Space Hijackers

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A reveler urges silence on one of the Space Hijacker's Circle line parties on the London Underground on March 14, 2003. The tactic for keeping the party unnoticed by the authorities was to keep quiet while the train was in the stations. The first Space Hijackers Circle Line Party took place on March 10th 1999.

The Space Hijackers is a group originating in the United Kingdom that defines itself as "an international band of anarchitects who battle to save our streets, towns and cities from the evils of urban planners, architects, multinationals and other hoodlums". Time Out magazine has described the group as "an inventive and subversive group of London ‘Anarchitects’ who specialise in reclaiming public spaces – usually without permission."[1]

The group's activities have included "guerrilla benching"[2] — restoring benches that had been recently removed and bolting them to the ground — organising a midnight game of cricket in the centre of the City of London financial district, and satirising the glossy architects' drawings that are displayed on the perimeter of luxury apartments by depicting children’s playgrounds and other projects they believe to be actually desirable.[1] Many of these activities aim to bring to people's attention the role which corporations play in society in a different light.[3]

Purpose[edit]

Space Hijacking is mental graffiti, designed to change how the space is perceived and take some of the power away from the people who own or design the space.

—Space Hijacker Agent Bristly Pioneer[4]

The Space Hijackers exist mainly to change the public's perception of spaces it regularly uses, mainly by staging unexpected events. Their explicit objective is "to effect and change the physical space of architecture", and, eschewing violent protest and other forms of transparent direct action, their methods aim "to invade and re-brand corporate space".[5] They believe that the use of physical space is becoming more and more politicised, and thus in order to break apart from that politicisation, they stage events that are typically 'unusual' for that particular space, 'hijacking' it and hoping to change people's perception of the use of that space forever. They believe that increasing politicisation usually leads to increased subordination and discrimination and other forms of domination and control and so Space Hijackers claim to seek to break down and deconstruct society's notions of space. They seek to effect this by attempting to undermine the authority of the owner's "text", confusing and re-contextualising it and thereby making apparent the possibility of an alternative future.[5] Protests tend to be non-violent and Space Hijacker projects usually involved a good sense of fun.[6] Protest strategy includes involving passers-by.

The Space Hijackers have many contacts with other groups, and involve themselves with all sorts, including but not limited to Critical Mass, Indymedia, Rhythms of Resistance samba band, free media collective iconscious, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping and evoLhypergrapHyCx. The Hijackers pulled several of these groups together in Anarchitecture Week 2005, a week of anti-building related activities in response to, and hosted at the same time as Architecture Week.

Projects[edit]

Formed in 1999, their first major action was the Circle Line Party - a party on London Underground's Circle Line which attracted around 150 people armed with sound systems, disco lights and bars all disguised as luggage.[6]

We're a bunch of fuck-wits, really. So if we can do this, then you can.

–Agent Robin, quoted in Red Pepper, May 2004 edition.[7]

If you don't look like your average protester, there's less of a barrier to break down.

–Agent Bristly Pioneer, quoted in The Observer, Jan 2008 edition.[8]

Projects of the Space Hijackers have included the following:

G-20 London Summit[edit]

During the 2009 G-20 demonstrations in London, members of the Space Hijackers protest group[12][13][14] drove their Alvis Saracen armoured personnel carrier (known to them as "the tank") into the City of London[15] and parked it outside the Royal Bank of Scotland in Bishopsgate.[15] The Saracen, which had been painted bright blue with black and white chequer stripes in a mock police livery, was equipped with CCTV[12] and marked "RIOT" (but not "police"). The group claimed[citation needed] to be there to protect the RBS building from "bad" demonstrators, although the police declined their assistance. Instead, the vehicle was searched and police questioned the protestors, who were dressed in plain blue overalls and helmets. Eleven Hijackers were arrested[13][14] and charged on two counts of impersonating police officers. On 27 January 2010, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges against the Space Hijackers because there was "not enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction".[16]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "London's secret scenes". Features. Time Out. p. 12. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  2. ^ Sawyer, Patrick. "Guerilla gardeners stage a sit-down protest", Evening Standard, 2007-04-04. Accessed 2008-01-10.
  3. ^ Hari, Johann (2002-06-22). "How to beat the adman at his own game". World Affairs. New Statesman. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  4. ^ Albert, Saul (March 2002). "Graffitiing the Brainspace". Mute Magazine. 
  5. ^ a b Richardson, Joanne (2004). Anarchitexts. Brooklyn: Autonomedia. ISBN 978-1-57027-142-7. 
  6. ^ a b Aitch, Iain (August 2001). "Mind The Reality Gap". Bizarre (49). 
  7. ^ "Creative occupation ", Red Pepper, May 2004. Retrieved 2008-01-10
  8. ^ "[1]", The Observer, Jan 2008 .
  9. ^ "Mental Environment Index". Adbusters (38). October 2001. 
  10. ^ Computer Arts Projects Issue 99. Accessed 2008-01-10.
  11. ^ http://www.spacehijackers.co.uk/html/projects/dsei07/index.html
  12. ^ a b http://london.indymedia.org.uk/articles/956
  13. ^ a b Weaver, Matthew (2009-04-01). "G20 summit and protests: live blog". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  14. ^ a b BBC News: "G20 call for action amid protests"
  15. ^ a b BBC News video of Saracen outside RBS (no commentary) (1 April 2009)
  16. ^ http://www.standard.co.uk/news/g20-bra-girl-charged-for-posing-as-a-police-officer-6790841.html

External links[edit]