Campina Grande, Brazil: Report from the 1st Fair of Zines and Libertarian Material

As those that live in Campina Grande already know, the Cine São José was an important cinema-theater of the city, that ended its activities back in the 70s; it was preserved as an historical heritage, stayed abandoned until 2010, when it was occupied by students and the artistic-cultural movement of the city. Many activities were realized in the spaces of the old cinema during the year of the occupation, but due to various factors the space ended up almost in no use in 2011. This year, activities were launched once again and a Fair of Zines and Libertarian Material was set for March 2012.

The occupation of the cinema has always been an open space, without bureaucracies and free for all kind of activities of counter-attack or cultural fomentation. The idea about the zine-fair was something that me (V), alongside with L., A., and others, came up with after some time of talking and that had been left aside, for a future to come, due to other events that were emerging. Well, in February, the hunger finally met the will to eat, and the Heresia Collective decided to liven up the cinema with this fair. Besides the fair, we decided to produce a zine and launch it that day, distribute plant seedlings, make some graffiti, workshop of stencil and in order to have a more direct dialogue we sat together and exchanged ideas about urban occupation.

Given that the date was marked for March 31, the last Saturday of the month, we started to retake some action in the occupation. What we found out was that the cinema had been neglected by the very same members of the movement that had used the building for the last time on December of the previous year and had left it in a pitiful state. We turned that page. The Cine São José was once again alive. Reunions, conversations, productions, cleaning, talking with the neighbors and passersby, who were always stopping to ask about the old cinema, thus showing their support to the squat.

March 22nd, SUPLAN agents sealed off the squatted building

Just a week before the event, we were stunned by the extreme attitude on behalf of the States’ offices: Walls had been raised in the doors of the cinema. It is obvious that an attack to the culture and history of the city would not be tolerated. The very same day that the wall was built, it was also taken down. The next day they came back to raise new walls and close all the entrances to the building. The arguments of SUPLAN (Supervision of States’ developing planning) of the State of Paraíba was that the provisional sealing of the building took place in order to prevent its invasion by marginals who would perform robberies in the neighborhood and also to prevent acts of vandalism in the building. Pure fallacy. Since the building was occupied there has been no activity of burglars or drug users, like the State argues.

Walls were taken down once again; the time had come to re-habit the space, though there was much more cleaning to be done, since they had filled up the doors of the cinema with mortar. We rushed to organize the event and make all necessary decisions.

On the 31th, a Saturday with a clear sky and heat in the streets full of people and fumes, the doors of the occupation opened and we saw a beautiful human flow entering the place. A pleasant surprise was the presence of people that didn’t participate directly in the events’ organization, but brought their own zines.

During the morning, friends showed up to check out the activities, while many people stopped when passing by, in the view of the seedlings and the people inside the occupied cinema. After a while, the weathered walls were painted and the Vaca Falante (Talking Cow) crew showed up bringing soya cakes and grape juice made by a good comrade. The zine of the Heresia collective was presented, passing by the hands of everybody that came to take a look at the fair, just like another zine about fashion dictatorship (produced by E.) and feminist zines (brought by A.). Many seedlings were shared out to people, in order to flourish in nearby or distant lands.

It’s a pity that people who feel the necessity to mark territory wanted to leave their signature in a space that belongs to me, to you, to everybody, and has no exclusivity for nobody. But that’s only a detail. We move forward, overpassing all obstacles that emerge in our way.

At the end of the day, besides the painted walls, only a few seedlings remained without being distributed. But that is already a subject for another post…


source: okupa y resiste
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