Format: video with audio
Running time: approx. 17 min 24 sec.
Summary: Pinky, Bunny, and Daisy visited Slovenia to participate in a series of debates plus an art exhibition on radical education. What did they do? What did they talk about? What did they eat?
Pinky: Hi everybody. Bunny and Daisy and I, we just got back from Slovenia, where a group of educators from around the world, we met for a series of debates and conversations and an exhibition. The event was organized by the Radical Education Collective in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and there were researchers, artists, social activists, museum-people and so on - people from Brazil, Guatemala, Croatia, Spain, Kosovo - a lot of places. I guess we were the representatives from the United States huh?
Bunny: I guess so.
Bunny: I said YES.
Pinky: The purpose of the event was for all of us to meet and share information and analyses of the most pressing issues that we are facing in our part of the world, and of course to discuss strategies of intervention - how to transform consciousness through education. Not just formal education, like the kind you find in classrooms, but all kinds of different educational practices - like radical cartography, militant research, co-research, agit-prop... uh... direct social and political actions, underground media - stuff like that. The trip was really great - we learned a lot from everybody we met, and... actually we were really naughty because we told everybody we met that we're super famous in America. Anyway, we'd like to show you photos from our trip, okay? Here we go: "slideshow".
To get to Slovenia, first we had to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah - this is Utah - then Atlanta, then Germany... this is the airport at Frankfurt. You know, compared to the big European airports, the U.S. airports look kinda "dumpy" - like they're designed by the same guys who design J.C. Penny's, or Sears or something.
Anyway here's the airplane we rode from Frankfurt to Slovenia. Looks like they forgot to paint it.
This is our first view of the Alps, crossing over Germany and Austria to Slovenia. Nice.
I hate these signs - they have them at all the E.U. airports. How'd cats become the poster child for disease? This is dog-propaganda.
Okay, here we are at the center of Ljubljana, which is the capital of Slovenia.
My first impression of Slovenia was that it's very clean and has lots of nice architecture, and I hate to use this word, because it makes it sound like Disneyland, but Bunny and I thought it was very 'cute' - with charming-looking small farms, forests, churches, and even castles. Maybe Slovenian people wouldn't appreciate me calling their country "cute" but coming from Baker, California, that's the first thing I thought of.
Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia until it broke away in 1991. There was a very short war at the time that lasted 10 days. Since breaking away Slovenia has changed from a socialist system towards a full-on capitalist, so-called "market economy". Actually, other countries in this region are also going through parallel transitions, although in each country the dynamics are different. It was really interesting because nobody is uncritically accepting the idea that capitalism is the solution to everything. Since the people are living through these big changes right now, they are really thinking hard about questions like how to organize their society, or what's the best way for a government to relate to the people. It was kind of striking how different these discussions are - by comparison you really get the impression that here in the United States there's just so much stuff that we'd never even consider.
Just one example - this is Social Center ROG. It's a cluster of buildings that used to be a bicycle factory which was vacated and abandoned when the factory closed. But instead of seeing it as a dead and useless space, a group of people from the area decided to occupy it and transform it into an autonomous public space where educators, students, artists, and social justice workers from all over Europe can come to learn and work on issues of democracy, human rights, and all kinds of cultural programs. We also visited a second abandoned factory that had been taken over by artists to create work studios and meeting spaces, and we found out that actually these kinds of autonomous public spaces are all across Europe. This is not the kind of thing we'd really expect to see in the U.S., but with so much important work coming out of these centers, I think it's important to ask "Why isn't this happening in the U.S.?" To answer a question like this probably we have to re-think our conceptions of "public", "ownership", and, most of all, "democracy". I like this graffiti - this pretty much sums it up.
Oh yeah, another thing we noticed right away is that Slovenian people are very interested in cats and social justice graffiti. I like this one - it says "space invaders against sexism".
Okay, moving on - sorry, I'm kind of jumping around here real fast because we wanted to show you a little bit about the food, because we're always very interested in food.
First of all, I think it should be noted that Slovenian cat food pretty much looks and tastes like U.S. cat food.
Also we were really impressed with the amazing variety of canned fish they have there.
At the center of Ljubljana there's a large open market every morning - we went there a couple of times to buy roasted chestnuts and apple cider.
We tried lots of traditional Slovenian dishes - this is bread with mushroom soup hidden inside.
...I forget what this is [called]...
Apple strudel - I love apple strudel.
This one was amazing. It was some kind of honey-cake with apples.
Slovenian Mexican food - not so good.
Bunny eats meat so she really liked Slovenian food a lot, especially the sausages.
And the goulash, which to me looks a lot like beef stew.
Bunny: Goulash is beef stew.
Pinky: Oh okay, it's beef stew.
This was the scariest thing Bunny ate on the trip, with this dangerous-looking dead animal on top of a bed of rice.
Bunny: It's paella, stupid.
Pinky: Okay. Chocolate cat. Ooh, Slovenian chocolate is really really good. Here's some tiny coffee cups - adorable - and here's an interesting chocolate bar made in the shape of a "human fish", which is not actually a fish - it's actually a type of blind Slovenian salamander. Here's a real one swimming around - they can go without eating for, like, 10 years or something. I think that candy bar was one of my favorite things I saw on my trip.
Wet bird. Another bird. Hmm - [off mic] hey, who took all these fat bird pictures?
This is Skuc Gallery, where some of the debates and also where the accompanying exhibition was held. One of the rooms had our videos playing and people would just come in from the street and watch em, it was kind of nice. Our Pinky Show stuff was being shown together with work from some of the other groups that also use visual materials as part of their educational practice. We have some examples.
This is a small installation by H.I.J.O.S. [text: H.I.J.O.S. (Guatemala)] H.I.J.O.S. stands for "Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice Against Oblivion and Silence". H.I.J.O.S. is a collective that was formed by children of the "disappeared" - those hundreds of thousands of people who were abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered by the Guatemalan military and paramilitary groups during La Violencia - the bloody civil war years that raged for almost forty years beginning in the 1960's. H.I.J.O.S. uses a wide range of means of communication - non-violent demonstrations, education work, graffiti, and artwork, etc. - to struggle for collective memory, and against a government-sponsored campaign to forget, a system of forgetting imposed so that the government and military people who committed genocide and other crimes against humanity can enjoy perpetual impunity. It's frightening and sad to think that most people in the U.S. don't know or don't care that there was genocide in Guatemala, or that the U.S. government supported it and trained the death squads. Even though the peace accords were signed over 10 years ago, Guatemala is still a very scary and dangerous place and the H.I.J.O.S. people literally risk their lives to fight for justice.
This is some work by Contra File. They are a collective from Sao Paulo, Brazil and they use art as a way to research and explain and transform social reality, especially as it relates to the lives of children. For example this piece critically examines the "official" news coverage of a youth prison uprising in Sao Paulo. The big words in the prison courtyard says, "We are not rioting, we want our rights. Peace." This wall is like a large diagram that shows how master narratives stigmatize certain classes of children - especially children in the prisons and homeless children. The diagram also shows some examples of the collective's actions that are designed to change those predatory relationships. They call this continuous process of reflection and action "The Rebellion of the Children".
This projector is showing a video from La Lleca - an art-politics-education group from Mexico, and they do a lot of work in the prisons. This video shows an art performance in which suggestions on how to confront crime and an unjust prison system comes from the prisoners themselves, instead of just asking politicians, "security" experts, and law enforcement people.
Zampa di Leone is a collective from Serbia that critiques the arts establishment in the Balkans in particular, but also the European Union in general. It looks like they are especially interested in showing the hypocrisy and elitism that is produced when one cultural realm is cannibalized by a larger, more powerful cultural realm, although honestly I don't think we know enough about the context to get most of the funny parts. But that doesn't stop us from laughing at the drawings, they are really disgusting...
This is Albert Heta and Agon Hamza from Kosovo. They're associated with Stacion Center for Contemporary Art in Kosovo and were there to help people understand what's been going on in Kosovo since the NATO bombing. We had lunch with them and the one thing that I remember most about that was when I asked Agon what the Kosovo economy was mainly comprised of, and he said something like, "What economy? We have 50% unemployment..."
Here's our stuff. This is the small room where our videos were showing and here's the outside of that room. I made a big painting of Bunny leaping through the air with a hammer, ready to smash things. The words say "We are moving toward a critique of our most deeply held stories", which is a kind of summation of what we hope the Pinky Show is good for.
Next to the big Bunny we put sixteen stickers - each one with a definition of ideology from Terry Eagleton's Ideology: An Introduction. These definitions are like small reminders to ourselves - we don't think we can understand how we exist in this world unless we understand how ideology works.
The Bunny painting was actually made in such a way that it only looks... um... 'natural' and 'coherent' from only one perspective. But as you move into and around the room, you start to see how the image is actually very distorted and disjointed.
Here I am next to the entrance to our part of the exhibition. It's a little hard to see in this picture but on the wall, I wrote a diary entry. When people kneel down to read the diary entry, then the big Bunny painting in the room looks normal, see? The text basically mentions how we're here in Slovenia and it's cold so Bunny got all fuzzy and stuff, but more importantly, I wanted to state, very plainly, the real reason why we came to Slovenia, which was to meet with the other educators face to face, and just sit down and talk and learn from each other. That's the dialogical aspect that tends to get left out whenever you have an exhibition of "stuff on a wall". So every night we were learning things and creating new knowledge with each other. One night someone would teach us about the Occupied Factory Movement; after that we'd teach them about Operation Garden Plot. On other nights we learned a lot of stuff we didn't know about U.S. Imperialism in Central America; in return we traced for them the history of U.S. imperialism in Hawaii. So together, in conversation, we were able to figure out how these histories are intertwined - which is maybe why we are not supposed to be talking to each other! Which is also why we will definitely keep talking to each other!
The gallery people printed a lot of Pinky Show comics and zines for people to read and take with them.
Oh! This is Bojana, one of the organizers of the event, while we were setting up. She's so nice.
Aha - Bunny vandalism! Anyway, there's lots more that I can't fit into this slideshow, so maybe some other time? Us and some of the other groups agreed that we will continue to work on some projects together, so please stay tuned for that!
They sure have some unusual Christmas lights in Slovenia.
And this is towards the end of our trip, when Bunny and I were both pretty sick.
Okay, I guess that's the end of our Slovenia photos. People we met there we very warm and kind to us, and we wished we could have taken all of them home with us... but you know.
This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. After crossing the Atlantic over England, Iceland, and Greenland, we flew for a long time over Hudson Bay. It was just fields of ice, with giant fissures in it. I couldn't believe how vast it was.
I think this was somewhere near Saskatoon, Canada.
Mono Lake - when you see this you know you're getting really close to home.
And finally Los Angeles. Flat, concrete Los Angeles.