Colectivo Enmedio

quienessomos21Colectivo Enmedio speak excellent English! So we’ll let them speak for themselves, this bio is lovingly lifted from their “About us” page. Hear, hear!

“Enmedio means “in the midst of…”, and that’s where we are: in the midst of everything. In the midst of art, social activism, in the midst of the media. We are a motley crew: sometimes there are many of us, sometimes just a few. In our ranks there are artists, graphic designers, filmmakers…. Our adventures began five years ago. We began with the Jueves Enmedio, where we would hold meetings on Thursdays to think about the political function of art. We gave workshops, presentations, film screenings. Hundreds of people passed through, and that’s how the Enmedio community was born, that’s how we became strong. And then the crisis hit.

At the beginning, the crisis was just a mood, a kind of social sadness that paralysed everything. We decided to break that atmosphere by organising a party, in the proud Spanish tradition.
The first thing you need when you want to have a party is a venue, so we started to look for one. We wanted a place in which social fear and sadness had a strong presence, and it didn’t take long for us to find it: an unemployment office. And that’s where we went one morning with our sound system. It was beautiful to see, five minutes of dancing and silliness were all it took to put a smile on the long faces of the clients. The video we made became famous on the Internet, much more than we had imagined. Now it has over a million visits and it has inspired many similar parties that have been held in unemployment offices all over the country.

A little later, people started to lose their fear of the crisis, and began to feel outraged instead. A tsunami of protests flooded the country: occupy camps in the squares, assemblies with thousands of people, massive demonstrations… “We are not merchandise in the hands of politicians and bankers!” – we had finally identified Evil, and now all we had to do was finish it off. That’s why we organised a conference called How to End Evil, five days of talks and workshops about creative activism. Admission was free because we financed it through a crowdfunding campaign, which meant that many people came, hundreds of them. One of the results of the conference was our next project.

In 2112, Bankia, one of Spain’s major banks, filed for bankruptcy and then asked the Spanish Government for 23,000 million euros. Can you guess where the Government got such an enormous sum of money? Education and Health suffered cutbacks of 20,000 million euros that same week. That’s when we realised that what they were calling a “crisis” was actually a swindle. First, fear had turned into outrage. Now, people weren’t just outraged, we were mad as hell. So we organised another party – can you imagine any better way to work off some rage? – “cut-backs to banks are about to begin” said the invitation. We sent it out to a whole lot of people who enthusiastically turned up on the day. Together, we went to the closest Bankia branch and hid until a customer arrived and closed her account. And at that point, we jumped out and celebrated in a big way. Music, rivers of bubbly, confetti… The now ex-customer ended up being carried out the door, she thought the whole thing was incredible. We made a video of this too and published it on the Internet. In less than 24 hours, it had over 250,000 visits. Look for it, it’s called “Cierra Bankia” (and that’s exactly what many people did in the following weeks: close their Bankia accounts. Some of them with a surprise party.

How to End Evil also helped to boost our photographic action workshop TAF! (Taller de Acción Fotográfica). TAF! sees photography as a tool for intervention in public space, and that’s exactly how it has used it on numerous occasions, in workshops and actions in collaboration with some of the city’s activist collectives. The most fruitful and lasting relationship of this kind has been with the PAH, the platform of people affected by the mortgage crisis, a very broad social movement made up mainly of people who have been or are on the point of being evicted from their homes. The eviction statistics in Spain are shocking. Since 2007, some 400,000 families have lost their houses. Just in 2012, there were 532 evictions per day. TAF! puts a face to these statistics. We take portraits of the people being evicted, then we make giant prints and paste those “giantographies” on the façades of the banks which are behind the forced evictions. This has two positive outcomes: on one hand, it lifts the spirits of those who are affected – the people being evicted; and on the other, it is a way of achieving a strong media impact, publicly pointing out those who are responsible for so much misery: the banks.Along these same lines, we came up with the project We are not Numbers, a series of postcards featuring portraits of people who have been evicted, along with their stories. We take these postcards to demonstrations against evictions, so that the demonstrators can write whatever they like on the back of them. Then, we send them to the directors of the banks. The idea is to flood their mailboxes with the faces of the crisis, which they themselves have created.

In our spare time we do other things too, such as throwing hundreds of Frisbees at Congress, for example, or making the Pope impotent. That was particularly satisfying, actually. Making a Pope impotent is easier than you think. All you have to do is notify the media and gather a whole lot of people around a Totem (ours was the Agbar building in Barcelona, for its phallic shape); then, everybody has to focus their minds and concentrate until there is an electrical discharge. It’s foolproof. In less than half an hour, the Pope is impotent forever. But if you’re thinking of trying it yourself, be careful: it has an expansive effect. We didn’t realise this at the time, and it has been spreading ever since. First in the Vatican and then the clergy in general; one member at a time.

We hope this introduction has given you an idea of who we are and what we do. If you want to know more, just ask us. Now you know where we are. We’re in the midst of the crisis, and we seem likely to remain here for quite a while. As they say, the crisis is here to stay. But that doesn’t scare us, because we’re here to stay too. What about you?”

Links

Colectivo Enmedio in Guerrilla Translation!