Matthew Fuller on Fri, 13 Dec 96 16:37 MET

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Point of departure

In France a strike is commonplace - a regular occurrence in the ordinary
politics of bargaining over economic and social policies. Last December
however, when for a period of three weeks public services - rail, schools,
and post - came to a standstill, across the nation the strike became an
exceptional phenomenon disrupting the everyday "normal" life of masses of
people. Railway workers had gone on strike first in protest against a plan
for restructuring their social insurance. This strike ignited similar
concerns of workers in schools and the post office. What developed was a
broad strike on three fronts interpreted by some as an eruption of
widespread fear about social security in general.


The club Merleau - Ponty, a group of sociologist and journalists, followed
demonstrations and conducted field research of the striking in Paris, e.g.
, they interviewed activists and sympathizers. Their purpose was to better
understand the mechanics of this broad strike, e.g., how it was set into
motion, gathered force, and ended, and, how the circulation of information
affected the development. The aim was to generate a kind of picture of this
blocking up of social force, the damming of the normal flow of life of
masses of people across the nation. Now - nearly one year after the strike-
the Club Merleau-Ponty has recently resolved the question of how to share
their research results with a broad public. As conventional means - such as
a lecture or symposium - seemed too cooly academic, the group opted instead
for more lively active performative media and engaged the collaboration of
the union members and artists working in the field of public art, language
and communication. The associative concept is to set up a forum for larger
reflection about broad-reaching economic and social developments through
various activities; direct interventions in railway stations, performances,
debates, and PORTE PAROLE, an project on the internet.

This project was realised as a ramification of the event


Anybody can participate in this project by taking from this page images (a
collection documenting the 1995 strike in Paris), working with these images
and sending back the manipulated images to

With a simple click on the image you will get a version of approximately
50kb. The returned pictures will also be presented  on this site for
further manipulations.

(The pictures you will send us back should be, if possible, in  Gif or Jpeg)

The different stages of the pictures will be documented and published on a
CD-Rom for shows and debates in the end of this year.

Information about the project:    Heinrich Lber

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