performance • installation • digital creation
these people are different from us
From Brexit to face-cover laws to border-walls new utopias proclaimed in the voice of populist slogan ‘make great again’, ‘bring back our jobs, our country, our sovereignty’, ‘get out of my country’… have become mainstream. Voices that grow ever more virulent with successive electoral circles. Utopias of pure homogenous nation secured by supremacist language, ideology, culture, religion, technology and economy; free of the enemy, the different other.
‘these people are different from us, free our country of thieves, murderers, terrorists, foreigners irreconcilable with our civilisation, very bad people who come here but don’t speak our language, who steal our jobs, rape our women, kill our people…’
In utopia difference provokes antagonism, hate. Rather than an enriching source of multiplicity, progress and evolution difference is experienced as a menacing threat that undermines society; a source of conflict, fear and insecurity.
no tear gas no demo can nation survive difference
Nation presupposes mutual consciousness of shared values, aspirations and dreams (cultural, spiritual, ideologic, philosophic…) upon which social, religious, political and economic ideals are built.
Are the the boundaries of such nation fixed, permanent and rigid. Must they be sacred and untouchable monuments of ethnic, racial and archaic colonial brutalities - questioning of which is 'punishable with death by hanging'. Can they be built on the fluid architecture of social relationships; variable, porous, organic, dynamic…
Can nation, state & democracy in the 21century survive differences of class, ethnicity, religion & race. Have they become instruments of personal gratification for the political and capital elite, perpetuating exclusion and inequality while authentifying repression & autocratic dictatorship.
In reaction to perceived marginalisation and historic injustice calls for secession have gained traction in Kenya. Between the nulled election of August and the repeat election of October 2017 the opposition coalition embarked on a series of countrywide protests and public demonstrations leading to the formation of a national resistance movement to carry out protest and civil disobedience and county assemblies to exercise direct representation by the people.
In the face of tear gas and water cannon, pitted against police bullets and counter-protest protesters - ethnic militia, 'Nairobi business community', disguised as security agents, battle hardened ‘tear gas addicted’ protesters took to the streets in rituals of song, dance and other acts of resistance including smearing a polling station with excrement ‘shithole democracy’, boycotting elections ‘I’d rather die than vote’ or even the demonstrations themselves - ’No tear gas, no demo’ - if police ran out of tear gas that is ’paid for with our tax money’. ‘The quality of a demonstration is judged by the quantity of its tear gas’.
Using witness accounts as well as text, images and video clips recuperated from social media blogs and diverse online sources ‘No Tear Gas No Demo’ delves into the subculture of political slogans, social narratives and legal discourses sorrounding the 8 august elections. It appropriates the language & body posture of protest and resistance; from legal battles in court, heated debate in the media and public space to running street battles pitting constitution quoting protesters, anti-riot police and counter-protesters
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