Cracking the Movement - Squatting beyond the media - CONTENTS


by Mik Ezdanitoff, Fashion Philosopher

The squatters' movement, for me as an outsider, formed an intense
yet chaotic united front of people among whom no disparities
existed. This uniform solidarity was more than just a
trompe-l'oeil-effect caused by the equalizing visual overkill which
an intently riotous mass or an enthusiastic horde rocking by
creates. It always had to do with the fact that they actually looked
the same.

The clothing of the movement looked sexless (thus »masculine«),
dirty and ripped. There were hard patches and nasty stains on it,
PLO shawls, thick mountain shoes and motorcycle jackets went with
it, and it was complemented by a strong-smelling blend of gasoline,
sweat and beer traces. Except for the short, black, real leather
jackets, the squatters' dress did not distinguish itself from the
big-city street fashion of drug addicts and alcoholics. Just as the
outfit of wandering junkies and drunks, through falling and getting
up from obstacles like the gutter, acquires just that extra touch
whereby it differs from the by-the-kilo fashion of the welfare-case
lumpenvolk(ital.), so the squatters' clothing acquired its antisocial
aura simply by going out squatting. Whichever parts the
brought-from-home basis collection was assembled out of, through
DIY, pulling, pushing, lugging and the squatters' slapstick and art, it
was unavoidably transformed into a complete squat wardrobe.

Squat dress resembled the work clothes of miners, chimney sweeps and
tanker cleaners. It looked at least as rough and filthy, only it
couldn't be traded in after work for a designer sweat suit. Because
the movement was against social power strategies, like the division
between the boss' time and free time. There were no fixed working
hours, or something like that.

Squat dress also borrowed something from survival equipment. It too
was all-purpose clothing, could stand a skirmish, was designed for
every atmospheric fluctuation and was non-seasonal. While the survival
uniform actually sets out to be able to stand a confrontation with
the elements of wild nature, squatters' dress was intended to
withstand the material dialogue with the elements of big city power
culture in a reasonable way. During the disinterested staking of
one's own body and the throwing of household articles, the displacement
of furniture from the street and the lighting up of homemade projects,
the heavily falling-to-pieces and many-layered squatters' clothing
offered direct protection against the city's obtrusive powers.

Although squat dress was from the street and afforded one an
identity, it did not become a fashion. It differed in this way from
punk attire and the working-class look. Because the last two made up
a part of squat dress, we can talk of some scene formation
inside the movement. Thus the self-conscious corduroy jacket of the
public park service could become an anti-society garment. Fashion is
that which can be bought in clothing stores. Where fashion always
socializes, squat dress was not available in stores, and was
thus antisocial. It hung nowhere, lay nowhere, but sat in garbage
cans. It demonstrated besides a maximum of bourgeois impropriety,
and this free of charge at the cost of the taxpayers' community. Squat 
dress was more than action clothing; it was itself an action.

If squat dress wasn't social, what was it? With its dark looks it
brought to mind the national-socialist fashion hues. Nevertheless, the
movement attached no value to its dress and, as I see it, dissociated
from it in cases of panic, while the fascist suit is a strictly
personal, symbol-plastered parade costume from which separation is
psychologically difficult.

ADILKNO's Movement Teachings makes no attempt to legitimatize
crowd spectacles after the fact by giving them a social twist.
Neither is it a history book, though it's chock full of bizarre and
absurd anecdotes; it is above all a textbook in which the concepts
of mass and movement are set against each other chapter by chapter
according to the method of applied casuistry. The Teachings are
thus prevented from turning into social therapy. This is also how
they have escaped being theoretical acrobatics. The theory,
the Movement Teachings, is radically raked away and swept together in
the opening and closing chapters. What remains of theory in the
chapters in between is the manner in which certain events are or are
not described, and the connections between the different
descriptions. Through this »absence« of theory the engrossing stories
which thus arise achieve a remarkable clarity. At the same time the
Movement Teachings are distinguished by a swift pace. They produce a
racket bringing to mind the bells and whistles of the squatters' acid
house parties, while in contrast the new social theory prefers the
silence of the funeral chamber. The smoke which the Movement Teachings
(like any good theory) expel smells not of incense, myrrh and gold
dust, but of tear gas, tires and mattresses. The smoke of the movement
is not a cloud masking its shortcomings, but a signal that something's
going on. And we are there.

Ulrum, January 1990