Cultures of Resistance
Paperback / 110pp / £3.00 / No ISBN
In late 1999 an art exhibition with a difference took place at a squatted venue near Tower Bridge in London. Cultures of Resistance brought together political artists and performers for a week long celebration of collective creativity. The event was enjoyed so much that a second exhibition - Cultures of Persistence - took place in early January 2000.
This beautifully put together book describes itself as "a collection of the art and inspirations that went into the space at Tower Bridge Road. It also reaches broader into different aspects of underground culture which are all, at the end of the day, interconnected." I think this is why this book is so striking and so unusual. It reminds us of the oft forgotten creative side of our struggles, whilst situating it in a highly politicised context, blurring the boundaries between direct action and art.
I particularly liked the feature 'Poetic Terrorism' with its rallying cry of, "Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best PT is against the law but don't get caught. Art as crime. Crime as art."
The book commences with an explanation of how the exhibitions came about, and how the squatted venue became "a lively place in which to express ourselves." The rest of the book features contributions from the eclectic range of 'artists' whose works graced the walls (floors and ceiling) of 168 Tower Bridge Road.
From cartoons on the Terrorism Bill and silhouette paintings of crowd scenes, through to Sheela-Na-Gigs, poetry and montages - this book has it all! The wider political context is also included with articles on November 30th in Seattle and Mayday's guerrilla gardening, as well as a piece on the gentrification of Brixton - the backdrop to a number of contributions from the South London squatting scene.
The book also features some enlightening contributions from those politicising the subject of art. From the Molotov Organisation's banana attacks at galleries - under the slogan "Whatever it is... We're against it" - to a 'red dot' attack on an exhibition in Amsterdam. These people are going for the heart of the artistic establishment!
All in all this is a fascinating little book. I love the personalisation of the articles and the way you'd never guess what's on the next page.