Hamaika/16 & Wmo/r 41
Anonimous / Anonimo
DVDr Released 2012-29-02
Public Domain
Improvisación como convivencia,
como okupación


(cita:13:00, Puerta Hotel Arrate, Ego gain, 5, 20600 Eibar, Gipuzkoa)
L'improvisation comme squattage et vie en commun.


(Point de rencontre: 13.00, Puerta Hotel Arrate, Ego gain, 5, 20600 Eibar, Gipuzkoa
Improvisation as squatting and living together

(Meeting point: 13.00, Puerta Hotel Arrate, Ego gain, 5, 20600 Eibar, Gipuzkoa)

A group of diverse people calls a meeting, setting a place and a time. They meet. Each one brings the things that thinks are necessary. The opening-up to action is big. They talk and get to agreements, they discuss. They have to manage that shared time in the search of freedom. They take a place, make it theirs, precariously theirs. What is the potential of that meeting, of that time lived in common? They have to make decisions and try to create a collective space, not exempt from disapprovals. Apart from the physical space they might find (that could not be found), first there is a social space that has to be built to very basic levels. Many of the problems directly come from that. How long can they endure? What can they get to do? How much of the potential of the action lies in the own capacity of meeting and uncertainty? What would be left even if it may be the case that they didn’t do anything but being in an abnormal situation? How many situations can the global situation contain? What is that that will give its levels of intensity?

The meeting happens, the previous days and hours are disturbing. We don’t know if anyone will show up or if we’ll just be two people. Since the moment when we decide that, whatever happens, at least we’ll be two, we already are certain that “something” is going to happen. That moment of commitment is vital for us, it gives us strength. We got some e-mails from people who were interested, but no one definitely confirms. It doesn’t matter, we know something is going to happen since the moment we acquired that basic commitment. Some calls asking about how to get to the place we fixed just three days earlier. We know of a space where we could enter with little problems. The sense of uncertainty is big and that tension encourages us. The day comes, the time, and we finally gather five people. More than enough. Everything is recorded.

We approach to the factory but somebody has locked the window through which we’d planned to get in. We split and try to get in through one of the ground floors to which one can get down-climbing (the original access was in the roof to which one gets from a road). After struggling with the land (brambles, nails, heights) we get to enter. But it’s not easy, we’re seen from some nearby houses, and besides, not everyone could enter, it takes much agility. We join with the group again and discuss what to do. We decide to spend the afternoon in some isolated place while we think better and discuss options. We find a remote place under the A-8 motorway (Bilbao-Donosti), we eat something there, and all the time we face the threat of the uncertainty on whether we can finally get in the place before it gets dark. We start to believe that we might have to spend the night out in the open. In the evening we drop one of the five at the bus station. He has to come back home and can’t sleep with us. On the way, we buy a rope (to pass through a very inclined stretch more easily) and get something to eat. We come back to the factory.

While preparing the rope, nearby the entrance, we see in the distance some kids in another factory up in the flat roof making graffiti. We then decide to go as if they could to enter, we could it too. When we get to the gate it’s getting dark, and the kids just leave through a big elevated metal door from which one goes down through some stairs drilled to the wall. We ask them about the factory, they tell us the access is easy and that they usually come around. Quickly we enter and close the door. Its condition is really deplorable, all full of debris, broken glass, stones… All the factory windows are broken and there’s a constant draft. We explore it a bit and the first thing that worries us is the salubriousness. The air is dense despite of the ventilation, the atmosphere is very stuffy. We go up the stairs to the fourth floor and from there to the cab where in its flat roof the elevator motor is kept and gives access to the roof. There’s a door through which the air comes in, the final landing of the stairs is not that dirty as the rest of the space. We decide it’s the best place to at least spend the first night. We return to a shop to get brooms and candles. On the way we pick up another person who’s called us and joins in to spend the night. Then we do our best in cleaning the landing, of around five square meters. We leave the door opened to ventilate the air. Once designed and cleaned the space, we prepare a kind of cold dinner.

We have something to drink, start feeling more comfortable, more relaxed. Wine and conversation take us to a new situation like if they were music. Cars constantly passing through A-8, where there are fewer police checkpoints. The modernist architecture during francoist Spain is very peculiar as Franco wanted to adhere to just the practical and the functional from this type of architecture and ignore the progressive ideology of modernism. The factory’s strong structure reminds us of that type of modernist architecture and also of that great Basque Country that enjoyed glorious industrial moments. Eibar is a special place in this way. Known for its arms industry since C16, Eibar despite of its small size has been a key town for the development of the Basque Country’s culture and economy. In some moments, even beating Donostia-San Sebastián. Coming out if these industrious times, Eibar has an specific architecture that can combine housing with workshops within the same building.

It’s been a long time since globalization took care of moving this type of industrial production to other parts of the world where the standard of living is not that high, where labour workforce is cheaper and therefore produces bigger profits to capitalist investors. For a few years, in the Basque Country seemed that culture could replace industry and becoming an economical driving force. In this period of crisis it looks like culture doesn’t produce enough value needed, and that’s why the institutions promoting it are being dispensed with. We are in 2011 and the cultural institutions are suffering big cuts to a global scale. Especially in the UK and the Netherlands. But we also have here our own cases like the Montehermoso cultural centre in Vitoria which annual budget has been entirely removed. And not just the big institutions are suffering. This week the Kukutza gaztetxe in the district of Rekalde in Bilbao (other big industrial premises that became the biggest cultural and social squatted centre in the world) has been vacated and destroyed. ¿To whose interest is the Bilbao mayor Iñaki Azkuna doing a favour? Obviously, it’s a rhetoric question. We are living difficult times.

It’s clear, we need to search-create our own infrastructures, no matter how precarious they are. Many things can happen if we make them happen. We spend the little money as possible. We don’t need much help, just the Internet to promote the meeting and, once we are there, to ourselves. Our bodies. There’s no electricity but neither need we it. Mobile phones are running out of battery. Listening intensifies, we speak softly, little by little we’re making the place ours, our stage, our room, our bedroom. Shared times.

It’s completely dark already, we go out to the roof. It’s flooded and full of vegetation, in between there are some very narrowed concrete footbridges through which we walk in single file. We stand there, contemplating the town of Eibar in the distance and, closer, over our heads, the Bilbao-Donosti motorway with a constant and rhythmic traffic, like a background drone. We go to sleep. We spend the first night, which is the most intense of the two. Noises alternate with a brutal silence, two bats get in and can’t get out flying over us most of the night, like in the Goya’s engraving. We sleep at times, wake up with the sound of the wind moving things in the factory, we fall asleep deeply at times. All the time we have the feeling anyone can enter the factory as we did. We fantasize about a possible meeting with somebody at that time in that place. Which relationship would be established? Who’d be more afraid? Who’d feel more vulnerable?

Everything is recorded: Document of a concert? Field recording? A friend tells me about Derrida’s hauntology: something that is and is not, that haunt us like Marx’s communist spectre arising in the 19th century Europe. Like if the past collapses with the present when history no longer exists, when it’s the end of history. Some do field recordings in abandoned spaces trying to sonically represent this hauntology. Someone accidentally hits a five-litre bottle of water with the foot while sleeping, it falls four floors down resounding in all the building. We all wake up saying: There’s someone!

We don’t believe in ghosts and this is not a neutral recording, we are there and we are present. Sometimes we are aware we’re recording but other times we forget it. Hours and hours of audio-duration as noise. The interesting point of these conversations is that, on one hand, can be understood as any other improvisation, in which one produces a sound and another responds and, on the other, as a document of some specific interests within a very concrete moment where people say more and more: fuck neoliberalism!

At using these conversations as improvisation material, we make the fetishisisation of the sounds difficult as the conceptualization of language makes that one can’t deal with sounds as if they were only sonic and abstract materials. One can’t separate the meaning from its sonic qualities (unless he/she doesn’t understand anything). One must reflect beyond the aesthetic nature of the sound. Sounds, specially in this case, can’t be isolated in their context. We’re living a time where language and our capacity of thinking have become work tools to generate value: by recording our conversations, we later can dissect language to help us reconsider about our capacity of agency and the meaning of freedom nowadays. The communist spectre gets more and more notorious and some of us want to spread it at any cost. On the floor there are insurance records of all the workers with small radiographies of their lungs. How many workers might have suffered the consequences of working here for so many years?

The next morning some have itches on their skin, we still are worried about the salubriousness: we hysterically talk about scabies and lice. Early in the morning we hear noises from within the factory, someone has got in and hits things violently. Then we start to realise the factory has its own inhabitants, its social and discreet everyday life: a scrap merchant picking scrap, local kids entering to get materials to build a cabin, graffiti artists, etc. How do they relate with each other? How is their interaction in a place like this? The strength and intensity of the sounds are very present at all times, as much or more than in a concert you attend respectfully. With the difference that here the sounds don’t just sound, but also they point, inform, scare, relieve... because we feel like doing something it’s not supposed to do. Suddenly, we’ve turned into another inhabitant of that strange and marginal space where experiences get amplified. We keep on listening.

This concert or situation is post-industrial in many ways. More sounds-radical dehierarquization: if we’re interested in noise, why do we value a sound more than another? Sincerity and the private are becoming our instruments while constantly reflecting on what we do. Both raves and RRV (Basque Radical Rock) are clear references. At the same time, there are big differences. Although this is a temporarily squatted space, here there’s no division or distancing between music and living together: all we do produces sounds or makes us reflect about the sound, some more than others. We talk, move and constantly listen. Perhaps in some moments we’re more aware of the aesthetic features in each sound. However, in other moments, we listen in a practical way not paying that much attention to the aesthetic nature. As life goes on and we have needs, listening can’t get to satisfy for long periods of time (for instance, when we have to eat). The bodies getting more and more dirty. My worried mother asks me: How did you manage to go to the toilet? Very simple, you squat and answer the nature’s call. The digital recorder captures the sound of the anal sphincter throwing the excrement, which stays on the factory floor. No one cares. Something ordinary. A sound like any other, a shitty noise, a noise coming out my body. I don’t need instruments. I feel kind of bad for having recorded this: Isn’t it this sound too intimate? Too vulgar? Too obvious? I remember Spinoza: What can the body do? I also remember G.G Allin. Life as improvisation, the recorder capturing life. Is there any problem or contradiction with astheticizing this coexistence, for proposing it as an improvisation concert or for record it to make it public later? Maybe, but at least it helps us in reconsidering about the possibilities of the practice of improvisation beyond certain conventions: whether it’s the necessity of instruments or of a context like in a concert (with the economy and audience it requires). Here there’s no division between performer and audience. We talk about conceptual art.

I remember someone’s comment saying that it’d be more interesting if the artists transmitted their works directly through a concept everyone could get to understand at any moment beyond the materials and the abstraction of the forms that might be more difficult to understand by people with no specific knowledge on this type of practice (whether musical or artistic). May the idea overcome any realization. It wouldn’t be like in conceptual art, but someone would directly express the idea and the intentions with no need to produce them at all (so Lawrence Weiner wouldn’t have to produce the typographic texts, but simply describe them conceptually). But we’ve got bodies. Depending on where and how you experience the concept, it’ll make you reflect in many different ways. It’s not the same reading at home (in the private sphere, full of security and comfort) the words describing a concept, in an institution where most of the audience has certain degree of education and purchasing power (for this you don’t feel any kind of risk or danger), and doing it, for instance, in this strange situation in the light of a candle inside a half-destroyed building and the company of the bats. One is more susceptible and the body is more fragile, more vulnerable. We all need each other; respect and cordiality make us endure the tough conditions. We’re living something special and still don’t know what might happen. In this situation the concept itself could be interpreted through many different ways. Nobody sees us. As said earlier, perception gets amplified; everything gets more important, for good or for bad. Sometimes we are scared and other times we feel certain liberation. At any moment, this could have turned into total transgression: a huge orgy exploring our bodies in different ways respecting what we are used to. Anything could have happened without anybody knowing it. A possible secret between us. Who knows if we were Black Metal fans and disciples of Satan’s Beasts, we could’ve tortured an innocent victim or even between us. But no, we didn’t fuck. Here, we speak informally but with respect and affection.

In the morning another person arrives, we have some coffee and talk constantly. We talk of “sincerity” and “honesty”. She says she doesn’t understand what honesty is: one can be very sincere but without making great efforts to deconstruct the ideological mechanisms that reproduce certain power structures, those keeping the status quo. What is a display of freedom for someone, for another can be an act of oppression. If you haven’t suffered this oppression in you own body you can’t be aware of what can mean. You’re not aware of the power you execute by certain acts, words, movements, gestures, etc. You’re not aware of your privileged situation. The spontaneity, as a way to express that privilege which hasn’t been reflected on, becomes a power relation. Talking about all of this we get awareness of the existing problems around the alleged freedom improvisation and noise offer. We discuss about gender issues in relation to improvisation and noise. We agree that usually there’s little reflection on these issues. Who can afford making noise? Who can afford expressing his/her freedom? People who are in a privileged enough situation. A well known feminist explains how speaking aloud to everyone (and to no one) is “masculine”, while speaking from oneself to another, understanding each other, noticing other bodies is “feminine”. The first makes me think of a musician playing the computer on the stage giving the impression he/she doesn’t care about what’s happening around. Historically man has been the one who could express himself in the public sphere, while woman has done it in the private sphere. Man could be in solitude, meditating, contemplating and reflecting, whereas woman was responsible for reproduction, or as Leopoldina Fortunati would accurately say, producing the future workforce.

The opening-up of what we do is determined by the material and temporal conditions we’ve established. Within them we try a radical equality, both at a sonorous level and in terms of relationships. Everything at the same level: the sound of the cars or the broken glasses or the guitar or our speaking, as well as our relation with the space. Someone might mention (regarding what we’re doing) Relational Aesthetics, in which social relations and their context are taken as material for artistic production. There are several things that differ us from the relational aesthetics:

1) The lack of authorship.

2) We’re interested in noise: what doesn’t have an aesthetic value, something that might seem irrelevant to other people, something unwanted. We do appreciate it without making distinctions if it’s something creative or not.

3) Participation here doesn’t work as a bargaining chip, but as a need for coexistence. Once we got in the building we all are in the same relation respecting this particular situation, unlike if this happened in an institution where one might already have a position or even in a gaztetxe where there are people already used to the space and have already established certain ways to relate themselves with it.

In the afternoon the one who had arrived that morning is gone and so is the one who got here to sleep. But another four from Bilbao show up. When they arrive, we start a concert within a concert; we meet in a point of the factory where we “start” and we meet again in the same point after two hours. We freely walk through the factory which is huge and full of nooks and crannies. We break things, we hit, step on, rip, shout and finally we gather again. That feeling of intensity you usually feel in a concert is not present here. And not because it hasn’t been interesting, but because in the contrast with the total experience’s intensity of squatting this space in group, this moment of music becomes secondary. When the concert within a concert ends, another five people arrive who have found us on the Internet. We set up a kind of space with benches to stay and we all sit to talk. They’re architects so it’s an interesting opportunity to bring up many issues, questions and interests we’re dealing with. Particularly, problems on the habitability in an abandoned space. We talk about industrial architecture, the reutilization of spaces and how these affect us, about which are the minimum conditions to inhabit a space. It’s getting dark and we decide to go with them to get something to eat to a nearby bar.

There we keep on with the conversation, while we eat eggs with chorizo that taste better than ever. We also drink. The bar closes so we ask the waiter for a strong liqueur to bring it with us. He gets a bottle of homemade orujo. As we’ll see later is strong, very strong. We come back when it’s totally dark already and we’re a bit drunk. The first day it got dark when we were in the building, but this time it’s different as we come back from the bar when it’s already dark. So we find ourselves in a new situation, the access and the place are really dark, like in a horror movie. In the darkness we walk through the stretch left to our space, the sounds of the footsteps and the voices are much more intense now. The evening before going to sleep is interesting, more and more issues come out motivated by our stay in this space. The space fuels our words. We discuss on many things as individuality and the collective, social classes, gender (again), free software, 15-M and the social change, etc. While drinking, we get loose and tell private things, very private. At the end we fall asleep, this time much more deeply than the first night.

It’s like if the space was much ours already. As one of the architects that came in the afternoon told us, “if you can’t adapt the space to you, adapt yourself to the space”. And this adaptation lies in an obvious material level we’ve already taken care of (tiding up, cleaning, allocating things, etc.), but in this second night we feel like if we psychologically had stopped worrying about many things like dirt, noises, etc. As if we had made the space much more ours by understanding and controlling it in some psychological way. We sleep almost straightaway. The next morning we start to feel the tiredness, but the adaptation too. We have breakfast together while we keep on talking. It’s already fragmented but continuous the discussion we’re having at this point.

We start to create a common language. This is something going on while we collectively write this text. Time goes by, slowly at first but as we get used, it gets faster and faster. Until we get to a point where the shit annoys us. We get more and more familiar with the space but it also gets more claustrophobic. The morning runs out and when we see nobody else is coming we decide to go to the rocks, in Itziar, and having a bath in the sea. The contrast is brutal, suddenly, from dirty and the industrial atmosphere we’ve inhabited, to a natural environment, we go down through a fresh coppice, breathing that healthy clean air. We eat a sandwich on the beach and have a bath. It’s like a reward, almost like to be born again or, rather, like coming back to our bodies. The water is so salty but we find ourselves cleaner as ever. We discuss a bit about our impressions on these three days together; the problems, the possibilities for the future. The feeling of unity is strong, like the complicity of some musicians after improvising together, but multiplied by a hundred. We’ve changed the scenario but feel we take with us a special strength, a strength that can take us to lots of places we haven’t planned. We say goodbye, we part. There are no applauses.

A group of people, in September 2011
plants growing in flooded flat roofs
Flocks of shirtless children and dirty hands
As in William S. Burroughs’s interzone
they rip the remains of industrial guts
to build cabins to scale 2:1

or just a place to go.
when we used to play hooky
we stole Ducados cigarette packs from the workers
and found hidden porn mags with semen stains.
we also used the factory to keep our sprays
we grafftied and invoked spells on the walls
marking mapping the invisibly unmappable
leaving signs for others like you
influencing on future facts
We walk through the roof in single file
concrete border leading to a
high voltage tower, food for scrap merchant gipsies
the faded sign of Danger still hangs
from the wire mesh
later I’ll use this place
to evacuate my intestines

the second impression emerged
from these threads of nothing
the abject had gone off our minds
a certain hidden beauty and a bat
we had really turned into
pieces of furniture

strange chimneys, inexplicable tubes,
their function escapes us and no longer exists
the world of the imaginary invades its new flesh
as an architectural space just coming up from Borges’s mind
with no mediations, direct, real,
with the intensity of the expanded senses

insect sounds, exuberance
a continuous drone coming out the air motorway iron patriarch of the landscape
Over the town of Eibar
as in Blade-Runner or in a Ballard’s novel
in the other side a baserri
seems to challenge it, impressive
is already part of the mountain
its distinguished material in the shape
of the cut up stones is no longer perceived
and sinks its roots in the tectonic flow
cows grazing and playing involuntary melodies
of sophisticated algorithms, permuting their wandering
to the rhythm of the magnetic variations
of those guts themselves
We’ve always been told not to flood roofs
But if we did it, that we fill them with fishes
So nothingness can’t grow and bushes emerge from the mud
And at night everything turns into Tarkovski’s “zone” only in Eibar they flood the factories’ roofs insulating material saving oil lakes and wars in Libya gipsies also told us they were the only ones having the keys

Vivid, immanent, poetically meagre architecture,
that doesn’t appear in the Technocasa green catalogue
no mortgage, no cadastre, no shit
a place to conspire and read comics

the first impression upon waking up was the image
of an ex-piece of furniture covered in layers of dust, insect nests,
nothingness and time covered everything with heinous magic
I had to get out of there, find a fountain and wash myself
feeling human and clear again

and made bonfires, that for fuel threw hundreds of radiographies
of the old workers’ lungs, they even had doctors and
regular checkups, they all died for natural causes at 66
cutting public expending, now we’re artists we’ll use
their radiographies as the artwork for the record Improkup! 40 hours in the zone
a ‘big brother’ with zombies and the smell of coffee and lulas
Hamaika URL (spanish and french versions TXT) click me
Wmo/r URL