(1) Coming soon: Fadaiat*// Borderline Academy June 18-26, 2005
(2) Looking back: Fadaiat 2004 — a report from last years event
(1) Fadaiat*// BORDERLINE ACADEMY
Tarifa is a small city in the very south of Spain. Ten kilometers of sandy beach, fresh winds and a medieval city center attract a multitude of travellers: Surfers, tourists looking for recreation as well as all sorts of transients from the northern parts of Europe. But that’s not all: All the year, but especially around midsummer, at night hundreds of people go the other way around. They come from the Maghreb or subsaharian countries and they are heading northwards by crossing the Straits of Gibraltar by boat and without papers.
The 29 kilometer wide stretch between Tangiers in the north of Morocco and Tarifa keeps the smallest possible distance between Africa and Europe. It cuts one of the most prominent border regions in history filled up with flowery metaphors and bloody realities, nowadays characterized by high-tech surveillance and bodily resistance.
FADAIAT*// BORDERLINE ACADEMY will take place in Tarifa from June 17th to 26th, 2005. The old castle of “Guzman El Bueno” built in the 9th century will host a series of workshops, seminars, public events, concerts, parties, screenings, shows, theoretical and practical experiments in arts, media and politics.
More than 200 artists and activists from all over Europe and the Mediterranean are expected to meet for an hybrid academy project: FADAIAT*// BORDERLINE ACADEMY will link practices of producing art, culture and technology with current debates on movements, mobility, migration and precarity. It aims to shape new notions of collaboration and activism that reach out beyond traditional patterns of primitive networking, moral binaries and institutional critique.
From and across the margins of the real the notion of a virtual europe may arise that is based on the concepts of freedom of movement and freedom of knowledge against the regimes of paranoia and privatization, against the logics of inclusion and exclusion.
The ten days event is designed in a strictly modular set-up: Individuals, groups, networks can plug into a common infrastructure that consists of meeting spaces, communication platforms, production facilities and local area networks in an extraordinary challenging and inspiring environment.
THE OVERCODED BORDER
Like in 2004, there will be a wireless link across the Straits of Gibraltar that establishes a temporary high-bandwith internet connection between Tarifa and Tangiers.
Every night a video-program will be produced that presents the unfolding events of the day, develops new audio-visual formats and gets distributed through local TV as well as via V2V-distribution on the net.
A MAP AND NOT A TRACING
Special attention will be given to the mapping of one of the most advanced surveillance systems that controls the flows of people, material and immaterial goods. Tactical sea, air and land based systems will be deployed and operated as a means of tactical civil counter reconnaissance.
FORTRESSES OF EUROPE
Climax and turning point will be the celebration of freedom of movement and knowledge around solstice, in the shortest night of the year, from June 23th to 24th: Remote events will be organized on a transversal line that crosses Europe from Andalucia to Latvia.
Between the opening on June 18th on the Alameda of Tarifa and the closing event on June 26th in the castle of Tarifa various workshops, shows and activities will happen in Tangiers, Morocco.
FADAIAT*// BORDERLINE ACADEMY is a collaboration between: hackitectura,
Indymedia Estrecho, D-A-S-H, KEIN.ORG, Delegacion de Cultura – Ayuntamiento de Tarifa, Entrinsito, International Festival (IF), Makrolab, Pact Systems, pirate cinema, Unfriendly-Takeover, frassanito-network, Kingdom of Piracy (KOP), Engage! Tactical Media and many others.
FADAIAT*// BORDERLINE ACADEMY is a follow-up event of Transacciones / fadaiat in June 2004, NEURO–networking europe in February 2004, and makeworlds in October 2001.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PARTICIPATION AND CONTACT:
(2) LOOKING BACK: FADAIAT 2004
The monstrous Sacred Heart of Jesus statue has turned its back to the european continent, as if it wants to pay all attention to the sea. A fresh breeze is coming up, as every evening in Tarifa. A glaring red towboat of the coastguards, flanked by a speedboat of the Guardia Civil, is slowly appearing behind the holy statue, that is enthroning above the water on the very end of the breakwater wall in its sulcated robe. On the tow line of the two boats is a dinghy, that has obviously rousen the border guards. On board are about 50 passengers, whose trip has come to an end for now.
The high season has started in Andalusia. Every night hundreds of illegal immigrants are starting out from Marocco to Spain, across the sea, that is reasonably calm at this time. Only 29 kilometers is the distance from Tanger in the north of Marocco to Tarifa, the most southern point of Europe, at the outermost end of the iberian peninsula.
The people that live here, are simply calling the straits of Gibraltar “Estrecho”, the narrows. For ten years, when the Spanish state has joined the Schengen agreement, the area around Tarifa has systematically been upgraded to one of the best controlled borders of the world. The effects are almost not identifiable at the first sight, but are at the same time even more disturbing: nowhere is the banality of the border more obvious than here. In the “capital of winds” as the windsurfing paradies Tarifa is called, the processing of waves of illegal immigrants is a business as usual, besides tuna fishing and exalted tourism.
While the refugees, that are being taking into custody by the coastguards, are going ashore, they are already awaited: a prisoner transport van of the paramilitary Guardia Civil, police and coastguards, as well as employees of the red cross, some journalists and three TV teams are standing ready-to-receive at the Sacred Heart of Jesus mole, the harbour fortification in the back of the homonymous monument.
Everything that follows now is routine: the illegal immigrants are being transported to the main quarter of the Guardia Civil in order to assert their identity and origin. After that they are being transferred to a first admission camp on a small island in front of Tarifa and afterwards to the deportation prison in the ferry harbour in Algeciras, 20 kilometers distant. “Whoever is coming from Marocco, or from a country like Nigeria, where the spanish state is having a treaty of withdrawal, will immediatly be deported to Marocco” says Nico Scuglia, from the social forum in Malaga. The young activist, originating from Argentina, is working for years in different networks in the topic of migration.
In summer 2001 Scuglia had organised a “noborder” action camp, right here on the beach. Three years later he is here again. In the old castle of Tarifa an unusual crowd is meeting for an even more unusual event: human rights activists, union organisors, migration experts from all over the Spanish state and different parts of Marocco have occupied these old ruins from the tenth century together with artists, filmmakers and net-activists for a phenomenal experiment in terms of transnational networking.
The castle, that had been hard-fought by the Spanish and the Moors for centuries, that was built by the caliph Abderram=E1n III on the remains of a roman military camp and that couldn’t ever be captured by Napoleon, is now a stage for a new kind of civil disobedience in the age of new media and new migration movements. For three days, “Transacciones/Fadaiat” was trying to map, analyse undermine and cross the border, that is permanently present up here on the rock, – with all means of communication possible.
In the small chapel of the fortress squatters from Madrid discuss with Maroccon Indymedia activists and with socilogists, that are researching the shift of the border towards the south. Local refugee supporters are exchanging with womens rights activists from Larache, with community representatives from the Rif-mountains, with spokespersons from the movement of the unemployed as well as with labour leaders from the greenhouse industries in Almeira. Radio and filmmakers are documenting, mixing, editing and sending their conference contributions in the internet. As soon as it gets dark outside, the DJ’s and VJ’s, musicians and performance artists take the command over the three inner wards.
The climax of the spectacle is a video conference via a wireless connection from Tarifa to Tanger, that was accomplished by the netactivists through an extra strong antenna. The small transmitting mast, that only got the official administrative permission the day before, is standing on the heighest of the four towers of the fortress and looks more like a fan. Long wires are meandering around the castle walls, run across the narrow stairways and historic castle rooms, in which the activists go into a huddle behind the screens.
The radar of the coast guards and the aircraft-carriers, that patrol in the geostrategically important straits, is continuously distracting the reception and so the pictures from the university of tanger and from the small coffee house in the old town keep collapsing after a short time; but Jose Perez de Lama, alias Osfa, who is one of the organisors of the event, is satisfied. He sees this way of low-tech activism above all as a symbol: “We want to demonstrate how closely the topics freedom of communication and freedom of movement are related nowadays.”
The exposed geographical location of Tarifa seems to be the reason why contradictions don’t just collide abruptly, but why also theses, that may sound abstract at other locations, become obviously clear here. Where military, paramilitary and civil regimes of control are overlapping with situations of economical exploitation, where tremendous legal and illegal flows of traffic have to be managed and every square centimeter is surveilled around-the-clock, the special meaning of networked communication technologies becomes obvious. But what if they don’t only play a major role in constraining freedom of movement, but also in regaining it?
“We have waited for five days on the Maroccon coast, without having something to drink nor to eat. At 2 o’ clock in the morning we entered the boat. The crossing to spain took us 13 hours. The steermen were specialists. May be that’s why we spend so much time on the water. We had to ship around warships – at night around Maroccon ones, during the day around Spanish ones. But as soon as we arrived we’ve already been expected by the Guardia Civil.
Right in the middle of the conference the news arrive, that only some kilometers outside of Tarifa three refugee boats have landed in the military area. One of the refugees is Moussa, whom the authorities will later name John and impute a liberian nationality on him, even though he doesn’t speak a single word of English, but so he can be deported back immediatly. Surprisingly, Moussa is being released after two days in the deportation camp, because he has contact to one of the representatives of the local refugee support network, that was negotiating about the release of Moussa with the authorities for the two days.
“Moussa had unified the refugees that came from countries, where only few people were present, who had been more or less by themselves and in a very difficult situation, since they have no community”, says Nico Scuglia. Still in Marocco, in the clandestine camps, in which the refugees are waiting up to months for a chance to cross, communication structures play a decisive role. Usually only larger communities are able to organise all necessary infrastructure like mobil phones, addresses and contacts to the different networks necessary.
From this background, Scuglia is especially glad about the response that the conference has created on the other side of the straits, where mobile phones or even internet is far from being a matter of course. Next year the activists from Al-Jwarezmi from Marocco want to continue the event in Larache the other way around.
Also Osfa from Sevilla sees the greates challenge in trying not to waste a political project like “Transacciones/Fadaiat” in platitudinous activism or fast media effects, but to take on the complexity of a postmodern borderregime. “In the straits not only the military and the economical streams of the empire are crossing each other, they are also confronted with the selforganised movements of a multitude, that is networking beyond any border.”
Nevertheless- at the end of the conference a sponteneous old-school demonstration evolves: Just when the prisoner transport van of the Guardia Civil is trying to bring the refugees, that they captured during the day, off of the harbour mole, the conference participants rush out of the fortress and block the evacuation of the refugees for half an hour. But the balance of power is characteristic: six activists are barricading the harbour gate with a long banner, whereas another dozen of activists is surrounding them on the street with videocameras in theis hands.
At this moment Moussa is already in the deportation prison Algeciras, 20 kilometers away: Together with 16 other people in one dirty room, in which simple benches substitute beds and blankets. After the ordeal of the crossing he could also not find any sleep in his first night in Europe; only on the second day in prison they received a small piece of cake to eat and a cup of coffee. He doesn’t understand the world anymore and is at the same time pointing out the most blatant contradiction: “If they would want to obstruct the way for us, they should then at least do so, so we know right from the beginning, that the borders are closed.”
In the end, this is the hypocritical dimension of the postmodern border regime, that is pretending to manage migration but is only turning it into illegal migration, making it more difficult, more expensive and more dangerous, but never prevent people from migrating. No matter if at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue or anywhere else around Europe.
* Fada’iyyat or FADAIAT (arabic): literally “through spaces” — “FADAIAT” means also “space-ships” or rather “space-clearing engines”. According to Fatema Mernissi “FADAIAT” is the name in Arabic for satellite TV.