The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii) has brought artists and activists together to co-design and deploy forms of creative disobedience since 2004. Consensus decision making and assembling is at the heart of this process, which is always entangled with radical movements and yet also has a foot in cultural institutions. Whether it was co-organising the horizontal processes of Climate Camps, transforming theatre stages into meetings to organise disobedience, facilitating the mass talk shops at Occupy London or at the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, coordinating shared life and struggle against an airport and its world – the Labofii has tasted many flavours of assembling. This talk/film explores Labofii’s experience of these different contexts and ask how can artists use assemblies in the art world without becoming extractivist and loosing the powerful potential of reciprocal relationships to activist movements.
Infamous for fermenting mass disobedience on bicycles during Copenhagen’s UN climate Summit, touring the UK recruiting a rebel clown army, building an illegal lighthouse on the site of an airport control tower, launching a rebel raft regatta to shut down a coal fired power station and refusing to be censored by London’s Tate Modern museum, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination has been walking on the tightrope between art and activism since 2004. They bring together artists and activists to co-design and deploy creative forms of direct-action, which aim to be as joyful as they are politically effective. Creation and resistance, protest and proposition are the entwined DNA strands of their practice. Whether training folk or co-organising actions, at the heart of everything the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination does are horizontal ways of relating and organising themselves.
Isabelle Fremeaux is an educator, facilitator and author. She was a lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College-University, London. (2001-2011) before deserting the academy to apply herself to movement building. She co-authored/directed the film/book Les Sentiers de L’utopie (La Decouverte, 2010) and most recently We Are Nature Defending Itself: Entangling art, activism and autonomous zones (Pluto/Vagabonds, 2021) with Jay Jordan.
Jay Jordan is an art activist, author, part time sex worker, and full time trouble maker labelled a “domestic extremist” by the UK police, and “a magician of rebellion” by the French press. Jay Jordan has spent three decades applying what he learnt from theatre and performance art to direct action. They founded the direct action groups Reclaim the Streets and the Clown Army, worked as a cinematographer for Naomi Klein’s The Take, co-edited the book We Are Everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism (Verso 2004) and lecturers in theatre and fine art.
Isabelle Fremeaux and John Jordan inhabit the liberated territory of the ZAD in Notre-dame-des-Landes, a rebel territory that fought off a climate wrecking airport project.