Today I'm leaving Heilbronn after a fun week (went to the Bodensee, Bad Wimpfen, hung out at a local festival here in Heilbronn, and went to ZKM) in Baden-Wurtemburg with Allan and Jeannette, and heading up to Kassel, to spend a couple days looking at Documenta. Then Saturday it's back to Frankfurt to catch my flight home! I probably won't have time or connectivity to blog before that, so, I'll catch up once I'm back in Tucson.
I'm back in Germany, having travelled by train from Praha 2 days ago to Heilbronn, in the southern "land" of Baden-Wurttemburg (Germany is divided into 16 "lands," like states).
My brother and his wife live here and I'm staying with them for a week. Then my last 2 days in Europe will be spent at the huge contemporary art show called Documenta, which happens in Kassel only every 5 years.
This photo is of me up in the really tall, soviet-designed tower that looms over much of Prague. I uploaded it and many more to my Flickr account yesterday and today. And yet these are only a fraction of all the photos i've taken on this trip. To organize and sort them all it will be a big job that will have to wait till I'm back home. But these that are up now will at least be a very basic overview. Enjoy.
Yesterday I travelled via train from Berlin to Praha, Czech Republic (Praha is how they call Prague in Czech, and German for that matter. I'm told that the pronuciation of "h" used to sound like "g" in Czech, that's how the discrepency happened). The train ride was pleasant, the tracks following the course of the Elbe River for much of the way so the view was pretty. The border controls were rather thorough for Europe, I thought, with police on the train looking very carefully at all the stamps in my passport. What were they looking for? Perhaps if I'd ever been to Transniestria or Chechnya they would have taken me to an empty car to interrogate me? hmm.
Anway, I'm a bit culture-shocked. Prague is a very old and busy little capitol city. Lots of things are not "westernized" and "modernized" still here, whereas Berlin feels much more converted over to western, capitalized, american ways and looks (this is not a complaint, just an explanation for why it feels stranger here). The language is also really really different. But I'm staying with my friend, fellow Iowan, and fellow cultural recycler Lloyd Dunn, of The Tape-beatles, and he's orienting me pretty well.
Right now I'm sitting in Skolska 28, a small gallery in central Praha which is going to host a screening of my video work on this coming Monday. I'll be showing a mix of artist and activistic pieces, including excerpts from my Juarez film.
I should go now, get offline and see some more of this city. I think I'll head up to Pražský hrad - Prague Castle - this afternoon.
Here's another video I edited here in Rostock from footage shot at the G8 protests. This one is just sort of an impressionaistic glance at the blockades on Wednesday.
As before you can also download via bittorrent from v2v.cc.
Tonight is my last night in Rostock. There's a huge "finissage", a closing party for the Art Goes Heiligendamm exhibit. I've had a tad too much wine and I'm totally high on a video piece co-screenwritten by Geert Lovink called One World. It's basically all animated text with very simple animation graphics all about globalization and modern info-culture. So fucking cool.
Anyway, tommorrow back to the metropolis, Berlin.
Intrepid video journo-star Esteban Caliente was seen reporting from the road blockades around Heiligendamm yesteday:
You can also download this in ogg theora format via peer-to-peer networks (yeah, I know, what a pain in the ass, but y'know, it's ideologically great, right? like using Linux and clunky open source media tools... suspira...) from v2v.cc.
Ok, I'm off now to a big speech by Vandana Shiva, a closing keynote of the Alternative G8 Summit.
Well, for the first time in 5 days it's really nice and warm and sunny here by the Baltic Sea, and various groups are by now at blockade points by the thousands around Heiligendamm, trying to stop the symbolic personal representatives of world power from getting to meet each other.
But I slept in, because I was up late encoding and uploading video and hanging out with the Kein TV video volk till very late. Finally my coverage of monday's migration demos are online, both as an mp4 from my site, and an ogg file on v2v.cc, via bittorrent and other peer-to-peer technologies. I was trying all day to upload it, to Indymedia Germany, to YouTube, etc, and both at the IMC here and at Kein.TV's lab there were internet problems and/or congestion which made it impossible.
Anyway, you should watch, I like how it turned out.
Today, who knows what will happen. There were rumors about police banning absolutely everything, all blockades, all further demos, everything, but it appears, according to the indymedia germany news ticker, that stuff is still going down. I hurt my foot yesterday so i don't know if I'll be running around filming a lot like I would like to. We'll see.
Today is my 7th day in Germany and my 3rd day in Rostock, where the anti-G8 mobilzation is happening all this week.
Things are a lot calmer than the huge crazy protests on Saturday that I missed because I was still in Berlin. There has been constant tension with police, but nothing serious has actually happened, and one has to remember that the mainstream media reports are greatly exaggerated and focused on the violence and the extremes. I'm hoping to counter that in my own coverage, focusing instead on the issues, the real reason we're here.
Yesterday's focus was migration and borders. I spent all day shooting video of 3 dfiferent actions. This post to Indymedia Germany that I posted this morning has a brief description of each and some stills I shot. Then last night I went to a panel discussion on migration. What an exhausting time, and yet inspiring. It has been really good to see, after getting involved via my own proximity to the US-Mexico border, how other struggles over borders and immigration and migration compare and contrast. The commonalities really resonate. One really inspiring thing is the slogan which I used for the title of this blog post. I think this needs to start being used in the US, because it encapsulates the real problem so concisely.
All day so far today I have been editing the footage I shot, sitting here for the last 5 hours at the Indymedia Center in downtown Rostock, next to a window looking out over the harbor and the little yard where activists sit on couches and drink tea. Dozens of other indymedia people from all over the world (well, mostly Europe) come in and out, doing some work, posting some news to their own local IMCs, sending emails.
In a couple of hours is another panel dicussion that is part of the "Alternative Summit," a more moderate, NGO response to the G8 this week - I'm interested in a panel tommorrow though because John Holloway will be there - the author of "Change the World Without Seizing Power," a book whose main ideas I found extrememly inspiring but whose academic tone made it the biggest reading disappointment of 2006 for me. However I still hope he will be interesting to hear speak.
I'm sitting here waiting for my finished video to upload. I'll post again to say where it is. I'm tired of waiting...
My 5th day in Germany and Berlin. Things have gone well other than the usual new-place frustrations from time to time of getting lost or being super tired or hungry and wandering looking for a place to rest or eat that is suitable.
Yesterday I went to a rally and march concerning migration and immigration and borders - against deportations and oppression and borders. "Kein Mensch Ist Illegal" is the German for a slogan I'm quite familiar with from being in in the US-Mexico borderlands: No One Is Illegal. I shot a few stills, some video, and recorded some great audio, including a great trio of german singers at the rally who did this sort of electroindustrial rap music, a few songs worth, which seemed to be relevant to the issues at hand but I couldn't be sure, of course. I made my first post to Germany Indymedia's website with some of the photos.
Today as I made my way around the city picking a few more bits of gear and supplies, the week of G8 protests officially began in Rostock and Schwerin. Police have already started huring people and arresting people. I've been following the Germany IMC news ticker to see the latest news. Julia and I will be driving her mother's car to Rostock tommorrow morning. I intend to spend most of the day just getting oriented and attending border/migration related forums and workshops at one of the convergence centers. Then monday is the big migration demo and march. I plan to stay safe and relatively out of the action, playing my usual role of media activist and documenting, rather than getting in the thick of the action.
Tonight though we'll be at a screening at NGBK, a gallery in the Kreuzberg neighborhood here in Berlin, where they will screen some of Julia's work. Later in the week they plan to screen some videos of mine as well as indymedia videos I've gathered during my stint as indymedia newsreal editor.