Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks?
Canary Wharf, London - Thursday 1st December 2011
On 2 November 2011, a High Court injunction indefinitely banned “Any persons unknown remaining on the Canary Wharf estate in connection to protest action”.
All the land in the Canary Wharf area is privately owned by a company called British Land, instead of by the local authority. That makes it far more easy and likely for this type of draconian action to occur: easier because British Land are accountable to their shareholders and not the public; more likely because they’re driven by the profit motive of their tenants, rather than the interests of the local community.
With a touching reverence for democratic ideals they have no incentive or obligation to uphold, British Land assure us that "The injunction is not about stifling debate".
With a healthy scepticism for this statement, the Space Hijackers ventured once more Behind Enemy Lines (see our previous project), to bring a message of defiance to the masters and mistresses of the City. Wielding the trusty anti-capitalist coat-hanger of justice, we sought to reach behind the radiator of neoliberal corporate hegemony, to fish out the misplaced sock of truth.
Donning our shiniest shoes and our sternest expressions, we set off from our secret HQ after sharing a preparatory bottle of wine. A short bus ride transported us from austerity-era East London to a continent of steel and glass. A zone whose obsession with physical hyper-security is matched only by its lack of corporeal substance; an un-place, inhabited by info-arachnids feeling for digital palpitations in a web of soothsayer algorithms.
We got an unsettling reminder of our entry into this new territory as our bus was stopped at a border checkpoint by security guards, who searched under all the seats on the bus before allowing us on our way. These were not the police, but the private Canary Wharf security, who assume the authority of the state. They even sport the rather fetching black-and-white chequered livery of the Metropolitan Police, and menacing Batman utility belts to match.
We stepped out into the drizzle of the Dockside plaza, and scoped out the parade of wine bars. Agents Bristly Pioneer and CSM entered our first target. Hoping that their behaviour would escape the attentions of the phalanx of aftershave vendors outside the toilet cubicles, they set to work unravelling the toilet paper, only to roll it back up with our payload of propaganda hidden within its layers.
“Time to down tools – join the occupation!”
We moved on, with agents Maxwell and Bananas spiking the bog roll of the future denizens of another of the Wharf’s bars. Meanwhile outside, our efforts to blend in with our surroundings had clearly worked – perhaps too well, with our dashing Agent Bristly Pioneer being approached by a woman whose opening conversational gambit was “Are you single?” (Answer: “No, I’ve got a girlfriend.” Reply: “Me too, I’ve got a boyfriend. Wanna come to the Joiners Arms with me later tonight?”)
After entering a few more toilets, we became less fearful of our time-consuming and bogroll dispenser-rattling activities attracting unwanted attention, as we saw the numbers of habitués who emerged from cubicles in nose-rubbing pairs, and who vomited all over the floors – all on a school night.
We had a drink in our final stop-off, and placed more messages in menus and between piles of napkins. Agent Maxwell described a poster in his grandparents’ toilet, which asks: “Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks?” (See image at top of report.) Happy that we’d hit upon a fitting title for the project, we left for our beds back on the other side of the curtain.
“An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.”
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