Squat Culture

“Titling anthologies or exhibitions, especially those that range over contested territory, is a tricky business. When settling on Goodbye to London: Radical Art & Politics in the ’70s editor Astrid Proll must have felt that with this she had a title that straightforwardly registered the balance between timely social history and personal recollection that the texts in the book would strike. As it turns out the book tends towards nostalgia, as indicated by the first part of the title, and veers away from satisfactory survey, as promised by the second. Questions about the relationship between the artistic practices of then and now; the legacy of political and social movements of the decade, or the relation of artistic practices to these movements; and the aesthetic consequences of neoliberal policies, all go unanswered… Despite recent exhibitions in London such as The Secret Public: Last Days of the British Underground 1978-1988 at the ICA and Panic Attack: Art in the Punk Years at the Barbican (both, 2007), the history of British art in the 70s is still in some sense to be written, and art’s brush with politics at this time, still little understood.”


While researching the Dan Kidner, the curator of The Inoperative Community at the Raven Row, I stumbled upon some of his writing. The above link is a review he wrote of the book “Goodbye to London” edited by Astrid Proll. The photo is what really got to me somehow. Although according to Kidner the book was a flop, the idea of squats as “hotbeds of political activism, art and alternative lifestyles” really resonates with me. Although I don’t always agree or feel that the most radical things are happening in the communities in which I have moved, I do feel a motion and an agency that has drawn me in from the beginning.

I am very curious about understanding the Left today and the journey it has taken. What is radical?

The article linked below was referred to by Zizek in one of his youtube lectures I watched recently. I am hoping I will have the time and patience to go through it more deeply then a quick skim…

By ‘left’ I mean a root-and-branch opposition to capitalism. But such an opposition has nothing to gain, I shall argue, from a series of overweening and fantastical predictions about capitalism’s coming to an end. Roots and branches are things in the present. The deeper a political movement’s spadework, the more complete its focus on the here and now. No doubt there is an alternative to the present order of things. Yet nothing follows from this—nothing deserving the name political. Left politics is immobilized, it seems to me, at the level of theory and therefore of practice, by the idea that it should spend its time turning over the entrails of the present for signs of catastrophe and salvation. Better an infinite irony at prescrai and maruflicchio—a peasant irony, with an earned contempt for futurity—than a politics premised, yet again, on some terracotta multitude waiting to march out of the emperor’s tomb.

In relation to my project the recordings I have been making. I am interested in Squats for the inside outside dynamic of them. The societal view that forms and ideas of interior and exterior. I suppose it is similar with any underground/subculture though squatting focuses on the physical day to day more than any kind of music or fashion or dogma which is the focus of many subcultures.

Squat Culture

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