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Temporary Autonomous Arts celebrates 20th anniversary

This weekend the Temporary Autonomous Arts festival squatted a row of derelict buildings in North London to celebrate 20 years of creative requisitioning of disused spaces. The event ran over 3 evenings from last Thursday to the wee late hours of Sunday, and was an open space for all artists to participate and display their works, championing a DIY or die, anticapitalist aesthetic and approach. Attended by hundreds, the programme featured spoken word and performative onstage carnage. There were live shows from Agents of Lexicon, Hot Dog Grrrl and the Sesame Seed Buns, anarchopunk poetry from George F, 2-bit rave from Killdren and Kidziku’s fuzz-bass screamo, a cabaret featuring genderfuck drag from Jizmik Hunt and many more, with the overall culture being explicitly queer, trans-allied and anti-TERF. The works of dozens of artists such as the Nave, oneslutriot, caineruable, Born In Dust amongst many successfully transformed a gutted and collapsing row of buildings into an interactive smorgasbord of visual delights for the scores of delighted revellers who attended. The first major squatted event in London post-COVID besides raves and parties, the TAA represents a cross-over point for squatters, artists and others to reunite and reignite their passion for creative destruction and mutual co-operation under the principle of “don’t be a DICK” – give people the benefit of doubt when it comes to their boundaries, respect other people’s opinions”. The atmosphere was one of carnivalistic return with attendees travelling from across the UK and internationally from the autonomous scene of Europe. The corridors were jam-packed with people who often had not seen one another for years at a time, giving the event the feel of a grand reunion of comrades.

In the organisers own words:

“TAA is an underground festival of creativity that has been taking over venues across the UK since 2001. It was an initiative by Random Artists to use free-party tactics to open temporary arts and social spaces in occupied and often derelict buildings.

TAA exhibitions are creative spaces that are organised and constructed by the artists themselves. They operate under an open-access policy, meaning everyone is free to exhibit their work or perform.

Time-honoured art forms sit comfortably amongst digital work, sculptures, installations, films, performance and music. We encourage artists and audience to find their own level of creative involvement and believe that all of our voices are equally important.

This not only opens the doors to a no-cost space to exhibit within but also encourages first-timers and the artist within us all. All contributions are welcome and there is no celebrity here – our aim is to break free of the sterile nature of traditional galleries and instead create a space which removes barriers between art, artist and audience.”

In previous years the TAA has also taken place in other parts of the UK, and is a shining example of a longstanding tradition of anarchist-organised arts projects that form the backbone of the calendar of our autonomous culture, including the nationwide occurances of anarchist bookfairs, the Manchester-based Persons Unknown Festival, punk feminist group the LAD$ collective and the use of art, music and installations as symbols of the tactic of ‘party as protest’ that have become commonplace tools of more liberal movements such as Extinction Rebellion. The TAA is our homegrown version of radical arts movements that exist globally, such as the Crack! Festival at Forte Prenestino in Rome, or the yearly parties that took place for ADM’s birthdays before it’s eviction in 2019.

Welcome back Temporary Autonomous Arts – not so temporary after all!

Photos courtesy of Janey and Guy Smallman

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