(PART 6) BRADFORD's ECO-PETERLOO: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BILL POSTERS
OPPOSING OPERATION ECOCIDE ORCHESTRATED BY BRADFORD CITY COUNCIL/SUSTRANS AND OFFICIAL ECO'S DURING 2013-14.....
The above stickers were put up all over Shipley, especially the market place adjacent to the destroyed terrain vague arena as well as Bradford's university campus. Most (it seems) were signed by the Calderdale Injuns, the Calderdale Squaws, Chief Last Night, General Knockabout of the Ludd Tribe, etc.
"IF DESTRUCTIVE GROWTH REQUIRED AN ENVIRONMENTAL DISGUISE, DESTRUCTION WOULD HAVE TO BE PRESENTED AS THE ENVIRONMENTALIST ACT PAR EXCELLENCE "(MIGUEL AMOROS)
Miguel Amoros in Spain has recently set up a kind of project around various anti developmental perspectives perhaps helping make some kind of common cause with others through increasing contact and collectivity. Consequently a Barcelona periodical, Argelaga: An Anti-Developmentalist Libertarian Journal, has come into existence based on "an atmosphere of dissidence and desertion in which the historical subject, which is nothing but the anti-capitalist community, can be constituted and consolidated" (Argelaga no. 1) in a struggle that is not just rural but aimed also at "a return to the city, that is, to the self-governed and de-capitalized space where liberty and history originated" (Argelaga no. 2).
PS. Then within a couple of months along with so much else, the slogans were jet sprayed off the wall.....
Below: And yet the more innocuous, more artistic tag was allowed to survive
Below: The yellow square was initially rather crudely painted up alongside a Sustrans pathway on the well used Leeds/Liverpool Canal tow path. Obviously its intent was to awaken the vague green sympathies of regular walkers and cyclists.
Within days the crudely executed comments were painted out (fig 2) and a lot of stickers were torn down. Obviously they had really struck home, official ecos desperate to get rid of our unseemly comments and Shakespeare's quip, "The truth must be silent, go to your considerate stone" as accurate as 400 years go. Immediately, (it seems) newer, more polished versions of the same comments were reinstated!!! Interestingly this happened more or less on the same day a priceless Banksy was 'discovered' on a Cheltenham wall whereby the council then rushed-in to save the piece from "vandalism" (would you believe) eager to preserve ART AND MONEY even though the piece was a discreet comment on the nearby GCHQ surveillance headquarters. As far as the Bradford pieces were concerned some official body rushed in to obliterate all comments while saving the visual outlines of the life history of the Marbled White butterfly! Nowadays, it would seem, all banal purely visual and empty tags and pieces are officially venerated whilst all subversive slogans, no matter how innocuous, are instantly painted out. You couldn't make it up ...........
Below: Interestingly enough Bradford Council does possess a Banksy stencilled on the metal door of a utilities cupboard on Leeds Rd and also a place where stickers referring to the local ecocide were quickly torn off. It's laughable, because more to the point, a dumb Bradford officialdom doesn't even know they've got a Banksy otherwise they would have gotten their grubby little mittens on the piece years ago!!!!!
The local Green party had been contacted about the eco destruction taken part in the area but they never even bothered to reply. Worse, they then commented on local Leeds radio (April 2014) that it was kind of necessary to cut down a splendid tree lined street in Victorian Saltaire; a performance so pusillanimous that even the radio commentator was exasperated..........
Obviously it's necessary to generalise subversive comments. The recent destruction of these rich sites of brownfield biodiversity were also terrain vagues increasingly utilised for all kinds of different activities including living in human shelters, though often cleverly disguised. They had become sites of the new occupation movement which briefly gained a profile throughout the last year of general contestation in 2011. For authority this form of stealth occupation must never happen again. Let's hope it does.......
The above comments were placed over the now still centre of utter devastation in Briggate. But it wasn't long before Bradford Council / Sustrans – or rather their volunteers - painted them out? See photos below) After all, nothing ever happened.....there was no ECOCIDE!
Although bats are protected species and flew in abundance in Briggate they also had to be destroyed. After all this was a nasty site of industrial dereliction and therefore only a nasty nature could exist here; one that must be purged for its own on-going health........ And the slogan above was almost immediately painted out. We complained as per usual but this time to the West Yorks Bat Group but again as perusual, we received no reply. Nothing to hide, of course, as this was simply the correct procedure countering wanton vandalism...... However, despite the gruesome purge, bats can still be seen here if anyone cares to take a look at dusk.
Below: The beginning of a critique of the ideology of nature reserves......
Above: A green notice board in Buck Wood
Below: Buck Wood bin
Below: All to be quickly abolished, jet sprayed out by the Friends of Buck Wood......
The professionals deciding that all cutting edge critique to be suppressed forever.........
Below: Elsewhere and a few concrete blocks came in handy...it seems........
Below: Here resides another wild nature site gutted by Bradford Council. Poster by Chief Last Night (Calderdale)
Below: Wild the Cities
All these slogans it seems were aimed at creating and highlighting a form of egalitarian nature intervention – a wilding - that supercedes the general passive recording proclivities of the ubiquitous so-called nature conservation groups hemmed in by officialdom, spineless to the core. Wilding is a practise anybody can participate in, aged from 8 to 80, from so-called healthy to the paraplegic, a practice also utterly democratic in character which can begin on your own doorstep...if you've still got a doorstep left.
Above: Paraphrase of a statement made by Robert Kurz, the German value-ist just before he died in 2012. Nonetheless the council, or some related body in their sublime wisdom found fit to jet house out this interesting theses while retaining all the many banal tags and pieces in the immediate vicinity....
Below: Only then to be disappeared along with comment by the 1840's American writer, proto environmental anarchist and Transcendalist, Henry David Thoreau.
Below: Incensed that some philistine 'august' body had gotten ridden of most of the wall slogans on the Briggate site which pointed out the terrible ecocide that had taken place, a tableau – a war grave – to the disappeared and the dead was (it seems) partially erected. A mock graveyard was made, each grave to commemorate in big letters each species that had been slaughtered on this 2014 eco battlefield. Their names will liveth forever and there also was to be a grave to the unknown species. These species included The Common Blue, the Small Tortoishell, The Brown Argus, The Purple Hairstreak, the White Letter Hairstreak, the Brimstone, the Dingy Skipper, the Brimstone, the Marbled White, the Red Underwing, the Tawny Owl, The Green Woodpecker, the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, the Common Buzzard, the Kingfisher, the Goosander and so on. Interestingly, having only completed half the graveyard, undead local, young Bradford Goths immediately found the site and celebrated its existence while doing bike wheelies downing bottles of cheap lambrusco and putting their own inimical markers on some of the gravestones. Those who engaged in this wanton vandalism laughed with glee; having finally gotten through to some people!!
Above: Gravestones and gravestones with barbed wire
Below: Never Dead Goths intervention
Below: The destruction of a big part of the Briggate bat roost was skilfully played with bringing in the figure of Dracula much again to the delight of the local Goths........... And the fangs were dripping with red blood and Drac's eyes were bloodshot. .......Bradford ecos, again as is their wont in relation to sites of industrial dereliction, had declared NO bats bred here as did the local Bat Protection Society, such is their prejudice against what they regard as visual eyesores...........Below a close-up of a Never Dead goth grave.
Below: Bats through steel wire
After THE BATS .........six days later.......... (as above) NO BATS and below, gravestones jet sprayed out (some authoritative body had decided yet again, that enough was enough!) Yet again GUILT writ large.......
Postscript: What to make of the rise and rise of tags and pieces in general?
Since 2011 tags and pieces painted on walls, doors utility installations, etc. have massively increased everywhere in a collapsing UK plc after something of a lacunae during that year of open protest. What does this mean within the context of a country travelling socially backward at a rate of knots? On the level of surface appearances tags and pieces are simple, cartoonish, lightweight decoration with hardly a glance in the direction of subversive, enlightened comment which marked the late 1960s and early 1970s. Indeed, recently we were asked to contribute to George Stewart Lockhart's update and republishing of what has became an iconic book from that period by Roger Perry with an introduction by blues shouter, George Melly. Called The Writing on the Wall, this book is a record of graffiti largely found in and around London's Notting Hill prior to ultra gentrification. Basically we were asked just who did what and were able to supply a lot of answers as we also supplied the publishers with some of the above mentioned material. Alas, such enlightened graffiti has for decades (it seems) been largely eclipsed but for how long?
But doesn't the last sentence miss the point? Isn't today's clandestine tags and pieces phenomenon - much influenced by American shop window wildstyle graphics - riven with internal conflict often moving in many directions at once? Isn't it both artistically aspirational melded together with a strong basic undertow in the UK of proud, uncompromising social apartheid where all that matters is guts and two fingers up to authority with prison around the corner rather than entertainment for a despised art gallery coterie full of middle class wankers? Isn't 'the high', the aggressive act in itself armed with tins of spray paint (often ripped off) all that matters; a form of sabotage the bigger the better simply to more or less nihilistically fuck things up even more?
There truly does seem to be a distinction between this attitude and those aspirants flitting from wall to wall on the make ever ready to be selected for an art exhibition or, if not that, to be officially hired by the local council for some lousy frolic of a hoarding or a big shot company with an eye permanently on the money markets. And Brandalism uneasily all over the place fitting-in somewhere in-between as J.C. Decaux hoardings are cracked and new poster hoardings are inserted as Harrods becomes Horrids, etc. care of Penny Rimbaud and Steve Ignorant, et al.....which in its turn then re-influences mainstream advertising?
It seems that among the rank 'n' file base of the subterranean tag and piece community, the path of a Banksy (all the way to the bank) is despised not because the punters wouldn't like to get their hand on a mass of spondoolies but the way how it's done and the treachery against comrades in (spray can) arms which is involved; in short what boils down to a kind of un-worked out anti art aggression. Yep, a tag is to get known alright but in the sense of blackening (or reddening) the eye of authority, to really get under their skins, to provoke the law with the aim of becoming a martyr for the cause of graffiti rebellion – the act itself meaning so much more than any cornball visual statement. And isn't Banksy pure sell-out; a guy who can make something of an intelligent, amusing comment but only finally for the amusement of the super-rich of Euro / America especially the Hollywood Hills? Moreover, ever ready to viciously rubbish his tags and pieces comrades like his well known rubbishing of Fisto.
Ah yes, Fisto from South and West Yorkshire, periodically in and out of jail since his first holiday location in Her Majesty's Toilet in 1995 for knocking out big pieces usually on the side of bridge pilotis on the M1 near Sheffield and done with such sheer cheek right next to the cars endlessly whizzing by during the night. (Fisto a tag in itself alluding (perhaps) to the red – and black – fist of the miners as well as what gives you a good smack in the gob). For Fisto it was as if the miners' strike never ended, or perhaps needed to be avenged - Fisto living in Barnsley at the centre of the uprising was 9 to 11 years old during the great strike - outlining his feelings in his mid twenties with something like a radical miner's take, like say John Dennis's almost intuitive appreciation of spontaneous situationist inspired comment. Consider the following words Fisto beautifully put to paper (and masonry) many moons ago: "This is a blind society. Every day, everywhere we go we are bombarded with these big adverts making money selling lies. And people believe them. They're brain washed even if they say they are not. But when someone is individual or real, they think it's some big crime. I don't feel part of this system or society." And then a little later on a wall in Sheffield, Fisto was to write "In a society based on image, greed and selfishness we are the few who have broken the chains by exposing our art by any means necessary"...... (OK we forgive him for being a bit lax with the term 'art')
Then and now: Fisto in his forties but still unbending, morphing recently into Bloodaxe. Simply heavy metal but so much more, a tag remembering (again perhaps) the blood spilt by his relentless persecutors, Sheffield Council at the battle of Orgreave and even more so at Hillsborough football ground a few years later as the bodies endlessly piled up.... And the bureaucrats have still gotten away Scot-free. In response Bloodaxe pieces have become ever more gigantic, ever more intrepid, ever more in your face, the M1 giving way to the precipice-like walls on the railway gorge approaching Sheffield Midland stn, Fisto's latest trial and jail sentence becoming an instant social media hit as this "paranoid schizophrenic" – according to a doctor's report was forced again to wear Leadbelly's "ball and chain".... And in the weeks that have followed "Free Fisto" (or Fistes and Fista) pieces appearing everywhere throughout our old childhood stomping ground in South and West Yorkshire, the man an inspirational legend for refusing to ever compromise standing alongside Frem in Leeds and the Infamous Runch in London, the latter having recently extended his range all the way to Billericay in deepest Essex...and so the show goes on and on.....
Below: Further Stickers
“Birds and trees and flowers without a name / When lawless law’s enclosure came” (John Clare)
Love is Dead: Eros Reborn through Wilding…
Create the New Commons of Urban & Industrial Dereliction. Every Commoner Welcome
Eros through Wilding
City Wilding: Every Wild Child Welcome
Suicide Capitalism = Natures’ Apocalypse
Art is Dead: No to Wilding Aesthetics
Down with Horticulture Up with Wilding
Network Rail Roundup Tortures Wildlife
Horticulture is Natures’ Capitalism
Horticulture and Suicide Capitalism = Extinction
Unofficial Nature / Unofficial Strikes TOGETHER
Horticulture and Unofficial Nature are at War.
Horticulture and Horticulture and
Suicide Capitalism Suicide Capitalism
= EXTINCTION = EXTINCTION