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Games without Borders #2 – Editorial

Issue #2 of JSF magazine gathers a series of contributions under the title “practices of resistance and spaces of invention”.  2011 was a year which triggered our imagination with the occupation of the squares in many countries. Some of those involved in producing issue #2 happened to pass by Zuccotti Park; some were involved in the Rossio encampment in Lisbon. 2011 opened up an imaginary space for a lot of people, whether they happened to be physically present in the occupations or not. Many questions arose in the months following the season of the occupations. The squares were being evicted one after the other; in Europe ravaging austerity politics and the power connection of the Troika, in addition to the complicity of national liberal governments, were seemingly untouchable, a state of affairs we are still dealing with today. In 2012 we decided to produce another irregular number of the magazine because we had issues and experiences we wanted to write about and people and projects we had encountered in the period that followed the 2011 uprisings. 

The subtitle of this issue works both ways: practices of resistance and spaces of invention, practices of invention and spaces of resistance. Even if we think in terms of productive power relations, we still use the word resistance in reference to those practices and spaces that emerge in moments of antagonist tension: e.g., when measures imposed by governmental institutions and the lack of perspectives for the future are individually and collectively felt as being oppressive. People are fighting today against growing poverty, against mutating forms of capitalist exploitation disguised and administered under the label of “austerity politics” in Europe and elsewhere. But to resist – r/esistere in a somewhat fictional etymology – also means to invent new modes of existence. To invent is not to create something out of nothing, but to aggregate forces that were already present – the invention in this sense is a recomposition of forces.

This issue is being published several years after JSF #1, which dealt with the construction of a European identity based upon an “internal” image of competing nations (for which stands the first live trans-European broadcasting show Jeux Sans Frontières) and an “external” strategy based on exclusion and the militarization of frontiers. “Europe” designates here a geopolitical region with restricted access, militarized and digitized frontiers that produce inequalities and modulations between their more or less permanent or mobile inhabitants. This project of Europe makes acceptable the growing number of people dying in the Mediterranean Sea every day, those courageous people who are navigating unreliable means of transportation on what Ana Bigotte Vieira, inspired by Indymedia Estrecho de Gibraltar/ FADAIAT activists in JSF #1, called “a solid sea”. This Europe, that largely defines itself through exclusion, was what we focused on in JSF #1. Today, different people and projects from various parts of Europe are trying to define or redefine what Europe could mean in an emancipatory sense and imagined “from below.” JSF, with its production base in Europe attempts to contribute to this process. 

In JSF #2 we decided to speak about other realities and imaginary zones, moments and desires that emerge when people do not accept the state of things, such as the way late capitalism and current neoliberal politics work and the ways in which we function within that framework. Moments of rupture can emerge everywhere and practices of resistance spread beyond national frontiers. The texts here were written between 2012 and 2014. Considering the local differences – with the authors writing from places as different as Morocco, Brazil or Greece – we may try to ask ourselves how and where those practices of resistance might resonate, how they can inspire new ways of coming together within the perspective of global anti-capitalist social movements. 

Issue #2 is structured in three sections, each section is preceded by an introductory text written by one or several of the JSF editors. The first section is subdivided into two groups, and it contains the only two texts in the magazine that were already published elsewhere; Judith Butler’s “So, what are the demands?” written for Tidal magazine and Amador Fernández-Savater’s “Strength and Power”, which was first published in Guerilla Translation and later in openDemocracy. We met Amador in Munich in 2013 at an event within the Spielart performance festival called “Wake up! Assembly for a different Europe”. He struck us with his enthusiastic and intelligent comments on the Spanish 15M movement and we asked him to contribute. All the texts published here have been written by friends or people we have personally met, by people we think have interesting things to say, and who are more or less from “our generation”. The text by Judith Butler in this sense is an exception. We decided to publish this text here because we think it touches upon important questions coming up in regards to new forms of political articulation, forms of articulation which are not based on demands but by the spreading of activist practices and new forms of living together as we could observe in the occupy movement. 

The second section contains the latest text, written by Arnoldas Stramskas in 2014, describing a neighborhood project in Vilnius. It shows very well that a space of invention may not primarily be an architectonic space, but more an imaginary space that is created by people meeting and building relations. The kiosk in question seems to be so small that there is little to do inside, things happen by people gathering around and in front of it. In another sense the people from Macao in Milan occupied and opened up not only a huge private building formerly owned by the corrupt real estate giant Salvatore Ligresti, but also, and significantly, an imaginary space. They describe the occupation of Torre Galfa, an empty skyscraper, in 2012 as a symbolic action. In the meantime Macao has changed location. Today it is one of several very interesting projects which can be thought of as new kinds of autonomous cultural institutions existing in various Italian cities. Within these spaces important and urgent questions are touched upon, such as the future of cultural production, proposals to find ways of working beyond the mutual exploitation of precarious workers in the cultural field, e.g. the common coin project currently being developed at Macao.

The third section includes the story of another occupied cultural institution in Greece; the Embros Theater, which, after multiple eviction efforts this summer, has finally and sadly been evicted. Although some contributions, like the one on Embros, have been written some time ago, and some things have changed, we think it’s important to speak about those places and experiences and we think that the texts gathered here touch upon questions that still concern us. The “class struggle from above”, perpetuated by austerity politics, is going on to destroy Europe’s social security systems, and tents have recently reappeared in Hong Kong. As Sandro Mezzadra writes in his text on Kobanê “[i]n Rojava we must recognize the links with our recent history; we must be ready to hear echoes of Seattle, of Genoa, of the Zapatistas. Because those echoes exist. And more than anything we must see the thread that connects and prolongs the 2011 uprisings in the Maghreb and Mashreq, that goes through the Spanish 15M and Occupy, through the Brazilian and Turkish upheavals last year — this thread runs now along the streets of Kobanê and Rojava.”

JSF is not only a magazine, but a platform that works between different media and practices, sometimes undertaking curatorial work, organizing film screenings or discussions in art spaces, doing performances or performative walks – whatever the open collective decides to do in a given moment, responding to a specific place and situation. In parallel to the production of the magazine, we have produced a series of events that can be seen on the website One reason for producing a print magazine is to be able to physically take it to different places and use it to trigger further discussion. An important event (for us) that we produced was an independent publishers book fair that was held in Lisbon in September 2013. We understood the book fair as a kind of practical meta-reflection on the process of producing JSF #2 and on the practice of independent publishing in general. Calling the fair: “Books as spaces of resistance” was a way of making a statement at a time when numerous important bookstores – and with them places that distributed independent publishers – disappeared in Lisbon because of the famous “crisis”. Twenty publishers were present and we invited ten artists to contribute to the book fair with performances and installations. It is our opinion that resistance does not stop at the borders of disciplines and that it invents its own means and methods of collaboration. Art in our opinion is an important tool.  

As the book fair comprised part of the production process of JSF #2, an impression of it in pictures and text is provided in the form of the poster insert within this issue.  Like many other similar projects, JSF operates as a fragile and precarious structure. On a local level, in Lisbon, JSF sometimes connects and often dissolves into other “groups” and projects. More than creating an everlasting name or structure, the affects and network we create and maintain – be it planning things or spending time together, speaking about ideas and experiences, creating a project to which we can invite people we think are great – are important to us. In this sense, we would like to thank all the contributors, their work is of great value to us and we hope our enthusiasm for both the texts and the experiences and people they describe can be transported somehow to the readers.  

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