummer with a Harley Davidson sticker on the back. 
Meeting with Merel over dinner, preparing for our Barbaron-presentation, which will be something like a mutual interview between us three about simularities and difference in our approaches?

Finished Dept, the first 500 years, by David Graeber.  It was a real, great adventure reading this book. The end wasn't really a surprise obviously, but still faster then anticipated, because of the 140 pages of notes at the end. It's a history of Dept from an anthropologists' perspective, which means, in Graebers own words: 'When one carries out an ethnography, one observes what people do, and then tries to tease out the hidden symbolic, moral, or pragmatic logics that underlie their actions; one tries to get at the way people's habits and actions makes sense in ways that they are not themselves completely aware of. One obvious role for a radical intellectual is to do precisely that: to look at those who are creating viable alternatives, try to figure out what might be the larger implications of what they are (already) doing, and then offer those ideas back, not as prescriptions, but as contributions, possibilities –– as gifts'. (from: Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

Wednesday 20 March, Zurich –> Geneva

Visited Georg at edition fink, as always a pleasure. Talking about books, about the changing logic of publishing and distribution. I think he is always looking for new interesting problems and possibilities within the ever changing rules of the game, mixing and combining the use of internet and printed matter, for instance. (The archive, website and publication fink is making with artist H.R. Fricker is inspiring: www.erobertdiewohnzimmer.net)
I also see a paralel with Wenzel and Soren; all interested in the underlying rules under the surface, acknowledging them, investigating them and making them visible through some kind of meaningfull play.
Drove back to Geneve, went straight to Mamco, where Charles Esche lectured a full two hours for a full house.

Tuesday March, 19, Zürich

Breakfast with our friend Sören, at his house, nearby where we stay. He is  immobilised by a knee injury. Like Rob he started to bake sourdough bread, but more ambitious as a baker, he is now supplying a restaurant once a week. Sören is a good one for curiously approaching personal misfortune as potentially interesting material for new work. Now he’s turning a courtcase against the Zurich police into a performance series.
Visited the Löwenbrau, which we didn’t see since it re-opened. They have an oxygen problem inside; the spaces are too hermetic. And what happened to the once so exciting bookshop Kunstgriff? In the evening a video lecture in Shedhalle. Kontinuitäten rechter Ästhetik: Syberbergs Wagner/Hitler-Komplex. Eight visitors in the house. Was the opera audience not invited?

Saturday March 16, Geneva

In Geneva there are many kiosks, and they all sell—next to the national Swiss newspapers in three languages and the local newspapers  of different cities (Tribune de Genève, NZZ-Neu Züricher Zeitung, Basler Zeitung etc)— French newspapers, German, some Italian, a Spanish, the International Herald Tribune, Financial Times Weekly and so on. Even the French satirical paper Le Canard Enchainé is for sale at a kiosk in ‘our’ neighbourhood, which is a normal 'kitz' with some residential buildings, some banks, art galleries, and some small industry and shops, neither really central, nor very rich.

The kiosk close to our house in Rotterdam used to have the Gazetta dello Sport, Times, Guardian, Turkish, Belgian and a Chinese newspaper. I realise over the last 2 years many Tabac shops closed down there, their services taken over by supermarkets, and they only sell Dutch newspapers, which more and more look alike in respect of their content and position—and by the way, are mostly owned by one owner and residing in one city, now that NRC Handelsblad moved it’s editorial offices from the periphery of Rotterdam to the centre of Amsterdam. A choice of international newspapers one can only find at one bookshop and at the central station now, I think. 

With the internet we're not exactly deprived of choice and news obviously, and we can watch Al Jazeera English now, which is great, but the kiosks' display of the ‘real newspapers’ with today’s news, all of them together, not only your favourite one, the visual and physical directness of all these parallel front pages, headlines, languages, juxtaposed, that's another experience. Analogue newspapers mirror that experience within them as well, because, as a practical implication of a broadsheet layout, many stories come together on a page. I love what that triggers in your brain, there's always some kind of context, random or not, noticed consciously or not—always something to think about.

Now that I start comparing; also the radio broadcasts here are much more divers. There is experimental music on the radio here! And World music! And classical music with a range that I didn't hear for years in the Netherlands. Our introduction of this blog, the escape, the asylum, it is irony—sure—we're luxury escapists, but I realise now that I feel truly liberated from the Dutch media terror.  It's great to be away from it for a while. It’s not necessarily better here, but it is more divers and more internationally oriented.

Don't ask a fish to describe the water he is swimming in. I remember what the artist Alberto Garutti said in the conversation we had with him in Milan in his studio for our research on Italian contemporary art: "I think artists should have an oblique gaze, betraying the centrality of the system". It's a mysterious sentence to me, something may have been lost in transcription/translation, and I don't think I really understand, but somehow this sentence seems right to me, and it keeps popping up in my mind, opening some doors rather than closing one. 

On my way home, with the International Herald tribune under my arm (4 CHF) I see a group of about twenty people waiting in front of a church. I ask one of them what's happening. "Manger gratuit Madame; free food. There are no jobs for us." Back home reading the paper, I realise all advertisements are for extremely expensive jewels, handbags, travels and specially lots of watches. 

ps (23 March) a new paper is starting up in the Netherlands, called The Correspondent. No ads, only online.

Wednesday March 13, Geneva

Why can't they find a Pope that hasn’t been somehow involved in a facsist dictature?

Tuesday March 12, Fribourg

Today we talked with Florian Eitel at the University of Fribourg. He studies the history of late 19th century Anarchism in Switzerland, and Federalism as a transnational history. The street where the university resides has the same name as the Hotel where Empress Sissi died after an attack by Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni, one of the events that gave anarchism such a bad name.
Florian tells about 'his time', 1860—1880), which he sees as the beginning of globalisation. The anarchists used all the new technical possibities of their time—trains, mail, rotation press, steno—to connect all over europe, and to distribute their ideas. A real progressive, inventive network culture. Many stories, a two-and a half hour recording we’ll transcribe, and a reading list. More later. We agree to meet again in Geneva in April, where Florian is doing research in the University library. 

Sunday March 10, Geneva
First correction of the book I'm doing the layout of. Meanwhile I've got at least 5 Wikipedia pages open. Wikipedia seems close to an anarchist university; at least it is "a collaborative effort of concentrating on a specific topic, trying to find out what we can know for sure, what we can speculate on, what we can agree on to be common knowledge." It still amazes me, the miracle machine that answers almost every question instantly, and links to infinite sources. When was time centralised? (1847 in Great Britain, 1909 in the Netherlands, when the whole country re-set their local time to the local time of the Westertoren in Amsterdam) What is mutualism? (Mutualism [in biology] is the way two organisms of different species exist in a relationship in which each individual benefits. Similar interactions within a species are known as co-operation. Mutualism can be contrasted with interspecific competition, in which each species experiences reduced fitness, and exploitation, or parasitism, in which one species benefits at the expense of the other. Mutualism is a type of symbiosis. Symbiosis is a broad category, defined to include relationships that are mutualistic, parasitic, or commensal.) Who was the anarchist who wrote about the evolutionary background of cooperation to which primatologist Frans de Waal refers? (Kropotkin: In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense – not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay. — Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion.) Who was the surprising Nobel prize for Economy winner of 2012, the woman who studied succesfull examples of people taking care of commons? (Elinor Ostrom) Was Buñuel an anarchist? (Yes
Suddenly I see one of these Wikipedia warnings: ‘This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2011)’  ‘This section is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. (June 2011)
A site-specific grafitti:
Saturday March 9, Genèva

Today we attended the disertation defence of our flat mate in the University of Geneva. Very exciting few hours theatre; specialist's questions, additions and remarks, displays of erudition, leading to a glorious 'Mention: très honorable avec félicitations du jury'.
I know most anarchists would probably be against this institute, the university, with it's hierarchies, specialisations and devisions, but this afternoon seemed to me like an interesting, highly formalised game to organise feedback by peers. It would be nice in the arts to have rituals for such a collaborative effort of concentrating on a specific topic, trying to find out what we can know for sure, what we can speculate on, what we can agree on to be common knowledge, and what can be interesting future subjects of study.
So a student finishes a big research, and then is free to propose a comittee of different specialists, from either the same or neighbouring disciplines, and from anywhere in the world. These people, if they are interested and accept the invitation, will thoroughly read the findings and the proposal, and on the day of the defence they will each have about half an hour in which they formulate their reaction to the thesis in general, how they think the thesis adds to the field in general, to their specialisation in particular, ask question and suggest improvements.
They are of course on stage, speaking in front of an interested lay audience as well as for highly estimated colleagues, another game format that adds extra challenge I'm sure. So the centre of all this attention, the writer of the thesis, and the casting director at the same time, is sitting in the front row of the lecture hall, all alone, litterally between the seats for the students and the place designated to the lecturer. But she's not all alone; the audience is all behind her, in support, so to say, when she replies to the experts. The experts not only face the student, they face all of us, and we all look at the slightest signs on their faces when they talk, as well as when they just listen. The candidate meanwhile is protected from our gaze.

Friday March 8, Genève

An e-mail saying the book I ordered at the English bookshop still didn't arrive and won't before next Thursday.
Wednesday March 6, 2013, Geneva
We talk on the phone with Gisele, one of the people behind l'Espace Noir, the anarchist cultural centre in St. Imier's we will visit tomorrow. St-Imier is a little town in the Jura that hosted the 2012 International Anarchist gathering last summer. It was the 140 year celebration of the 1872 Anarchist International of St Imier, just after the split between the Marxists and the Anarchists:
This followed the 'expulsions' of Mikhail Bakunin and James Guillaume from the First International at the Hague Congress (1872). It attracted the great majority of affiliates of the First International, repudiated the Hague resolutions, and adopted a Bakunist programme, and lasted until 1877 – a year longer than the smaller Marxist wing headquartered in New York.
The St. Imier International was created when the Swiss Jura Federation, the most important anarchist section of the old International, sent a proposal to the other sections, several of which then assembled at St. Imier to create a new anti-authoritarian organization. The organization was made up of various national federations of workers' societies, mainly the Italian, Spanish, Belgian, American, French and French-speaking Swiss federations, together with other individual organizations which all opposed Karl Marx's control of the General Council and favoured the autonomy of national sections from centralized control.
At the St. Imier Congress, held on 15–16 September 1872, the delegates proclaimed '[t]hat the aspirations of the proletariat can have no other aim than the creation of an absolutely free economic organisation and federation based upon work and equality and wholly independent of any political government, and that such an organisation or federation can only come into being through the spontaneous action of the proletariat itself, through its trade societies, and through self-governing communes.'" (Wikipedia)

Tuesday March 5, Genève

This weekend there was a referendum in Switserland: an initiative on executive pay, banning golden hellos for new employees and golden parachutes for departing staff. It also would introduce binding shareholder votes on salary levels. There was another one too, about spatial planning limiting the selling of land for development purposes. A Dutch friend spend a lot of time explaining the Dutch democratic system to Swiss friends, because the Swiss friends couldn't believe our voting rights are limited to the general elections once every four year. (they took place much more often lately, by the way)  They kept asking questions because how could the Netherlands be a democracy that way?
In today's newsletter of Dutch newspaper NRC I read that the owner of a big Dutch hospital, a real estate entrepreneur, died some time ago, and his heirs now want a 26 million loan back from the hospital, directly endangering the existence of the hospital. What? I had no idea. I would think a hospital is something that is just there, something public. Very naive perhaps, but I never heard before that a hospital went bankrupt. So if it goes bankrupt, will the state buy it, like they bought bankrupt banks? And what's 'they' exactly? Is it 'we', outsourced to some structure called 'state', 'government'? 
I realise I have no idea what a state actualy is. In Italy it's clearly something people experience as something powerfull, messy and malevolent, outside them. I have to admit I always had a vague notion of it being the organisation of the commons, the 'cause public', something just opposite 'the market'. 
There is no academic consensus on the most appropriate definition of the state. The term "state" refers to a set of different, but interrelated and often overlapping, theories about a certain range of political phenomena.The act of defining the term can be seen as part of an ideological conflict, because different definitions lead to different theories of state function, and as a result validate different political strategies.
The most commonly used definition is Max Weber's, which describes the state as a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain territory.
General categories of state institutions include administrative bureaucracies, legal systems, and military or religious organizations.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a state is "a an organized political community under one government; a commonwealth; a nation. b such a community forming part of a federal republic, esp the United States of America".'
David Graeber, in Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (p.65): 
'States have a peculiar dual character. They are at the same time forms of institutionalized raiding or extortion, and utopian projects. The first certainly reflects the way states are actually experienced, by any communities that retain some degree of autonomy; the second however is how they tend to appear in the written record.
In one sense states are the “imaginary totality” par excellence, and much of the confusion entailed in theories of the state historically lies in an inability or unwillingness to recognize this. For the most part, states were ideas, ways of imagining social order as something one could get a grip on, models of control. This is why the first known works of social theory, whether from Persia, or China, or ancient Greece, were always framed as theories of statecraft. This has had two disastrous effects. One is to give utopianism a bad name. (The word “utopia” first calls to mind the image of an ideal city, usually, with perfect geometry—the image seems to harken back originally to the royal military camp: a geometrical space which is entirely the emanation of a single, individual will, a fantasy of total control.) All this has had dire political consequences, to say the least. The second is that we tend to assume that states, and social order, even societies, largely correspond.' 
And on p. 66 he proposes: 'So that’s one project: to reanalyze the state as a relation between a utopian imaginary, and a messy reality involving strategies of flight and evasion, predatory elites, and a mechanics of regulation and control.
All this highlights the pressing need for another project: one which will ask, If many political entities we are used to seeing as states, at least in any Weberian sense, are not, then what are they? And what does that imply about political possibilities?'

Friday 1 March, Genève

And finally time to read. Off to the English bookshop 'Off the Shelve' to order a book I found on the internet: David Weir's Anarchy and Culture. Offcourse we could order it here at Amazon or something, but let's check out the local bookshop, instead of staying inside and spend time on creating yet another login account.
Here a discription of Anarchy and Culture from Google Books:
Anarchism is generally understood as a failed ideology, a political philosophy that once may have had many followers but today attracts only cranks and eccentrics. This book argues that the decline of political anarchism is only half the story; the other half is a tale of widespread cultural success.
David Weir develops this thesis in several ways. He begins by considering the place of culture in the political thought of the classical anarchist thinkers William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, and Peter Kropotkin. He then shows how the perceived "anarchy" of nineteenth-century society induced writers such as Matthew Arnold, Henry James, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky to turn away from politics and seek unity in the idea of a common culture.
Yet as other late nineteenth-century writers and artists began to sympathize with anarchism, the prospect of a common culture became increasingly remote. In Weir's view, the affinity for anarchism that developed among members of the artistic avant-garde lies behind much of fin de siecle culture. Indeed, the emergence of modernism itself can be understood as the aesthetic realization of anarchist politics. In support of this contention, Weir shows that anarchism is the key aesthetic principle informing the work of a broad range of modernist figures, from Henrik Ibsen and James Joyce to dadaist Hugo Ball and surrealist Luis Buñuel.
Weir concludes by reevaluating the phenomenon of postmodernism as only the most recent case of the migration of politics into aesthetics, and by suggesting that anarchism is still very much with us as a cultural condition.

(Afterthought; it will cost me more than 10 CHF extra, this loyalty to the local shopkeeper. I don't know if I'll do that again)

Wednesday 27 february, Genève

We're tired and we watch two reportages online: Do-it-yourself' and 'Glocalisation', both from the series 'tegenlicht' reportages (www.tegenlicht.vpro.nl) about (as sociologist Manuel Castells calls it, we learn) a newly emerging culture of self-organisation. From energy, to health- and disability insurances for freelancers or social care. In about 50 minutes we see all kinds of succesfull local, social initiatives by people who don't trust the old political structures any longer and don't have the patience to wait till one of the few big competing companies who offer the service needed, improve their offer, and so they organise their own alternatives. Green networked energy coops for instance, like Samsø, the Danish island that is now self-sufficient, combining different kinds of green power, generating more electricity than they use themselves. 
By now liberal and neo-liberal governments have put so much emphasis on 'big society', own responsability and so on, just to cover up for the decline of the public institutes and the budget cuts on everything social, critical, and cultural, redistributing responsabilities but not the according budgets, it contaminated words like self-organisation, private initiative and responsability. 
It seems like time for a re-invention and reclaimation of public institutions, and perhaps that's what these kind of initiatives show; small scale re-formulations of what could and should be commons. The word is never mentioned in the reportage, but all these examples are anarchistic initiatives, direct action, practical self-organisation outside of the state and outside of market-logic. Perhaps better without the word. No problem.

Saturday 9 February, Genève

In a cafe we saw an older man, well dressed and wearing gold-rimmed pilot model glasses. In a blue notebook he wrote down the precise amount he had spend on his coffee. When I asked him about it he answered that he wanted to proof he didn't spend much. He worked for the city his whole life, till he had a burn-out. Now his tax bill — I'm cutting short because my french wasn't sufficient - is much too high, so he's making a case by proving his sober life-style to his former employer and the tax authorities. He started to explain that the city and the state are badly governed, the political parties are like sekts to him, and the Swiss work hard, but are way too obedient. We were surprised and brought in mind the international reputation of the Swiss direct democraty, the quality of the public services and public space. But he had no doubts. When I asked: 'mais alors monsieur, sa veut-dire maintenant, vous êtes anarchist?', he laughed and bend forward a bit. He lowered his voice and started to explain us about anarchism, said he studied the principles a bit. He admitted, he said, to have a great sympathy for an anarchism 'de droit', a right-wing anarchism. He fears left-wing anarchists want to destroy everything. Personally he likes order, he explained, so he'ld like the police, the army and the church, the traditions and the law to stay; not in defence of political ideals, but in defence of 'le peuple', freedom of thought, and 'l'humanism'.

Hm... Scary idea; anarchism with police and army. Who will they obey? Would there be existing situations that are more or less like that? Pessoa's Anarchist Banker? And why do the left-wing anarchists have such a bad reputation? They have a much friendlier worldview I guess.
Still: we had our first unexpected meeting with an unexpected, self-declared Swiss anarchist – former public servant. 

Friday 8 February, Genève

Today the Anararchietage in Winterthur started. Would be good to go there on Sunday 10, when there is a lecture of Adi Feller, who will speak about the banishment of anarchists from Switzerland in the late 19th century. How to combine this with the work that needs to be done, and with the Fasnachtmontag trip we planned to Lötschental and Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) in Evolène? Vernacular performance. I've been looking forward to that, and we're so close now. Winterthur is in the far North-East corner of the country, and Evolèle just South-East of Geneva. 

Thursday 7 February, Genève

Serious delay: I am doing the design and layout for a book, and now suddenly, between page 68 and 69 there is a 'black hole'. All text- and image boxes dissappear in it, and while I was trying to fix it, without further notice the software generated 300 new pages, in which the lost content poppes up at seemingly random places. One day lost solving it.
Also some very good news: we can make an appointment to talk with Florian Eitel, a Swiss student of the University of Fribourg who is writing his thesis on anarchism. He is considered the specialist of the university in the matter. 

Wednesday 6 February, Genève

Cleaning discussion in the house. Shall we make a scedule? Shall we hire someone?

Tuesday 5 February, Genève

So now we live in Villa Baron, Embassy of Foreign Artists, together with Emile and Merel. In the day also Madeleine, Angela and Richard are here to work, and every day different people came along for this or that. We all share the kitchen, the bathroom, the wintergarten — everything except our small private rooms with bed and desk. I allready learned  where to buy food and in which categories to divide the garbage, I know the shower takes 5 minutes to get warm in the morning, we have our own shelve in the fridge and the kitchen cupboard, and I start to get an idea how the wintergarden, the most beautifull place in the house, is politely timeshared. I know that if you want to go to the toilet at night you need to be dressed, because the balcony you cross on the way has very bright lights that are activated by a movement sensor. I would like to see that from the point of view of a passer-by.

The villa is a countryhouse, mid 19th century, and the city has been growing  all the way up to the walls of the garden. It's an enclave, the garden is surrounded by small industry ('50s till '70s I think) mega-shops (new) and private banks (inbetween). We're here to find out about anarchism, about the early Russian anarchists who were in exile in this part of Switzerland––a quiet place to prepare the revolution. 
Can art be that kind of place were one gets space and time to figure out new concepts? I see enclaves everywhere now. Switzerland the tax haven in Europe (as the Netherlands are too), this house a little island in the bussiness area, the field of art as an enclave in the logic of the time. Hopefully. It's difficult to see the water you swim in so you need to be able to get out and look at it. 

Side by Side

To the reader of this blog.
From beginning of February to end of April (2013) we are escaping to Switzerland. Here we found temporary cultural asylum in the Embassy of Foreign Artists in Genève. We will use this shelter from the chilly cultural weather in the Netherlands, to study the principles of anarchism and self-organisation, hoping to bring home some useful ideas and experiences.

Simultaneously we will work on another project: A pocket edition for New Existentialism, an exhibition in 7 parts by curator Alexandra Blättler for her exhibition at Kurator*, in Rapperwil. Our new Fucking Good Art will be the seventh and final closing part. The subject will be intolerance and disease caused by the pressure to performe in the art world. It is somehow closely related to our Countryside Issues, a series of short explorations of contemporary art at the periphery, beyond the hubbub of Europe’s cultural centres of London, Paris, Milan and Berlin. It is about the anarchists, utopians, escapists, dreamers, idealists and pragmatists who have left the slipstream behind, who have moved away from the city and ‘back to the land’, simply to get some work done in places where space and time are less scarce.

During our stay we are opening up our editorial atelier and publish our fresh findings side by side on this blog.

The artists/editors Robert Hamelijnck and Nienke Terpsma

A1 format poster


Embassy of Foreign Artists
Belluard Bollwerk International
Centre International de Recherches sur l'Anarchisme (CIRA)
International institute of social history
Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis
Espace Noir
AJZ Biel/CAJ Bienne
Infokiosque Encre Noire
Fédération Anarchiste
l'Ephéméride Anarchiste
International bookshop Het Fort Van Sjakoo
Anarchist Buchladen Schwarze Risse
Buchladen Zur schwankenden Weltkugel
Boekhandel De Rooie Rat
The Idler Academy-bookshop London
Freedom Press bookshop
Fahrenheit 451 bookshop Geneve
Arcata Bruxelles
Anarchy Archives
Organized Rage

Fucking Good Art HQ Geneva
Fucking Good Art p/a Embassy of Foreign Artists Rue Subilia 45, 1227 Carouge Genève / Switzerland