This is my view of the D-Form eviction written a few days after:
"here is a hasty account of my view of the last few days, feel free to distribute it...
D-forming the forum: cultural repression in Barcelona
By la mutanta Monday 4th October 2004
This weekend in Barcelona the D-form festival of underground and itinerant performance was broken up violently by a military style police operation. Police arrived at the festival site, a big square of concrete in the industrial and dock land area of town, just before dawn on Friday morning. About three hundred people where there, preparing for the festival, setting up infrastructure and sculptures, scenery and spaces. There was already a skate park, a kids area, band stage, enormous circus big top, bars and cafes, internet centre, many different performance spaces. We all struggled out of our trucks and caravans in the twilight, blinking at blue flashing lights and large numbers of armed police and riot cops. We stalled for time, calling in lawyers and the media, more cops arrived bringing with them tow trucks and rubbish crushers. This tense stand off game continued for a while. We started to pack up, reluctantly, slowly, hoping that the festival would have some last minute reprieve. More police arrived, wild eyed and wired on something. They didn't want to converse with those of us who tried. Some beautiful moments of performance erupted, circus girls cart wheeling in front of the riot cops, crazy desperate acrobatics, stilt walkers, stalking in and out of the battle lines swing flags... till we all finally came to realise that it was hopeless to continue to try and hold the site. In that moment of d-form deflation someone climbed on to the top of the huge circus tent and began to play his trumpet, the clear notes drifting out over the site as we packed up, seeming like the solitary persistent sound of hope.
Things got very hectic after that. The police lost patience with our slow motion packing and began to move in on us. Sculptures where ceased and crushed in the bin Lorries. I remember the sickening crunching sounds as we frantically tried to gather up all our stuff. Spaces and scenery that had taken a day or two to assemble had to be dismantled in minutes, thrown randomly into what every truck had space by many urgent hands. Our circus, like, most other groups there, had our entire livelihoods spread out on that dusty concrete, our theatre equipment, trapeze rig, our homes. We would have lost it all if it hadn't been for the way every one moved fast, helping each other in that moment of mad flight as we scrambled to get moving before the truncations started to descend.
So what is really happening here? Many different stories led to and away from that crisis point on Thursday morning. The stories of the different companies, many of whom had made there way across Europe to participate, the stories of the local and international team who had been working for months to organise the festival, but also the wider story of culture as it is in Europe now. This summer Barcelona has hosted the European Forum of culture. This big show case of all things cultural has turned out to be a massive and expensive flop, badly attended and widely criticised for its hypocrisy: a forum for peace, art and sustainability which is sponsored by weapons manufactures; a supposed promoter of cultural diversity, hosting such delights as a gypsy week, which has been build on a spot from which a big camp of gypsy families where forcible evicted to make way for the sleek and glossy new Forum venue.
D-form festival was a critical response to the Forum, an attempt to show case genuine grass roots art from all over Europe, an independent and genuine representation. Saying: Look: this is culture in Europe now! This is what's happening in myriad different places... from squats and protests, on the streets and the party scene, at theatre and music festivals, urban warehouses and in remote mountain villages. All of these small autonomous moments of cultural expression, have been happening with out sponsorship or state funding, using underground decentralised networks to communicate with and inspire each other. D-form was an attempt to bring lots of these sparks together. The festival organisers wanted to open up our performance scene and reach out to a big audience. Although most people involved are used to organising things on the underground with out waiting for permission from authorities, for this event long negotiations where entered into with the council and cultural offices in Barcelona in the attempt to get the festival a venue and legal status. The council was at first encouraging, promising to provide a suitable location but at the last moment a totally impractical and inappropriate place was proposed. It was far too small, in doors with no parking space and an eleven o'clock curfew. The festival was left with no choice but to squat a venue and now that the council had hastily withdrawn their support we no had rights and no festival.
Its hard to describe the frazzled insanity of the past couple of days. All of us scattered around the town, sleep deprived, gathering where we can, in squats and on beaches, constantly being moved, fined and harassed by police. Amongst us all communication is fragmented, mad roomers and Chinese whispers abound, complaints and blame is thrown around but through it all lot of mutual support looking after each other, defiance, wild eyed laughter, falling back on our own strength.
On Saturday it look for a few hours as if we had found another site, just out of town on private land, but the first trucks arrived there to find the police waiting for them. It also transpired that the person who had offered the site had already invited sound systems to come there for a technival, a situation that D-form had been trying hard to avoid since they wanted to put on a performance event, not the usual mad techno party.
By Saturday evening we where forced to accept that D-form festival wasn't going to happen. But we where all still there frustrated but not crushed, all dressed up with nowhere to go. All the pent up energy peaked in a big loud peaceful protest which took over the centre of the town. More than three thousand people danced through the streets while Ojos de Brujos, a local hip-hop flamenco band played on the back of a truck. The fact the so many people took to the street spontaneously shows not only the passion surrounding this festival but also suggests that had it gone ahead it would have been very well attended. Since then the energy is dying down. People are taking stock of the considerable debts and damage. There is lots to be discussed and lots to be learnt. D-from festival didn't happen as we had imagined but something very powerful took place. We still have our visions, our networks and after (a bit more sleep!), our energy. THE SHOW MUST GO ON!"