We can truly understand this society only by negating it.
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle
Capitalism, as with any form of social organisation, is a mode of creating human subjectivities. Its radical nature lies in its aspiration to do so in all of the spheres of human existence and in its capacity to constantly render the aspiration real. It knows no geographical, cultural, ethical or social limits; it refuses even presumed unsurpassable biological and physical limits. Apparatuses of social control function not only at the levels of conscious fear, corruption and ideology; they stream below the surface of cognition, touching emotions, gestures, bodies, reflexes, chemical flows and micro/molecular structures. Our selves are the children of a complex, constantly changing war machine of extraction and exploitation of energy, against which there is increasingly no outside, no exteriority: wild/pre/parallel/anti-capitalist forms of life. The disaster is total.
Against the destruction of capitalism, there remains then only the choice, the desire, or the will to destroy it. And in the event of the destruction, to lose our selves, those carefully crafted selves of passivity and submission.
In acts of transgressive rebellion, we discover or re-discover that beneath the relations of control that mould us, that we are no-thing and that we can become every-thing.
The film Get rid of yourself is a celebration of insurrection …
Get Rid of Yourself is a video-film-tract addressed to those who anonymously embody the return of political activism within Empire. While its initial sounds and images were filmed during the riots in Genoa, 2001, these materials are pulled apart and recomposed in order to locate the intensity of a shared experience, rather than producing one more documentary version of the programmed and hyper-mediatized confrontation of the G8 counter-summit. Elaborating a complex and rhythmic form of address via sound/image disjunctions, cheap video effects and performance, the film declares its own exile from a biopolitical space-time where nothing ever happens. The crisis it announces is the sudden return of history, but this time without characters or a story, and of a politics without subjects.
Provisionally aligning itself with the so-called ‘Black Bloc’ movement – with the arrogance of its discourse as well as the force and style of their resistance – Get Rid of Yourself is an encounter with emerging, non-instituted or identity-less forms of protest that refuse the representational politics of the official Left. Edited in the aftermath of 9/11 – a period of doubt, reflection and heightened security measures worldwide – the film also attempts to measure the strange distance these events have crossed, and the increasing repression under which the feeling of ‘civil war’ has been buried in the meantime. A filmed essay that works by betraying its own form, Get Rid of Yourself tries to approach what is most open in an event, rather than capturing and completing it as something recognizable.
(Bernadette Corporation – 2003, DV, 61 min, featuring Chloe Sevigny and Werner von Delmont)
(For a discussion with Antek Walczak of the Bernadette Corporation, click here)
[medical security state, fires, title of film “get rid of yourself”]
[Female Voice] (modified text from Tiqqun2: “How is it to be done?”)
TWENTY YEARS. Twenty years of counter-revolution. Of preventive
Twenty years of a sleep under the eyes of security guards behind security gates,
guards. A sleep of bodies, imposed by curfew.
Twenty years. The past does not pass. Because war continues.
A new (?) calibration of subjectivities. In a new superficial peace.
An armed peace
well made to cover the course of an imperceptible
Twenty years, there was
punk, the movement of 77, Autonomy,
the city Indians, an eruption,
a whole counter-world of subjectivities
that no longer wanted to consume, that no longer wanted to produce,
that no longer even wanted to be subjectivities.
The revolution was molecular, the counter-revolution was also molecular.
[genoa g8 protestors / police]
[different female voice, in French with subtitles]
Once, during the first day
we ran into a group of pacifists.
They were blocking our escape route
after we burned the banks by the sea.
Nearby, there was a big social democrat march,
and in front of us was a stairway.
It was the only way out
to avoid getting caught between the police and the demonstrators.
But it was blocked by these pacifists from LILLIPUT
who started to interrogate us and our friends, saying:
Why do you go on doing this?
There’s already been on death, do you want to cause another?
And then we told them:
What the fuck are you saying?
It’s not our fault that someone died.
It was an act of repression.
Something we must react against,
and not hide at home under the bed.
If it comes to that, it means that THEY have already won.
We kept running into this same kind of logic,
one that’s completely perverse and has to be stopped.
Their aggressiveness was so delirious…
standing there, breathing tear gas, with the cops advancing,
blocking our way saying:
Yeah, but anyway. You’ve understood nothing.
Because you rise up its’ your fault.
You’re the ones who really killed Carlos Giuliani.
And there was one woman who said to me:
My dear, I’ve been protesting since before you were born.
And if we have a society like this, it’s also thanks to me.
I said [sarcastically]: Hey, thanks for the society you’ve left me
and for the position you occupy, still, after all these years.
It was astonishing her aggression.
It’s a kind of thinking that is very close to the logic of the police.
I mean, those who rationalize the police monopoly on violence,
will always need more cops
just to keep enjoying life.
So in a way, pacifists, with their so-called virginity
end up reinforcing the system they say they criticize.
[images of cruise missile, followed by protest footage of a busy street with people talking by – protestors and regular people, covered in the mist of teargas and smoke]
“Empire is everywhere where nothing happens.” flashes across the screen.
[Bernadette Corporation logo, other credits – mix of music]
[white texts scrolls across a black screen:]
They say, “another world is possible.” But I am another world. Am I possible? I am here, living, stealing, doing cocaine, subtracting myself from the bad movie of urban love stories, inventing weapons, elaborating the complex constellation of my relations, building the Party. They say “another world is possible.” But we do not want another world, another order, another justice: another logical nightmare. We do not want any global governance be it fair, be it ecological, be it certified by Porto Allegre. We want THIS world. We want this world as chaos. We want the chaos of our lives, the chaos of our perceptions, the chaos of our desires and repulsions. The chaos that happens when management collapses. Capitalism defeated traditional societies because it was more exciting than they were, but now there is something more exciting than Capitalism, itself: its destruction.
[images of black bloc’ers]
Well, the black bloc thing is is is,
when you view it from the media, the police, it is an organized group,
and they are organized because they all dress the same, because they all put the same things on, because they move together.
They are very well organized, says the papers or the police communiques.
But what you realize, when you are part of it, is that it is just some sort of spontaneous, intelligent… moves… you dress in black because (sighs) so you can more easily know who you are walking with. And to.. uh… everybody is looking the same so it is far more difficult to spot out .. uh.. individuals. It is simple, what, you have to be, uh, realistic about the whole thing. So you’re moving in the street with some kind of uh… undercover army, you’ve got your body protected, you’ve your black (image of ‘noir radical chic’) [baroque music fades in]
…. your face is hidden behind a mask or a handkerchief or whatever
[image of models having makeup put on, then posters and newspapers]
[images of black bloc store smashing in a small window on a laptop screen on a table somewhere]
[male voice in french. images of beach cut against people in sleeping bags.]
Well, I think it’s the moment
where there’s no more scenario.
No prescribed scenario,
as to which objectives, which directions to go,
or what to confront.
[images of cars passing a residential street, all honking]
There’s a moment …
when you arrive at these kinds of situations
with some people you know,
friends, people you meet, chance encounters.
And then you begin to lose them,
because the action makes everybody scatter.
[images of a protest scene. mist of tear gas in a square. small group of protestors, cameras, and a black bloc’er in the middle of the shot. people scatter]
It’s at that point where you feel something that goes beyond you.
[return to residential street]
You’re no longer a subject, the points of references are lost.
And then it’s about what you observe around you
[back to protest, with someone throwing something back in the direction the tear gas came from]
and the way you begin to imitate what’s happening.
In my opinion, that’s the improvisational element,
and this is one of the most important elements.
But it has little to do with spontaneity.
[back to protest, group of protestors excitedly milling around together]
Improvisation is how things begin to really happen.
[back to residential street]
And it’s a coordinate beginning, musical …
It’s not about pure chaos, pure spontaneity.
[Protest. Police vehicle spraying water cannon advances toward the viewed from the middle of the shot.]
What’s more is that you don’t see much in these moments.
[Protest. Protestors running from side to side, barely on screen for a moment. Background is a haze of tear gas.]
You don’t have a wide field of vision.
There’s a general opacity, because everyone’s masked,
[beach. Shot follows a jetski.]
the cops as well as the rioters,
plus there’s the tear gas,
and also there’s the opacity of the crowd.
And so the greater part of perception
[Quick pan. Police helicopter appears in shot where the jetski was. Bad FX multiplies the screen – 2×2, 3×3, 4×4, 5×5, 6×6…]
of what was going on was organized by sound.
We advanced through the city,
[back to protest. someone on his cellphone.]
not knowing where to go.
[pans to someone throwing things]
Sometimes we blocked the streets
to keep the police away.
[beach. Family playing]
We put up barricades for protection,
using trash containers we found in the street.
We set them on fire.
And then we would move on.
People were looting all the shops along the streets.
Newsstands, real estate offices, travel agencies.
[beach. From a porch, towels and suits hanging on the railing, drying.]
Breaking everything, burning cars …
[A table outside in the sun.]
[Women’s voice from before, in french]
No, I wasn’t breaking things. I was taking things.
[Different table. Shot from above, a man cutting a melon, another sweeping, a woman sitting on the side, a few others barely seen — all of their faces obscured.]
It’s very strange, the store’s shelves without any lighting, the darkness.
You get the impression of stepping into a territory
[Zoom into the table. The melon, an open box of corn flakes, a wine opener, and some comic books.]
that’s familiar and at the same time totally bizarre.
It’s like going into a cinema, but there’s no movie playing.
[Bad FX: the center of the screen starts to ‘melt away’ like it was being stretched]
The lights remain half on, as if something will be ending or starting.
It was just like that when I was in the supermarket.
[A billboard of prepared food: waffles, deli cheese, sausages.]
Really odd … no cops, no security guards, no cashiers, nothing at all.
[Zoom out of the billboard to see the whole store – ‘Despar’, with cars parked all around.]
Just darkness, and all the products you can barely see,
with plenty of people around, taking whatever they want.
It’s a funny experience.
You know, when you’re in a normal supermarket under normal conditions,
sometimes there’s this little voice that wakens up inside you,
and it says: “All this could be different.”
And maybe then you start to sneak things into your pockets,
because the rules of consumerism are just too stupid to deal with.
[Zoom back in on the waffle wall.]
[Back to the beach]
[Male voice from before. French]
It’s simple. It’s just that…Personally, I can no longer take a walk in the city
[Supermarket. Man rides off on a motorbike.]
without feeling the violence of everything around me.
[Train lines next to a parking lot for the beach.]
I get slapped in the face every day.
Whether it’s from the normal bullshit people dish out,
[shot begins to pan]
or the extra-violent force of things already in place,
everything that holds the present society together.
[different male voice interjects, also in French]
So in fact, when you submit everyday to a violence like that …
There’s a point where you start to get violent, too.
Otherwise you’re deeply unhappy,
just like a lot people are unhappy.
[A young woman sitting in the back of a car. A toddler cries in the background.]
Unhappy because they’re taught that violence isn’t a solution,
while it’s the main thing causing all their psychological problems.
[Back to the trail line. Music swells, a train goes by, a few people walk by with beach chairs.]
[Protest. Black bloc’ers drag objects down a street, imitating the beach bums, forming a barricade. Camera men walk alongside.]
[Male voice. English]
I was… well, i was uh.. well, because of fright I came here.
[beach, setting sun]
I was curious to endure and cope with my fears…
[onto a beach. shaky hand-held shot, women lies on beach towel]
about a lot of things. About the violence from the cops, physical violence. The risk of being arrested.
[More barricade construction.]
The trial and everything.
[Train passing again]
[New Male voice, French.]
I guess something extraordinary happened there.
It was the first time in my life
[Repetition of first blockade shot. But with the left third of the screen covered by a black ribbon.]
that I experience a zone…
a zone arising in a determined space where power has lost control.
The place was crawling with cops, but they couldn’t do anything.
[Black ribbon, replaced with a scene form the beach. Blockades continue on right third. Epic music plays.]
[beach and music stop.]
You go. You are lost.
Nowhere is your measure of value.
You go, with no idea of who you are.
[Chloe Sevigny (CS) sitting in a middle-class kitchen, with a script lying in front of her.]
But your ignorance is your blessing,
and like the first human, you have no value.
[The dialogues start to overlap]
[CS] I helped blow up a gas station.
[M] Go follow the paths…
[CS] I helped blow up a gas station…
[M] If you were not so lost, you’d have no destiny for encounters.
[CS] I helped blow up a gas station.
[Rock music swells. Protest. Man kicks tear gas canister. Loud sirens.]
[Superimposed handwritten text dances across the screen.]
“ANARCHIA W CONSIGLIOPERA W DEMOCRAZIA DIRETTA NO AL PARTITO COMUNISTA”
(anarchy, with workers-councils, with direct democracy, no communist party)
[Fat man without a shirt, with a crazy wig, pipe, short cane, and obvious facial prosthetics sits on a log in a park, opening up a newspaper.]
[Reads loudly from newspaper in Italian]
GENOA. BLOOD ON THE G8… ANTI-GLOBALIST YOUTH FROM GENOA MURDERED IN BATTLE WITH POLICE… HAVOC & DEVASTATION… THE RED ZONE ASSAULT… 180 WOUNDED…
What beautiful news!
[Back to Chloe in the bourgeois kitchen. Nervously leans on counter, looking at the script.]
[CS reads very quietly, under her breath, like she’s doing a ‘read over’]
screaming … out of control… [can’t make out.]
[CS moves to table, clears her voice. Shot moves to her hands as she fidgets and plays with something on the table.]
[Male voice, in french]
So we saw these people
pulling on a supermarket gate,
the roll-down security gate.
[Back to wide shot, CS writing on her script]
And they tore it halfway off.
[Shot of the torso of a woman at a table, eating a sandwich.]
This gave everyone access.
[More kitchen shots.]
We broke the windows and went inside.
We grabbed stuff to eat and drink,
bottles of alcohol, these little chocolate cakes…
You know the brand PICNIC BREAK? I was eating those.
[A child enters the scene. An unidentifiable woman plays with him.]
The first thing everyone did when we went in the store
[CS’s face, she giggles.]
was destroy all the cash registers.
Some people were into ‘gratuitous pillaging’
They got their kicks breaking whiskey bottles,
[CS standing at counter, writing on script]
knocking down shelves, throwing jars of jam,
tearing apart racks of ham.. that kind of thing.
[water bottle poured on a disembodied hand]
After that, I went back outside.
[CS back at counter]
Then everyone else piled in
and emptied the place. All I got was two bottles of whiskey…
[quick cycle of shots from previous scenes of film]
[back to CS in the kitchen. she has her hand on her face, looking reflective]
In the middle of the first day the whole thing happened, I ran into an old friend of mine I hadn’t seen in months.
I saw her all by herself, smashing up an ATM machine with a hammer.
She seemed completely in her own world.
A year ago, we had a little argument about street violence.
She was hesitating, really resisting the idea.
And now there she was, all by herself, apart from the others, hammering away.
She spent like ten, fifteen minutes destroying the ATM screen.
She looked crazy. She looked happy.
It was a kind of joyful insanity.
[‘Snap’, like she was doing ‘another take’ of the narrative.]
[Protest footage. (A) graffiti on the wall, next to an ATM]
There she was. And there she was, next to the bank all by herself.
No. Now, there she was, next to the bank, apart from the others. Thrashing at the ATM machine. Hammering away.
Fuck. [giggles. Back to CS]
Now, there she was, next to the bank, apart from the others. Hammering away. She spent like ten or fifteen minutes.
[starts looking down at the script, as if she is trying to memorize her lines but failing]
Destroying the ATM screen. Really out of control. She looked happy… she looked crazy… it was a kind of joyful insanity.
[Protest. Water cannon trucks are faced down by protestors, tear gas slowly fills the shot.]
[CS, writing on script]
This… life… is… shit… and… you… choose… to… burn… it… up.
[slaps hands together like ‘I’m done.’ and goes for a cigarette]
a moment of clarity it helps you underst…. moment of clarity helps you understand that this life is shit and that you choose to burn it up…
smashing […] feeling, that’s when you actually start laughing for once. Burning desks and cubicles. All these pathetically humanized work spaces. A moment of clarity helps you do it. You’ll understand that this life is shit and you choose to burn it up.
[CS lights cigarette]
[happy imitation 50s music, a couple walking by a river, into the sunset]
[male voice, in french]
In the great social body of Empire…
[a department store]
which has the inertia of a beached jellyfish.
[a tourism boat goes under a bridge]
In the great social body of Empire which is like a huge jellyfish beaches all around the earth,
[People drinking in a fancy restaurant, watching the sunset]
electrodes are implanted.
Hundreds and thousands, an unbelievable amount,
[People milling about a renaissance festival]
so diverse they don’t even seem like electrodes.
There’s the TV electrode, the money electrode,
[Billboards for DKNY]
the pharmaceutical electrode, the JEUNE FILLE electrode.
[A blank plastic head.]
With these millions of electrodes,
[A narrow city street]
the dull encephalogram of the Imperial metropole is maintained.
[Models waiting for a photoshoot.]
These mostly imperceptible conduits
constantly send information, thoughts, affects, and anti-affects,
that prolong the universal sleep.
[Zoom in on a model reading a magazine.]
I almost forgot the receptors attached to the electrodes…
the journalists, sociologists, cops,
[Couple walking into the sunset, again.]
intellectuals, professors, and other agents
who have been generously delegated the task
[Chase Bank advertisement, “Good Times. Bad Times All Times. Chase is committed…”]
of directing the activity of the electrodes.
[Small talk, glasses clinking, and a piano plays. We watch the city out of a highrise window.]
It’s not accident they transmit at any convenient moment
these or those feelings of terror, satisfaction, or threat.
The population is kept at a certain level of anguish,
and receptive to general regression: “the taste for dependence.”
No one should escape their bored or rebellious passivity,
or be heard above the awful hum of claims and demands
generated by the Imperial incubator.
They say, “the time of heroes is over,”
hoping to bury with it all forms of heroism.
[Music changes. Bells and beeps. Fast pans across the city.]
[Jagged parts as if a ‘broken pane’ cycle across the screen. A smashed up office with “Fight Kapital” sloppily graffitied on the wall.]
[Outdoor furniture on a large patio, at the tail end of sunset. A consistent beep.]
[A full zoom to a dull, lit corner. Claustrophobic.]
[Woman, in French.]
I gathered stones and put them in my pocket.
[A gecko crawls out from the corner.]
But I don’t know, when you…
I guess a metal pole’s not bad for bashing in windows.
[Gecko disappears. Move to a trashed room. Eerie music starts.]
And what’s really good for self-defense are chains.
You can hide them in your pockets.
They’re a good means of deterrence.
For a woman that’s important
[Back to the gecko, who peaks out of the corner, then stays in the light.]
just for going out at night.
So then what else?
Basically, I didn’t burn that many things
since I didn’t bring Molotov cocktails.
[Protest. Car on fire. Everyone running from it. Eerie music swells.]
We had to make them on the spot
by breaking open the gas tanks of motorcycles.
They’re small, but usually have enough gas to fill a bottle.
Then you throw them at a bank, or in a car for a barricade,
and they start a decent fire.
[Manipulated crowd noise. Black. Man jumps from rock into ocean. Black again.]
A riot atop the street, […] burning.
[Pavement goes by, like the camera-person is running.]
[CS in the kitchen]
I gathered stones and put them in my pockets. [rehearsing, pacing, exaggerated gestures]
I gathered stones and put them in my pockets. [gestures like putting something in her pocket, though she’s wearing a dress]
But I don’t know, metal poles aren’t that bad for bashing in a window.
And what’s really good for self-defense is chains.
You can steal them off traffic poles.
They’re discreet because you can put them in your pockets.
And they work great. If only as an instrument of dissuasion.
Also, you can break open the gas tank of motorbikes to make molotov cocktails. There’s usually at least … at least enough … there’s usually enough to fill at least one bottle. These you can . um. throw into banks or into a car to make a barricade with a burning car or thrown them at cops. The best molotov cocktails are made with acid, a mix of gas and acid, they burn better and cause more damage to cops… because … [looks at script] they burn better and cause more damage to cops because they eat through riot gear when the burn. Voila! [frustrated yelp]
[grabs dress, frustrated]
I gathered stones and put them in my pockets. But I don’t know, a metal pole isn’t that bad for bashing through a window.
Hmm, and through a window…
I gathered stones and put them in my pockets. But I don’t know, a metal pole isn’t that bad for bashing a window.
[background is cut away from CS, revealing a white mist that becomes a protest scene seen before]
And what’s really good for self-defense is chains. They’re discreet because you can hide them in your pockets. And they work great. In only as an instrument of dissuasion.
[CS clears throat]
For a woman in the streets, it’s really important.
For a woman in the streets, that’s really important.
[Fades again. Protest scene is an overturned car.]
Also, you can break open the gas tank of motorbikes to make molotov cocktails. There’s usually enough to fill up at least one bottle. These you can throw into the banks, or into a car, to make a barricade with a burning car. Or throw them at cops. The best molotov cocktails are made with acid. A mixture of acid and gas. These burn better and cause more damage cops because they eat throw riot gear when they burn.
[TV showing riot cops.]
[Man in English w/ European accident]
Well we were just going for a little walk. And I saw all these young people there, you know. They’re having all these signs, and carrying them around, and protesty-protesty. Then came the policemen. And we watched the policemen. And then there was the fire burning. And then I saw the police car burning. And then I saw the police shooting these tear gas bombs. And then everything went crazy. And then people were running.
And look at all them blisters here. Do you see this? [shows foot]
[struggles to stand, groans, puts feet in pond]
[puts wet feet on newspaper.]
[walks around pond, picks up metal rod and a catfish]
This is capitalism today. [throws fish back]
A fat fish that doesn’t swim anymore.
Capitalism has created the pesce [fish], and then they killed the pesce, because it doesn’t want to swim in the direction or something that this. Now we can’t even eat it, it is rotten. Everything is rotten today.
[Clouds. Sullen piano.]
[Overlay on clouds of young woman putting her head on a pillow.]
[Man, in French]
The sleep of this time is not a restful one,
but rather an anguished sleep that leaves you more exhausted,
only desiring to sleep again and escape the irritating reality.
There is a narcosis that leads to an even deeper narcosis.
[Full moon through the branches of a pine tree.]
[Man, in French]
Those who, by luck or misfortune, awaken from this sleep,
enter the world as lost children.
Where are the words, where is the house?
Where are my loves, my friends, my ancestors?”
[Dance club. Dance music.]
There are none, my child.
Everything must be built:
the language you inhabit,
the house where you will not be alone,
the ancestry that will make you more free.
And you must build a new sentimental education
through which you will love once more.
And all this built upon a general hostility,
because the awakened ones
[world trade centers]
are the nightmare of those still asleep.
[Black screen. Very loud music. It stops. Then yelling and the screaming of a young child. After a while, you realize it’s the Genoa protest in the middle of a hail of tear gas. The volley of tear gas stops, some yelling rallies an advance. More screams. Quiet. Then shots. Yelling and screaming. A helicopter flies over. Sounds fade]
[At sunset, a couple leaves an umbrella on the rocks at the beach. The umbrella is on fire.]
[Male, in French]
At the end of the Roman Empire, everything was equally worn out.
The bodies tired, the gods dying, and presence in crisis.
A great sigh resounded throughout a world in exile:
Let’s be done with it!
The end of a civilization sparked a new beginning.
Wandering relieved the condition of feeling foreign everywhere.
One had to extract oneself from the ‘civilizing business’.
While the famous sects led unique experiments in communism,
others found the necessary exodus in solitude.
They were called the monakhoi, or ‘solitaires’ or ‘only ones’.
They went off into the desert, miles away from Alexandria.
There gathered so many of these solitaires, or deserters,
that they had to invent rules for collective living.
Influenced by Christian asceticism, these became the first monasteries.
One could say that the monasteries quickly gave birth
to a civilization more dreadful one than previous ones.
Nevertheless, a civilization was born.
This is to illustrate the value of an offensive retreat.
At certain moments in the art of war,
places and friends are more strategic than weapons or shields.
Those who go into exile, exile others.
When the stranger leaves, he takes the inhabitable city with him.
[CS, quietly rehearsing]
And insanely aggressive?
[Looks at script]
And they can be insanely aggressive.
[Looks at it again]
They said, we’ve been protesting since…
they say… they say.. we’ve been protesting….
[Male, in French]
If I must define the old world, I’d say it’s a way of linking
affects to gestures, affects to word.
It’s a sentimental education that we’ve had enough of.
And if I muse define an orgy, I’d say it happens when
one person or another starts breaking the links
between affects and gestures, affects and words,
and then everyone else joins in.
We’ve been protesting since before you were born. And it’s thanks to us that you have a protest culture at all.
And I saw, thanks so much for your lame protest culture.
[looks at script]
I’m so grateful.
And thanks for making the space for me in your beautiful alternative world.
[Protest. People running past a street ad. Then the remains of the burning umbrella on the beach.]
[Black screen, fades into remains of umbrella on the beach.]
[Male, in French]
So now, there’s the metropolis.
Appropriate what can’t be appropriated.
Pretend to ignore our perdition.
Play at being men, women, husbands, wives, lovers,
play the couple — stay busy.
Set up the most serious world in the most tiresome infantilism.
Forget in a flood of feelings the cynicism of metropolitan life,
and talk about love, always and again, after so many ruptures.
Those who say “Another world is possible” and do not offer
another sentimental education besides novels and teledramas
deserve to be spat on the face.
[blond model. then grinning face painted w/ Amerikan flag has clouds projected on it. then a red dot like a flare passes over it.]
[Noisy mass protest that is too massive to fit in the shot.]
[…]these protests, these desire killing demonstrations where nothing happens.
And which demonstrate nothing more than the collective absence. To go the other end of the world to protest global economy. Only to come back. After a good bath of togetherness and mediatized separation. And to submit onesself to a local economy. And further in the newspaper. Everyone alone together. Once upon a time… young. bored. empty.
[Eerie distorted music.]
[Shot of mass demo flattened onto a plane like a piece of paper, refit on the screen at a sharp, wriggling angle like a flag waving in the wind.]
[Shots of single men looking isolate, alone, bored. Then a few women. Then a mix.]
[Really bad exit shot, screens dissolve into blocks that spinning into oblivion. Revealing a G8 protest map – red zone, yellow zone.]
[Alternating shots of construction vehicles/surveillance equipment and red/yellow map (from Situationist book?) with text “Remnants of Auschwitz” e.g. Agamben’s book, then the text changes to “Remnants of Woodstock” then fireworks begin appears on the map.]
[Male in American English, but heavy accent, children in the background]
I think that it is obvious that when are living in big cities, you are always subjects to control devices like very very very simple and … like when you drive a car on a one-way-street, all your attention is captured by not breaking any rules so as not to be caught. And when we’re there, it was possible because of the number, to act more freely. To find new difficulties [challenges], like how to evolve in a medium where you can decide and not rely or count upon any immediate reactions from the police or the forces because it was more an event-reality or a ruled-reality or a substantial-reality.
[Fenced state-barricades, opened up into a street with riot police trucks]
[Female voice, English]
A step to the side, a slight displacement. To begin again means to inhabit this displacement.
To assume capitalist schizophrenia in the sense of an increasing capacity of desubjectivi….
[CS on the floor of a living room, face down]
[back to riot police trucks on the street]
to become opaque extracting as a living and as a fighting
so that, at a chosen moment, i test this slight displacement.
i become a whatever singularity.
[a green car passes by. then a man in green pants walks by, imitating the car]
everything that isolates me as subject,
as a body endowed with a public configuration of attributes
[back to shots of cop cars]
i feel it dissolve, bodies fray at their edges
at their limit, they blur
little by little, i achieve a new nakedness
[street fades to a tiny glowing cross]
that’s what i need for communism is.
i need for nocturnal spaces,
where we can find each other beyond our qualities.
[protest street, covered in smoke. radio voice of woman]
little tiny pieces of building is just floating in the wind, around it.
[…] a huge cloud has enveloped that part of lower Manhattan.
[male radio voice]
people are running down the street, screaming…
[Male, in French]
And then there can be these long moments of wandering,
[Protest. Riot trucks, police, mass protestors. Crowded.]
where you’re searching for the continuation … the intensity.
You’re asking everybody where it went,
so somebody passes you a joint, and says, “It’s this way.”
Then someone else says, “No, it’s that way.”
[zoom into crowd. one young protestors looks around frantically, like he’s lost]
And these moments when you find yourself alone,
really alone, in the middle of a riot…
That’s when you’ve lost your part.
You don’t know what keeps you going.
[Protest. Advancing shields/bodies of the Tute Bianche]
It becomes obvious that being in a riot is simply the fact that
for once, you feel that being ‘whatever’
is not the same as being someone who is nowhere.
These are really two different things.
Being ‘whatever’ is a situation of improvisation, like I said before.
[Protest. Lone Tute Bianche in the middle of street, looking lost.]
And to be nowhere, alone in the crowd,
to be what we normally mean when we say ‘whatever’
is a kind of suffering … an immediate suffering.
[Ocean. Small floating iceberg in the foreground.]
[Iceberg explodes upwards, revealing that that it’s a sheet and that there is someone underneath it making it jump.]
[Disorienting shots of a woman with pulled back brown hair and a drapey white blouse, holding a camcorder, fly across the screen. Up, down, backwards, Then with exaggerated proportions that give her a small head and large hands.]
[Graffiti: “PRODUCI CONSUMA CREPA” ‘produce consume drop dead’]
[Baroque harpsichord music.]
[Woman in the middle of a studio, carelessly putting electronic equipment in a box.]
[Laptop with a small window open showing a riot.]
This attempt to freeze the unpredictable corpse of my becomings.
Between the veils of an identity.
[Protest scenes. Eyewash. “Destroy false dreamlands” graffiti.]
The attempt to convert me to the religion of the coherence I do not choose.
[Overlay: peasant couple / World Trade Center]
The […] oikos…
[CS, art filter]
[Ocean overlay protest]
I need to become anonymous in order to become present.
THe more anonymous I am, the more present I am.
What do you think about youth violence?
[Fat man scene. Fat man responds.]
It’s not the violence.
[Q] Smashing things.
[FM} It’s to create pictures, you know.
You create pictures.
[Italian Paper on G8, shows the “ANARCHIA” writing shown earlier. Shots go between Fat Man and newspaper clippings.]
I think the young people of today, they need a little bit more strategy.
They are a little bit too confused about their own … you know… what they are supposed to do.
You see, they made it. They were made, but why … if they are made… why are they so confused?
They are themselves, so astonished that they can do these things.
And they have so much fun in doing it.
But they miss a little bit more of intelligence. Strategic intelligence.
So they become aware that they are created. And they act in a more sophisticated way.
They have to create the pictures, the images, in a more sophisticated way.
Do you understand this?
[FM] I mean, they barely good images yesterday. There was a whole underpass burning. The police couldn’t go through. And all these things. But they are too confused because they are too astonished about their own being made.
[Protest. Mass journalists taking pictures of a small group of protestors. Foreboding music starts.]
[Fat man, asked by questioner…]
Corporate images. Bank machines.
[FM] Yes, I mean, this is normal you know. There is this stupid sentence “Macht kaput machten[???]”[in German] This means ‘Destroy what it destroys.” So this was, in 1970. And since then, it doesn’t hasn’t really advanced. Maybe a little bit. I see now that they destroy what they like. And this is much better.
[Models. Preparing a shot.]
[Protest. Some women screaming a phrase – incomprehensible.]
[Renaissance Fair. Woman sitting, dressed in a costume, holding a tree with butterflies.]
[Male, in French.]
There is this old notion, Bolshevik, and a little frigid, for sure:
The building of the Party.
I think think that our present war is about buidling the Party.
Or rather, it’s about giving new content
to this depopulated fiction.
We talk, we lick each other,
[Protest. Picture of tipped car from before.]
we prepare a film, a night out, a riot
we meet a friend, we share a meal, a bed, we fuck.
[Overlay protest w/ dog.]
In other words: we are building the Party.
Fiction is a serious thing.
We need fiction to believe in the reality we are living.
The Party is the central fiction.
the one that tells the story of the war of this time.
[Dog disappears, right where a line of riot cops appear on screen.]
[Stack of political theory books, Foucault, Haraway, Arendt, etc]
Whoever acts, today,
acts as a lost child.
Wandering governs this abandon, so we wander.
[Protest. Mass march, protestors holdings hands as they walk. Shots slowly overlay sidewise, and in many different directions.]
We wander among the ruins of civilization.
But precisely because it is in ruins, this civilization,
there are no givens in confronting it.
It’s a curious war that we are engaged in.
One that wants to produce words and languages
to open up laces and establish homes in the middle of the disaster.
A society that has exhausted all its vital possibilities
has good reason to judge as terrorist
those who experiment beyond it,
and to suspect what some call survival
as just an obscure conspiracy.
[Loud noise. A circle in the middle of the screen warps the image.]
[Protest. Picture of a bank w/ the graffiti ‘$=Swastika’]
[Screen warp appears by itself, a green glowing orb amidst a flashing green field, then red. Like a police light, alternating colors.]
[Protest. Same bank. Then pan right to a makeshift blockade still awash with tear gas. A bourgie older man in a polo gets out of his card and takes a picture.]
I was surprised by a lot of the gestures.
And then it was all about
the pure flight…
of a metal bar crashing through a window.
[Bank. ATM and revolving door smashes. Defaced by paint.]
That pure seductive noise.
[Another store front, completely torched. And so on.]
Or even, here and there,
the pure seduction of a fire.
The moment when a supermarket is opened up…
and (you) know you can start looting…
[Fresh fruits and veggies sitting in baskets, waiting to be plucked.]
It’s pretty funny. I remember…
[Protest. Charred barricades. People standing around.]
[Department store mannequins.]
the moment of smashing…
[Slick new nike shoe on display.]
and pillage of a supermarket.
[Store charred but still on fire. People watching and videotaping.]
What was really funny to see was a purely symbolic assault
on an apparently invincible cash register,
[Funny children’s toy in a window]
like striking the heart of capitalist circulation.
[Ultra-modern furniture in a display window.]
So there were these intensely charged moments.
[Strange sculpture, on display.]
that oriented the perceptions and the actions of each of us.
[Men’s fashion-suit in store window.]
[Protest. People running, including camera-person. Yelling. Horns. Noise]
[Finally stop in a crowd.]
[In a car, driving fast down a winding road with lush plants that quickly pass by.]
[Male, in French]
And you’re not really more free when in a riot.
But at least there’s this feeling
of a challenge that you pose to armed power:
I’m here. I’m in the city.
I’m free. Fuck you.
Not only are we ready to smash things,
[Movement stops. Black, then back to the road. Fades into the brightness of the sun.]
but we’re also expecting more of a battle, if it’s possible and useful.
A lot of my friends and I were really frustrated by this absence of combat.
But it’s not about fighting the cops just for the pleasure of it.
It’s just a frustration with the lack of conditions to confront the police,
in a way that would obviously be a shake-up to the present situation.
And we didn’t have those conditions.
Things were like that in the past, but not anymore, not in my lifetime.
[Protest. Tear gas can enters the screen. Stringed music.]
[Serif font, bit white letters, “Get Rid of Yourself”. Words break in the middle and chase to the four corners.]
[Music cycles – folk, rock, strings – like switching channels on a radio.]
[Various scenes of protest]
[Ends with some strange rock-fusion.]
[Slow pan of a forest. Music drops out, replaced by weird groaning and bells.]
[Protestor trying to rock a pole out of the cement. Gives up.]
[Back to forest.]
[Protestors break rocks from the street for projectiles.]
[Protestors drops from tree in city.]
[Protestor breaking through the concrete.]
[Forest. Pan stops with the sun peaking through the canopy.]
[Shot shifts to a cow rubbing up up against a tree in a wooded area.]
[Close shot of CS’s head, at an angle, leaning on her hand. She is looking down.]
The civil war should not be confused with it’s representation.
[Flips page of manuscript, wipes hair aside.]
[The pitch of her voice changes with different lines.]
Becoming attentive to the Tiqqun face[?] of things, of beings.
[high] To their eventness.
[high] To the stubborn silent edge of their own… [low] temporality?
[other voice] mmhmm
[low] Becoming attentive to the Tiqqun place of things, of being. To their eventness. To the stubborn and silent edge of their own temporality.
[normal] To open up spaces where the act we commit is no longer…
[high] …assignable to a given body.
[high] Where bodies rediscover the ability to perform a gesture.
[high] The all-knowing distribution of metropolitan dispositives.
[normal] Computers, cars, schools, cameras, telephones, hospitals, television, sports, cinema, etc. have stripped from them, by recognizing them, by immobilizing them, by making them turn and avoid, by making the body exist separately from the head.
To liberate space liberates us one hundred times more than any free space does.
How, now what.
[high] How to. Not the question of goals or objectives.
[normal] The question of tactics.
[low] A technical question. Not a problem. Problems are for the experts. The question of technique. Which becomes a question of the transmission of techniques.
How to. Attention to the how.
[even lower] Attention to the ethical difference.
[even lower still] The ethical element.
[high] How, not what. How to.
made with the support of
The French ministry of Culture
Délégation aux Arts Plastiques
( Image / Movement )
Colin De Land
American Fine Arts, Co.
big gap — couple minutes
[CS in living room. Sitting on floor, throwing head back on couch.]
[high voice] How, not what. How to.
[mashup of voices, but lines not previous included]
French + English about “being shot at with rockets. panic.” etc.
[quick flashing of images previous seen]
[Goes back to the motorbike scene. Motorbike drives off.]
a production by
made with the support of
The French ministry of Culture
Délégation aux Arts Plastiques
( Image / Movement )
Colin De Land
American Fine Arts, Co.
computer edition equipment
The Bohen Foundation (New York)
Cindy Rockwell (Paris)
additional assistance provided by
Surface to Air
made from 2001-2003