In June 2012 a group connected with Occupy LSX took over an empty Georgian house owned by artist Anish Kapoor who recently designed the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower for the Olympics.
The group, calling itself Bread and Circuses, a reference to its argument that the Olympic games are a means of distracting the public from pressing economic and social issues, announced the “liberation” of the part-derelict five-storey house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, one of central London’s most picturesque and expensive garden squares.*
On Friday 22 June 2012 Bread and Circuses opened the house to the general public and hosted a series of talks, poetry readings, performances, gigs and art exhibitions.
The event included a sneak preview of sketches a new series of portraits by Eran Tsafrir. The series, entitled Icons documents members of Occupy Justice, a group associated with Occupy who took over a disused historical court building – the Old Street Magistrates’ Court in the East End of London back in December 2011, where they held a series of public “trials of the 1%”.
Images from the Icons series will be available soon on www.erantsafrir.com. Further information will be posted here.
Icons is the latest in a series of works produced as part of diG.shaKe.riSeandblEEed,myloVe. – a hub for the production of projects questioning the potency of demonstration, revolt and sacrifice as an instrument for policy change in the UK. Previous projects included ascensIon. (a site-specific installation at the hidden Old Shoreditch Station Project Space, East London, December 2011 – January 2012) and viVa.voCe. (a sound installation at the ‘occupied’ Old Street Magistrates’ Court, East London, January 2012).
diG.shaKe.riSeandblEEed,myloVe. is created within the ambit of conteXtism – a manifesto driven initiative aimed at illuminating the interrelationships between art and the social, political, economic, religious, ethical and legal contexts in which it is made and displayed. In the belief that art has the power to unravel the complexity, intricacy and multi-dimensionality of prevailing human and social reality and the forces that shape it, diG.shaKe.riSeandblEEed,myloVe. serves as a trigger for debate, and for tackling questions about the wave of protests we are recently witnessing in the UK and elsewhere. Here are a few:
• The means – what works?
• State approved ‘peaceful demonstration’ – effective?
• Violence – justified? Necessary? When? What type?
• What does one know about issues one protests about, what one seeks to achieve when demonstrating, and the implications of one’s actions?
• Can a demonstration change government policy – what can we learn from the experience of the protests over student tuition fee rises?
• Do the unique political and legal systems we have here in the UK require a different approach to protest, different from that deployed by those who take to the streets in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, from that adopted by the “indignados” protest movement in Spain, the violent anti-austerity demonstrations in Greece, the ‘tents movement‘ in Israel, the student protest led by Camila Vallejo in Chile?
• Is Che and the romanticism of the Cuban Revolution still relevant?
• And art and artists?
• And does it all really matter?
* Guardian, “Anish Kapoor’s house in London occupied by protesters”, 22 June 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/jun/22/anish-kapoor-house-london-protesters.