Spill Writing

Spill Geist: Demise of the urban free



We’re changing vantage points in this landscape; the wind is drying skin and leaves are flying, there’s a breeze, bodies being Other, wool and milk; rain and mist fade, feathers float and yet we’re slowing down; we’ve travelled beyond (we’ve been to other sides), and listened to the echoes and reverberations, and thought of darkness and of what is not seen (how urgent this all feels).


Marches have scattered and confrontations dispersed. A different sense of time lingers.  Personal memories have become public, and histories marked into public space, and bodies blended into sculptures and iconographies reworked.


[I pause, to allow the voices of those who have shaped this thinking, whilst I’ve been sat in this café, one of the thoroughfares of the festivals, and how these conversations and voices are embedded into the writing here, and how we need to give space to those voices too, the transition spaces of the festivals, the other gatherings.]


We are in the city, and the city changes (and we spoke of austerity, of gentrification, of economic and social fabrics, of ties and knots and models of sharing).


We set up some pairs, and I wonder how they sit with or versus, in relation to or against, in this expanding folkloric glossary:


Liberty / restriction

Self / collective

Public / private

Radical / radicalisation

Anonymity / accountability

Surveillance / agency

Representation / appropriation

Manipulation / confrontation

Risk / safety

Trace / imprint

Policing / self-exposure

Resistance / commodification

Social engagement / community

Continuity / neoliberalism

Distribution / regulation


And there were pauses, and we thought of where we were not, and we thought of the events that happened over the past week, of the events that happened earlier on, of the events that have led up to now, of the narratives that matter and the power of failure too.


We spoke of the risk of getting involved and the importance of scales of value

Of continuity and duration

Of sharing tools and models

Of mixed economies and governmental structures, specificity and complaints,

Of ideology

Of liberty to libertarianism

Of education to choice

Of barriers real and assumed

Of what holds cities together

Of who occupies the territory and where the conflict lies

Of what is happening now and where we are with it all

Of art as frame or art as form or art as intervention

Of workers and labourers and modes of intervention

Of institutionalisation and reworking value judgments

Of temporary occupations and examples

Of blame and responsibility


And asking what do we do from here

And asking how sharp our teeth are

And asking to look back as much as look forward.


– Diana.