Often we host conversations about art in and and around Grand Rapids, but we rarely get a chance to host a conversation about what is happening in other places. Recently Paul Wittenbraker approached the Avenue for the Arts about hosting a talk with Alan Moore, current Learning Lab participant Tabitha Gibbs decided to take on the challenge of arranging the conversation and we added it to the summer roster of Avenue for the Arts events.
Alan helped start ABCnoRio in NYC, and is currently living in Madrid studying Occupation culture and squatting. The conversation centered around squatting as an action to take and create cultural space. My reflections:
1. While discussing the transition to ABCnoRIO Alan mentioned that the original crew burned out after about 3 years and leadership has changed dramatically over the last 3 decades. It’s reassuring to hear stories about the evolution of cultural spaces naturally absorbing changes in leadership.
2. Later while chatting about ABCnoRIO it was mentioned that while the city granted an original contact for use. Leadership of ABCnoRIO has fought to preserve access to the space using political and social connections to maintain access.
3. Seeing examples of squatted spaces in Madrid and Barcelona that are multifaceted and situated inside communities was striking. Most importantly was the reminder that ALL of the power associated with the movement comes from connecting to a network of other squatters and cultural activists. Power in numbers, shared passions, networks and connectivity!
4. Connecting visitors like Alan to artists along the Avenue to stay was a great fit (Paul’s idea and Tabitha coordinated)
Special thanks to Tabitha and Paul for all of their work coordinating with Alan, and to Alan for sharing his knowledge. All images stolen from the internet.