“This isn't a normal travelling theatre company, you know.”
Scotland Yard, 2004 (British Police HQ)
Infamous for fermenting mass disobedience on bicycles during Copenhagen's UN climate Summit, touring the UK recruiting a rebel clown army, building an illegal lighthouse on the site of an airport control tower, launching a rebel raft regatta to shut down a coal fired power station and refusing to be censored by London's Tate Modern museum, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination has been walking on the tightrope between art and activism since 2004.
We bring together artists and activists to co-design and deploy creative forms of direct-action, which aim to be as joyful as they are politically effective. Creation and resistance, protest and proposition are the entwined DNA strands of our practice. Whether training folk or co-organising actions, at the heart of everything we do are horizontal ways of relating and organising ourselves. We call our work experiments, because we never know what might emerge but we do know that the role of art in the Capitalocene can no longer be to show the world to people but to transform it together.
Since its birth in a London squat, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination has been dedicated to multiplying edges of all sorts. Just as the point where a forest meets meadowland is the most dynamic parts of that ecosystem, it’s in those slithers of space that a multitude of different species coexist, and that evolution moves fastest. Possibility emerges in those spaces of neither nor, the trans spaces, the non-binary worlds, the entangled hedges and edges.
In between performance and pedagogy, protest and poetics, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination aims to navigate these liminal contexts. Some days you will find us working in a mainstream cultural institution such as the Berliner Festspiele, other days organising with radical social movements such as the Camp for Climate Action, we might be teaching at the Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema and Sound in Brussels or training people in civil disobedience with 350.org to blockade a UN summit, we can be writing books and articles for the mainstream and specialised press or designing Beltane rituals with a revolutionary land based community.
Whatever the context we try not to separate our ethics from our aesthetic, our practice from our everyday life. Since 2016 following our desertion from the metropolis and academic jobs, we have lived on the zad, the zone to defend, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in Brittany, once named "the territory lost to the republic" by French politicians. These 4000 acres of wetlands, farmland and forest were due to be destroyed for a new international airport, but in 2018 after 40 years of struggle the infernal infrastructure was defeated through creative forms of direct action and land occupation.
For us, art, like commoning, is simply a discipline of attention, and our worlds have never needed more care and attention to be given to them.
"It reminds us of the time of street and free theatre, when social utopias were still being tried out anarchically and with relish. (…) This is about saying goodbye to representation and is therefore the most radical form of theatre"
Frauke Hartmann in The Frankfurter Rundschau, Reviewing: Flow, Swarm, Flood. International Summer Festival, Kampnagel, Hamburg, 2010.
Isa Fremeaux (she/her) is an educator, facilitator and author. She grew up in France before moving to London, where she worked as a freelance journalist, French teacher and administrator of a community arts company, while completing a PhD thesis on the concept of community. She became a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck College-University of London (UK) where she worked for 10 years, before leaving academia to embrace freedom and collective life.
Engaged in social movements for almost 20 years, she has facilitated assemblies gathering several hundred people, co-organised international mobilisations and climate camps, trained thousands of people to reinvent modes of disobedience...
Her passion is to explore collective dynamics and all the ways in which these can be made more fruitful and joyful, notably through popular education and rituals. She happily shares her skills to support and accompany various collectives, groups and associations in their development. Isa lives on the zad in Notre-Dame-des Landes, with JJ, and co-facilitates the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination READ MORE
Jay (formerly John) Jordan or JJ (they/them) is labelled a "Domestic Extremist" by the UK police, and “a magician of rebellion” by the French press. JJ has spent three decades applying what they learnt from theatre and performance art to direct action.
They like spaces betwixt and between of all sorts, especially between art and activism, culture and "nature", the masculine and feminine, protest and proposition. They have performed in museums and International Theater Festivals, trained people in squats, co-organised climate camps, choreographed carnivalesque riots, written a BBC radio play for today, and an opera-for-one. Author, art activist, part-time sex worker and full time trouble maker, JJ inhabits the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes, with Isa, and co facilitates the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. READ MORE
The Vacuum Cleaner (co-founder and member between 2004 and 2009), UK based artist who makes candid, provocative and playful art about the world being messed up.