We have chosen to participate in the 7th Berlin Biennale for many reasons, some personal, some collectively shared. Above all, the KunstWerke provides us with a space to bring together participants from different countries around the world, to share our experiences from the last year and build new connections to bring our movements forward. The next two months will be a collective experiment, as we work together to transform the gallery hall into a space where we can discuss both political questions and organizational strategies, grow through public interaction, and engage in various forms of activism, from creative actions to mass demonstrations.
Even as we come together during the Biennale, the right to public assembly is being threatened, both by the police and through legislative changes. Water cannons in Chile, tear gas in Oakland and police batons in Spain have been deployed against people raising their voice. The simple act of coming together in public to discuss our future is no longer possible in our famed democracies. The European Union is currently building task forces and legal frameworks to suppress the social uprisings that we saw in Greece or Spain more effectively, and more silently. Across Northern Africa, from Tunisia to Egypt to Syria, violent state repression has cost many people their lives. The gallery provides us with a temporary safe haven to engage in the work of political change, but the real struggle takes place in the streets.
This is not an art project or a publicity stunt, nor is it a substitute for the occupation of public space. Although we may be in a gallery in Berlin, we are not a static movement on display. We are part of larger actions unfolding across the planet. In the United States, Occupy Wall Street has called for a general strike on May 1st, a call that will be answered enthusiastically in cities across North America and Europe. Following a year after the emergence of the movement in Spain on 15M, May 12 will be another major day of international demonstrations. In Berlin, demonstrations growing out of neighborhood assemblies will converge from five different points of the city, building an Agora at Alexanderplatz to serve as a two-week hub for networking and an exchange of ideas. On May 16 to 19, a broad international coalition will travel to Frankfurt for Blockupy, an action to blockade the European Central Bank and demand an end to the undemocratic crisis regime of the European Union. Like these major actions, the occupied Berlin Biennale is only a step in the long process of building a successful movement for social, economic and environmental justice. We invite you to join us.