On my way to Ljubljana and Zagreb
Place: A bus between Paris and Milan
Date: May 2-3, 2018
Travel time: 12 hours
Reading time: 4 minutes
Pardon my French but this has to get off my chest. Fuck Macron! is what I was thinking all the way between Paris and Milan, all night long, for twelve long hours. Fuck Macron! Because I had to spend the whole night in a bus instead of the night train between Paris and Venice. Fuck Macron! Because he refuses to negotiate with the striking railroad workers. Fuck Macron! Because he prefers to meet Trump while the whole world is watching, instead of being with his own people. Fuck Macron! For taking the next step towards a privatization of the SNCF, the French national railway company. Fuck Macron! For giving tax cuts to those who don’t need it while cutting on the salaries of the cheminots. Fuck Macron! For his merciless power politics.
Looking through the window of the bus driving through Paris, fifty years after May ’68, I see slogans: Le gouvernement dicte à tort (whereas dicte à tort, giving the wrong prescription, sounds of course as dictator). I see graffiti in solidarity with the zadistes (from ZAD: Zone à Defendre, the different movements throughout France of activists and squatters against the neoliberal globalisation). I see the tents of sans papiers and other migrants under the bridges. I see an Uber eats on a bike for a late delivery. I see an Easyjet plane taking off into the night from Orly airport.
Where are my thoughts on the bus leaving Paris? With my sister whom I left in a Belgian hospital right before I left, waiting for a place in another hospital for more accurate help. With all the other people – friends, family, colleagues – taking care of their family, siblings, kin. With the question: where is politics? With the question: what happens to solidarity? With the 24.300 people who, just a few days ago, collected 907.000 euro in solidarity with the striking railroad workers. With me accepting this uncomfortable journey by bus and a delay of 170 minutes upon arrival in the station of Milan for my train to Venice in solidarity with the strikers.
What does this have to do with ecology? I hear you think. Everything. Ecology means to care for your environment. That includes not only nature, but also culture – society, that is. Not only animals and trees, but also people. Not only what we do, but also what we think. It means to care about today, about our past and about our future.
You cannot win an election on climate change. You cannot win an election with the problems of another: of a future generation, of my sister, of striking railroad workers.
What does this have to do with art? Everything. This shitty situation on this fucking bus makes me think: what am I doing here? Why am I here and not with my sister? Why did I accept to go on this Grand Tour? It is the question that I hear from so many other people working in the arts: what am I doing? What can I do? What can art do?
My newly made friends from Beton Ltd. in Ljubljana gave me a name for that: pseudo-activity. They got it from their national philosopher Slavoj Žižek. It is not being passive, not being active, but something in between. It is what you do when you are tired and you don’t want to go to sleep. In Beckett’s words (also via Beton Ltd.): I must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on. But more about that later. That: what makes this Grand Tour always again worth doing. For now: Fuck Macron!