When they come in the morning
On Sunday 17th of May 2020, at 4 am in the morning, on the last day before the lifting of a nationwide curfew and ban on group gatherings as a response to Covid-19, dozens of unidentified police enter the building of “National Theatre of Albania”, beat and arrest activists and citizens that were inside, to quickly pave the way to a bulldozer that teared down the building until the early morning hours. The 80 year old historic building was occupied for 27 months by artists and activists, as a resistance towards its demolition plans from the government of Albania.
Bulldozers came to existence as a new technology in farms for ploughing. A bull-dose meant a large dose, effective for a bull, of any sort of medicine or punishment. Through time its meaning changed to imply intimidation by violence and to then finally refer to the brutally used force to push through any kind of obstacle. The machine is a descendant of the plows that colonial settlers and western expansionists used to grade land for subsistence and development. The efforts of perfecting the machine, came parallel to the modernisation of agriculture. Over time it has been modified to produce new types of machines, to facilitate and fasten their tasks as earthmoving apparatuses- exercised in deforestation, ground levelling, road carving and earthmoving. Armoured bulldozers are used for military purposes, first applied during WWII and its aftermath transformed the machine from a wartime weapon into an instrument of postwar planning; toppling trees, clearing fields and levelling hills at an unprecedented pace and scale, rehearsing large-scale clearance practices, to create space for new (modern) construction in the quest for progress.
Violence on commons
Clearance is the first step in most construction projects. A culture of clearance has penetrated into the public narrative of post socialists countries in Eastern Europe, as a means to catch up with the West and the idea of progress as Western construct. Commons are inextricably linked to specific systems of exploitation. The aspiration for progress is exploitative. It appropriates our surroundings and inheritance regardless of the consequences. The bulldozer as a device for material destruction is a significant tool of neoliberalism ‘s brutal wave of privatisation and dispossession of commons; this machine embodies the violent order enforced from above. In this video essay these entanglements are investigated through the lens of the machine that epitomizes progress- the bulldozer- and the claims made on behalf of this transformative technology. Using the bulldozer as the primary object of inquiry, the video addresses how under the grand narrative of (western constructed notion of) modernity, colonial definitions and practices are still implemented and domesticized in the exploitation of commons
This project was made possible
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