Artists in Occupy Amsterdam

(The report below was written on the 2nd of November 2011, halfway through our stay on the Beursplein. The camp was dismantled on the 8th of December.)

We have been sitting in a big green army tent on the Beursplein in Amsterdam for three weeks now, thinking about the role of artists in the Occupy movement, and putting our thoughts into action. A new constellation of artists, poets, musicians and writers has formed around our tent, turning what initially seemed an impulsive intervention into a common project, the scope of which is growing by the day.

A daily reading group has been set up by the poet and composer Samuel Vriezen, between 11:00 and 12:00 am, which has tackled texts by authors such as Nick Land, David Friedman, Stevphen Shukaitis, Terry Eagleton and Jeroen Mettes. Check for the schedule and the texts. The reading group is usually followed by a meeting in which practical issues are discussed. Then in the evening we offer a program of presentations and lectures, such as an introduction to the Iranian Green Movement and the role of art in it, or the Spanonymous group with their banners against the culture cuts. Tomorrow at 19:30 Stefan Majakowski will talk on "Cinema and Resistance", and the day after there will be an Occupation style moderation-workshop.

Yesterday we were joined by 30 students of graphic design, brought by their tutor from the HKU, who will be working on projects related to the camp in the next two weeks. At the start of our stay here, we provided the materials and slogans for the protest signs to be carried in the demonstration march to the Nederlandsche Bank. And since a few days, a 7 meter wide banner hangs over the entrance to the camp, combining the text "Made possible in part by:" with the logos of banks that have been bailed out with taxpayers money. Chto Delat, who is in town for the symposium at SKOR, has visited us today to see the environment in which we are working, and will try to move a part of their Brechtian "Rehearsal for learning play" to the occupied square.

While life in the camp comes with its inconveniences and hardships, it is a rewarding experience to be in the midst of what is shaping up to be a new sense of democracy. We attend the general assemblies of the camp, which are every day at 12:00 and 18:30, and try to be as obliging as possible to the other residents of the camp, while retaining a level of autonomy within the whole. The discussions and activities that take place in our tent are truly inspiring, but if that is not enough to entice some of you to come and join us here, let me take this opportunity to bring to your attention that we have a perfectly functioning heater in the tent, electricity and internet!

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