BORDER CAMP // STRASBOURG
In the Alsatian city along the German-French border, there are still traces today that the city has changed its nationality five times in the last 500 years. However, the European noborder network, which announced the current border camp in Strasbourg, has something else in mind: the virtualized borders in and around the fortress Europe, which are erected everywhere, independent of territories, where state officials have access to databases and human beings are registered as data sets. The central unit of the SIS (Schengen Information System) has been located in Strasbourg since its implementation in 1991. Data about immigrants is collected there, which has a central function in granting visas and in asylum processes.
At least since the massive protests against economic globalization, data about demonstrators and critics has also been integrated. Calling attention to these kinds of information technology surveillance mechanisms, confronting virtualized borders and developing political forms of action in dealing with them, are the objectives of the border camp in Strasbourg. In Strasbourg as at other camps, the point is again to demand freedom of movement and disruptively intervene in the deportation machinery.
<<during an anti-racist demonstration in woomera/australia in march 2002, migrants succeeded in breaking through the fences of the detainment camp and escaping>>
The idea of border camps has been present in Europe since 1998 in texts, pictures, discussions and actions. With the increased harmonization of asylum and immigration policies and massive repressions against migrants and refugees, documented in Austria by the death of Marcus Omofuma, the necessity of a European anti-racism network has become obvious. The European noborder network emerged during protests against the EU migration summit in Tampere in 1999 from the desire to spread discussions, expand one's own perspective and share audacious resistive ideas with others.
The actions were expanded and the ideas spread. This resulted last summer in a border camp chain, which started in Tarifa in southern Spain (Spain-Africa) and continued through Krykni (Poland-Ukraine), Lendava (Slovenia) and the internal border at the Frankfurt airport (Germany), all the way to the borderhack in Tijuana (Mexico) and the actions against the refugee camp in Woomera (Australia). Permanently crossing borders, the noborderTOUR connected border camps with other sites of resistance, including Genoa and Salzburg, during a six-week tour. Connections were also made in virtual space: the "borderstream" on July 7 visualized three border camps that took place simultaneously as overlapping interventions, making pictures and moods from other actions during the year accessible at the same time. Strasbourg 2002 is now the first event organized by the entire noborder network as a joint action with anti-racist social movements, groups and individuals from 15 different countries.
<<during the camp in tarifa (southern spain), a ship landed on the coast, in which migrants were hiding to evade spanish immigration authorities. because of the camp, the many people who were present there, and a local organization that openly supports travel for people without papers, it was possible to help many of the arriving migrants to travel on to the interior of the country and avoid police controls.>>
"SIS is a d.sec*.
Every d.sec is a target.
We will destroy each d.sec."
The title (d.sec - database systems to enforce control) refers to the problem that techies, migrants, hackers, activists, artists and others will tackle intensively. At the same time, they will develop forms of intervention that can be opposed to the d.sec's, the database systems. During the border camp, d.sec is a thematic strand forming a framework for probing the possibilities of mutual networking and transforming them into creative and pleasurable actions.
Other essential themes are cyberfeminsm, reclaiming the body, new identities in a networked world, and the expansion of free communication, as well as the practical transfer of know-how, discussions revolving around the social significance of free software and critically questioning our own use of technologies: websites, e-mail, IT: what for?
<<in may 2002, during a demonstration against a deportation prison in Switzerland, one prisoner was freed. The iron bars were cut through with a saw and the man was able to escape through the window of the cell into freedom.>>
The VolxTheaterKarawane will set up a noborderZone/Medialounge in the city center of Strasbourg. Live video and radio streams and up-to-date reports in different languages will provide information about Strasbourg, the SIS, and actions in and around the camp via Internet, in close collaboration with independent radios in Europe and ptc-TV. The lounge is open to visitors, tourists, activists. Workshops and theater practices involving people moving across borders and working along electronic and physical lines of separation. The VolxTheaterKarawane will provide manifold articulations against instruments of control and repression and the European institutions and their interests.
hack the street be pink and silver on the net
When the WEF met in the summer of 2000 in the small Swiss city of Davos, hackers broke into the central computer of the preparations organization. They lifted data from leaders in economics and heads of state and published it on the Internet. In a statement, they used their action to protest against constantly increasing controls along the borders and restrictions on freedom of travel. They posed a direct connection between the passing on of personal data, control mechanisms and a purely economic globalization that considers it necessary to increasingly restrict the movements of people, of bodies, of free information and communication at the same time.
In August 2001, a columnist wrote in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine that the real "friends of globalization" were currently encamped at the Frankfurt airport. The journalist saw one of the outstanding opponents of a global network in George Bush. During the protests in Seattle there were already many proponents, who spoke out against globalization. The ambiguity of this approach and the capacity of its content for retorsion ultimately led to significantly broadening the discourse. Themes like migration, racist developments and a newly virulent anti-Semitism became central components of the discussions revolving around the concept of globalization. In Genoa, during the protests against the G8, 70000 demonstrators addressed the theme of migration, creating a direct link between continuing exploitation, thinking in a market logic, and the constant restriction of freedom of movement and travel. As with the protests in Genoa, our own media will produce a counter-public sphere in Strasbourg as well, an essential component of resistance against capitalism and the apparatuses of repression.
As with Borderstream in Genoa and Brussels, Internet campaigns such as the deportation alliance, the online demo against Lufthansa, or the data liberation action in Davos, technologies can serve as platforms or as loudspeakers for political articulations. At the same time, though, as in the case of the SIS, they are also used for the complete control and surveillance of people. Is there a contradiction in this? What impact does the transformation of communication have in other, virtual spaces? Are the Internet and the cyborg the end of the social sphere or the beginning of a new society (volxbad deklaration - www.make-world.org), or perhaps only a brief moment in a historical development that will already be completely obsolete tomorrow?
d.sec will test these possibilities in Strasbourg. Hack the system, as an empty phrase, as a risky game, as an intervention in public and virtual spaces, as a workshop, discursive practice, or as a theatrical production. The caravan goes on ...
Translated by Aileen Derieg. First appeared online in www.republicart.net in August, 2002.
about Harald Kuemmer >>