UNTIMELY PARASITING, LOGO HIJACKING, MANIPULATION : WHO’S STEELING FROM WHOM
Robbing is cool_ That’s the credo of Yomango, a collective of Spanish activists, a nebula that appeared out of nowhere at the beginning century in Barcelona. The group made its first appearance with a super-spectacular operation in 2001. The affair in Question began in an innocent way. A small group of about a half a dozen politicized university students obtained, under the pretext of creating an art project, a large sum of money from a Barcelona museum : Agence. As soon as the subvention was received, these activist hurried to throw away the money in the street and distribute the cash. Ah, yes ! That was precisely the idea behind their artistic project : to show the vanity of capitalist values. Scandal ! The collective took off after this first act : a explosive mix of revolutionary philosophy, contemporary art 143 and performance activism. Their name, Yomango, appeared in March 2002 during the social forum held in Barcelona. This alter-global collective, femi-nist, anti-capitalist and queer (whoa) got into the news again by launching a minimalist, but intelligently mediatized action, the theft of a dress. Yes, the theft of an ordinary dress in a middle-of-the-road boutique as revolutio-nary performance and consecration into the militant spirit. Explanation. The activists go to a store of the Mango@ brand, steal a dress, add a «Yo» maliciously to the label. The logo becomes : “I steel”, in slang. Yomango is born. With the dress in their arms the activists go to Barcelona’s museum of contemporary art (Note 1) to exhibit the object which, in this roundabout way, has become a work of art. Rapture, contemporary art, etc. After the exhibition, the dress is returned to any store, where it enters back into the flux and flow of anonymous merchandising. This voyage from boutique-museum-boutique is destined to make a mockery of the perverse methods of the capitalist system. First the methods of production of the large ready-to-wear manufacturers, more and more morally marginalized by their dependence on de-localizations – at the limit of robbery. Then the making sacred of art in our era, which has another contemporary echo : the stock market.
Yomango, through their spectacular and festive events, always down in the streets, are inspired by the «Reclaim The Streets» movement (re-conquer streets and public spaces). They denounce the merchandising of everything, and are direct purveyors of the line of philosophic/political action of the alter-global activist Toni Negri (Note 2). An activism of diversion and per-formance in the vein of the pro-gay Kiss-in organized in front of Gap© stores in the Netherlands, where the letter “p” was replaced by the letter “y”. An activism involving other spectacular hijacking of logos, such as the extrava-gant false buyout of Nike in Vienna’s Karlplatz in October of 2003 (the ins-tallation of a giant 36 meter long Nike© mark by a collective of Italian artist/activists in association with the Viennese museum Public Netbase (Note 3)). These activist performances are played out on the background of contemporary art, which direct a critical regard towards the industry of tex-
Against all expectations, the Yoniango movement is having a ripple effect_ The collective finds it fairly snowed under by its base. More and more often. whenever anyone is caught in the process of “pinchinc something” in a store, they stoically explain that it’s performance – a political gesture – and that they are a member of the Yomango collective. Ah. for those that throw seeds to the wind … A quick double click on their web site (4) allows you to see their promotion of a derisive style through an illegal action : stealir.:. A symbolic promotion which is beginning to take form in the real world. The site offers all the techniques to foil the security systems in large department stores : everything from video surveillance, door alarms. the stid:ecry of the guards, BIP. Pro-theft activism ? Really ? Almost. Their semantic games and their performances breed trouble. Tremble, oh ye capitalist system! Through their two bibles, all in Spanish (5), very camp gadgets – one a litt-le red book, Mao style, the other in purple with a picture of Winona Ryder on the cover, muse, despite herself of the new kleptomania – they organized a monumental pinch-fest on 5th Avenue, with several million dollars of clo-thing stolen. As a straw offering, the group has developed a pseudo-Marxist. philosophy leaning towards Bakounin « Our words, our gestures, our SEXUall-ty, all have been dissected in order to be transformed into a sector of activiry-.1-
Its logical : industry steals from us, why shouldn’t we steal from the indus-trialists ? And poof, the collective steals the Mango© logo which appears is an obsessional manner on the site of our friends Yo. For the moment. Mango® hasn’t decided whether or not to legally attack these activists for abusive use of their logo. Let me be paranoid for two seconds. What if this was just another somber marketing affair, of activist branding ? You quietly instill your logo in a hostile environment… Let’s be realistic and crush these explosive ideas right away, but still take a moment and ask the right ques-tions : what better does a middle-of-the-road feminine ready-to-wear multi-national have to do to conquer the world ? Clean up its street credibility ? Refine its strategies of de-localization ? We talk we talk, we talk and during all this time … the ways of marketing are decidedly impenetrable.
(1) wvvw.macba.es (2) www.multitudes.samizdat.net (cyber-communist cultural revue whose slogan is : read, copy, plunder) (3) internet site : www.tO.or.at (4) sites yomango.net et yomango.org (5) You can find it on sccpp.org