• Residency 2016-2017
  • political struggle
  • clandestinity



The artist Paloma Polo, based at Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers since 2016 as part of her residency, has conducted theoretical and practical research on the notion of clandestinity, starting from the value that this notion encompasses in anti-franquist communist history (in relation to a political exile) to the conditions in which a large number of refugees are confined today.

Through her project Classes de Lutte, Paloma Polo intends to take part in writing a missing history of Spain and its resistance, within which there are still significant stigmas. To this end, drawing on her numerous meetings with actors, theorists, practitioners and associations who work for the protection and inclusion of immigrants, Paloma Polo starts an open school connecting these various affected communities.

The Classes de Lutte are an invitation to share activist and alternative forms of knowledge. Working from the postulate that these are not easy to pass on, the Classes de Lutte encounters are constructed in such a way as to open up breaches receptive to individual or shared messages and exchanges of experiences. By "forms of knowledge" we very broadly mean what emerges from commitment: what has been tested out, heard, read and seen individually or collectively as part of a mobilisation of the political ethos.

Rendering these exchanges public by opening them up to all thus seems to us a way of making visible, challenging and combating state injustice. Anyone feeling inclined to pass on what they know – migrants, activists, unionists, researchers, lawyers, students, artists and everybody who experiments and invents in the course of struggles – is invited to come along and have their say at activist seminars, and to contribute to these free sharing spaces.

As part of the underlying dynamic of Paloma Polo's practice – her work regularly takes the form of a verification and necessary rewriting of history as a method for understanding and actively responding to the present day and our contemporary epoch – the Classes de Lutte project allows this Spanish artist, currently in residence at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, to pursue a problematising of contemporary situations as a means of revealing the state of the political in thought and action.

Introduced at Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers in the context of its residency scheme, these Classes de Lutte can be filmed if those involved agree; the main objective being to document the forms taken by the reinvention of the thinking behind contemporary political acts.




                                           How can you learn to get by
                                           in this shit world?


Politics, politics, when do you come about?

Our starting point is the idea that politics is rare and precarious. It's an ad hoc act of thinking. Today ordinary, elementary acts can be political. A blanket given to someone sleeping in the street ends up ripped off him by the forces of law and order and thrown into a municipal dumpster. Helping undocumented migrants has been criminalised. Demonstrations are banned right and left and chanted slogans are drowned out by the whomp of flash-balls. Does contemporary politics surface in the urgency of everyday survival or in our search for the event that triggers the spark of impeachment?

Politics, politics, where are you?

Politics does not exist in parliament or in governing bodies. Or in the moribund thinking of parties or movements for social change. Which means it is now outside the decision-making apparatus and functioning in clandestine forms, in the interstices of the world we live in. It is in people's heads. It is in the singularity of individual acts. Sometimes these subjectivities meet, interact and clear the way for political thought. Where are the political loci, and how are they to be constructed from here on in?

Politics, politics, who are you?

Politics is not an object, is not an embodiment, and designates nothing. It is neither the state nor the revolution. It is not some distant horizon to be talked about, or to be dissected like a lab rat by scientists wielding conceptual scalpels in search of what's inside. Politics is alive, it's subject and action. It is not a critical construct that neutralises the fact of the act.

Politics, politics, what are you saying?

So Marx's maxim springs to mind: in the struggle we have nothing to lose but our chains. But have we got what it takes to unlock the handcuffs capitalism has clamped on our wrists? Now, maybe more than ever, we live in fear of losing what we do not have. We're aware of one thing: of being stuck in the mire of more and more rhetoric, more and more analyses that whirl, clash and echo, leaving us gasping and dazed.

Politics, politics, what are you doing?

Is it a wish for another possible world that eclipses our thinking about politics? We're not wondering how another world can be possible, but how we can make this world impossible. The social fabric is torn and the attributes of our humanity are so thoroughly undermined that even managing to present a united front has become an obstacle course.

This is why politics is a gesture, a clenched fist. Quivering like a tightrope artist on a wire stretched between the mountains of a splintered epoch.

We have to fight back because there's nothing to be gained.

"So, the horizon? Dark, radiant? No! There's no horizon; there's a present, there's a possibility."  — Sylvain Lazarus





List of events programmed in the context of Classes de Lutte :

Saturday 20th May 2017, 7 p.m.
Classes de Lutte #1 : Cinéma espagnol militant sous Franco
Projection suivie d'une discussion avec le philosophe et activiste Mariano Lisa

Tuesday 30th May 2017, 8 p.m.
Classes de Lutte #2 : Les deux mémoires de l'Espagne sous Franco par Jorge Semprún
Projection suivie d'une discussion avec Carmen Claudín (historienne et philosophe), Dominique Martinet et Thomas Landman (fille et petit-fils de Semprún).

Tuesday 6th June 2017, 8 p.m.
Classes de Lutte #3 / Les "mijeurs", jeunes isolés étrangers
Rencontre avec Clémentine Ébert et Olivier Favier, œuvrant à rendre le monde plus habitable pour ces jeunes mineurs isolés.

Tuesday 12th September 2017, 7 p.m.
Classes de Lutte #4 / Sortir de la clandestinité, le parcours du combattant ?
Projection suivie d'une discussion avec Souleymane Bagayogo, Hugo Chesnard, Aboubakar Dembia et Mamadou Kebe.



 Drawing done by Paloma Polo, 2017 - all rights reserved




The project Classes de Lutte by Paloma Polo is supported by the Acción Cultural Española, AC/E, Mondriaan fonds, Canon France and the Cinémathèque française.