I managed to miss the Parade Of Defiance – organised by the Occupy Movement – last Saturday in Cork. It was in opposition to the upcoming budget which was announced, in two parts, by the Irish Government this week. Inevitably it was a budget that will only see more hardship being forced on people than ever before, an austerity budget that will burden the people of this country with more inequality, poverty and pain. And there are five more to come
What made this march different, even if in a subtle way, was the role played by Artlink, a Cork based Community Arts Organisation, who brought a sense of creativity, artistic expression and colour to the protest as it winded itself through the City of Cork. I think this was a new departure, it was significant, a positive move that will ultimately bring the Occupy movement beyond its present state into one of creativity. It is a much needed step. For the movement to survive it is not enough to be physically present on our streets – although their physical presence, as a manifestation of our frustrations, is incredibly important – it needs to be creative, it needs to be an artistic means of protest, a more creative dynamic, not unlike the philosophy of protest that the Zapatistas in Chiapas have undertaken over the years. As John Holloway re-iterated over and over again in his fine book ‘Crack Capitalism’ the old strategies of protest must be left behind. New ideas, new means of artistic revolt must rise up, take their place if we are to truly create a new world that is more equal and democratic; If we are to crack the frozen ice of capitalism that lies above our everyday existence.
“Imagine a sheet of ice covering a dark lake of possibility. We scream ‘NO’ so loud that the ice begins to crack. What is it that is uncovered? What is that dark liquid that (sometimes, not always) slowly or quickly bubbles up through the crack? We shall call it dignity…..Cracks are explorations – creations of a world that does not yet exist. We walk over the threshold into a counter – world in which exploration is indistinguishable from creation: the only paths are those we make by walking”
John Holloway from Crack Capitalism
Last week I was talking about this very subject with someone in the arts community I have much respect for. He had come to the same conclusion. We both agreed that rehashing old forms of protest was a waste of time, energy, money, space. We live in an age of oversaturation by the media, we are all unconsciously educated in form, context, content, technology and using well worn templates to get the message out is pointless. No one looks, reads, sees, hears, takes any notice of them anymore. The forms of protest have to change, and have been changing with the emergence of the worldwide occupy movement, however this change in form must continue to be a creative one, a process of artistic intervention, of imagination, of dreaming. We must not lull in stasis, we must capture the idea and express it in our most life affirming way. We must use our ingenuity, collective power of imagination to reach out, shout out and bring the old order down.
For change to come we must be creative. It has always been so. History is on our side
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