Like Paper in Fire

Bandits. Berlin, 2010.

Wherever walls, fences and windows are plastered with flyers, we know that the pace of daily life slows down there. Maybe it’s a corner where people wait for a bus or train. Maybe it’s a meeting ground, where the impulse to linger overrides the call of the next errand. Maybe it’s simply the sort of empty surface that demands to be acknowledged by those who pass by on foot. They are the places where the flow of urban commerce is temporarily dammed up, where the wasting of time is recycled into productivity of a different order.

This is true regardless of the flyers’ subject matter. But when activists take advantage of these pools and eddies, it means something different than when advertisers do. In refusing to concede space to the pursuit of profit, they demonstrate a keen awareness of late capitalism’s weak spot: boredom. When the mind is permitted to wander, getting it back on the most efficient route between points A and B can be a major challenge.

The best political flyers in Europe build on this insight, echoing form in content. Consider this example from Berlin. In a sense, the banditry it invokes is a condition shared by all who stop to read it. Because time spent contemplating the ephemeral nature of paper-based institutions is time that can’t be devoted to making their beneficiaries richer.

The Text
(retranslated from the German original)

Bandits, because they committed themselves to anti-military action.

Bandits, because they occupied an empty building in order to live another lifestyle, far from capitalist and authoritarian thinking.

Bandits, because they sought to hinder a Nazi march and were attacked by the cops.

An eviction order is a repressive measure. It is a ban for a particular city, village, or neighborhood that stretches over a longer period of time.

In Italy, this measure is being used more and more frequently to drive out politically active people. Recently, more than forty comrades have been given an eviction order from either the city of Trento or the city of Rovereto.

The goal of an eviction order is to impede the relationships and activities of a person.

They think that they can stop us that way.

But even an eviction order cannot hold us back or make us submit to money and those who possess it, people who want to see us as slave-like, as non-life.

We will not stay silent or peaceful while state and capital destroy our lives.

We will continue the struggle.

Paper is only paper and paper burns!!!


Preface and translation from the German by Charlie Bertsch. Photographed in Berlin by Joel Schalit.

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