Monthly Archives: April 2011

A piece of tactical media history: The Tompkins Square Riots and the ‘Camcorder Revolution’

New York based media artist and media-activist Paul Garrin‘s video Man with a Video Camera (Fuck Vertov) has been available for some time on-line at the Media Art Net website – unfortunately only in grainy quality. We decided to nonetheless include this video in the Tactical Media Files, as it represents an important moment in shaping what would later be termed ‘tactical television’ during the first Next 5 Minutes festival in 1993.

Tompkin Square on Eyewitness News stillGarrin’s video documents police brutalities in what is now known as the 1988 Tompkin Square Police Riot in Lower east Manhattan, leading on from anti-gentrification protests in the neighbourhood. Garrin more or less accidentally ended up in the middle of the riot with a video camera, and also got beaten up himself. He managed to air the video on several TV stations, resulting in police threats on his answering machine. When he contacted more prominent media with his tape and his story,  a media whirlwind was unleashed – testifying for Garrin to the power of video to contradict official but clearly false representations of social and political events. It sparked what Garrin calls the ‘camcorder revolution’.



To Serve And ProtectAs the video is already available on-line we  collected  other relevant background materials. In August 2008 The Shadow,  “New York’s only underground newspaper, publishing on the Lower East Side of Manhattan since 1989, as a result of the distorted mainstream media coverage in the aftermath of the infamous police riot in Tompkins Square Park on August 6-7, 1988“, devoted an issue to the ’20th aniversary’ of the events in 1988 that had spraked its own inception. The issue includes a collection of ‘riot memories’ by people directly involved in the events, including Garrin himself.

Thirdly Garrin’s short textThe 1988 Tompkins Square Police Riot – A Video Point of View” has been added that reflects on the media dimension of that hot summer night in 1988 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Considering the proliferation of citizen media, on-line video, reality media (as nauseum) today, it is hard to imagine the almost entirely closed media landscape of the 1980s and the broadcasters insistence on ‘broadcast specs’ for (not) accepting citizen reports – still the fights over transparency and public representation continue, also today.



And here’s another one in the category ‘Art Under Siege': a particularly bizarre case of a major company, Louis Vuitton, prosecuting a young artist, Nadia Plesner, for ‘infringement on their intellectual property’ (for depicting one of their handbags in a rather controversial painting…

Read all about the background here.

And below the painting in question is a recent communication of  Nadia Plesener about the state of legal proceedings.

Nadia Plesner - Darfurnica


From: “Nadia Plesner” <contact [ a t ]>
Date: April 13, 2011 1:27:17 PM GMT+02:00

As some of you might have heard, I am facing a litigation started by Louis Vuitton. LV is aggressively going after my painting Darfurnica, in which I depict a little Darfur boy holding a LV bag and Paris Hilton’s dog. They claim that depicting their bag in a work of art is a violation of their design rights.

Amazingly, they recently obtained an ex parte order from the court of The Hague against me, which forbids me from depicting the little boy with the bag, including in any work of art or on my website; there is a penalty of EUR 5000 per day for any violation (the clock is ticking since January 28, and the total amount is now 380.000 EUR today.

I refuse to remove the artwork from my website, instead I have countersued and we are preparing summary proceedings to have the court order lifted.

For more information I refer you to this blog (which includes an English translation of the court order):

The first court hearing will take place Wednesday April 20 at 2pm in the court in the Hague, Prins Clauslaan 60.

I would like to invite all of you to come to the court hearing and support me and the freedom of speech.

My class and teachers are coming, but the more the better. Together we can show LV and other large companies that in a world of IP rights, there must be room left for artistic freedom.

There will be media people attending the hearing as well.
If you come, make sure you’re there in time, as there is also a security check you have to go through by the entrance.

I hope to see you there, and if you know other people who might want to support my case, feel free to forward this information to them.

All the best,

Nadia Plesner, BK2 Rietveld Academie

Support for Ai Weiwei?

On the Spectre mailing list for ‘media culture in Deep Europe’ an intense debate has erupted about calls for support for the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was recently detained by Chinese authorities. Below is the call distributed on the list. Please decide for yourself if you want to support this cause or not.

Michael Schindhelm, cultural director for The Executive office of the Government of Dubai,speaks wIth Ai Wei Wei, chinese artist, at his home in Beijing, China, Saturday, December 14th, 2007.

Michael Schindhelm, cultural director for The Executive office of the Government of Dubai,speaks wIth Ai Wei Wei, chinese artist, at his home in Beijing, China, Saturday, December 14th, 2007.


“On April 3, internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport while en route to Hong Kong, and his papers and computers were seized from his studio compound.
Sign now! we need to reach 100,000 signatures!;opt_fb=t

‘The members of the international arts community express their concern for Ai’s freedom and disappointment in China’s reluctance to live up to its promise to nurture creativity and independent thought, the keys to “soft power” and cultural influence.

The initiative has been taken working closely with Jerome Cohen, the leading Chinese human rights lawyer who is working on Weiwei’s case, and who believes that this action could be effective.
To support the petition you can link it on your website, on Facebook and Twitter sites, in order to quickly reach millions of people.’

We need to reach 100,000 signatures.”

SPECTRE list for media culture in Deep Europe
Info, archive and help:

Posted on the list: April 14, 2011 15:03:13 GMT+02:00