Ne vous laissez pas consoler (Do not allow yourselves to be consoled) is a project by the collective from Madrid, Democracia, in collaboration with the Ultramarines association, hooligans of the football team Girondins from Bordeaux. Starting from this collaboration and through a remarkable critical standpoint, Democracia proposes their intervention, consisting on the introduction of political sentences into a completely unusual context: a football stadium in full activity, questioning the logical structure of the show. These sentences were exhibited during the match between Girondins de Bordeaux and Rennes on September 27th 2009, using the merchandising products of the French team, their colors, designs and iconography. Customized carves, flags, banderoles, t-shirts and stickers were shown at a mobile stand located at the surroundings of the stadium. The sentences were: “Do not allow yourselves to be consoled”; “The truth is always revolutionary”; “No idols”; “They rule because we obey”; “We have nothing except our time”; “Pain is the only nobility”; “The main battlefield is the enemy’s mind”.
The aim of this action consists in observing the course of the show itself, seeing how the introduction of some references, at first quite remote from the football context despite being transmitted through a familiar media, can change the stream of the game.
Theoretical references. Critical background
Definitely rejecting Debordian theories about the spectator (“The Society of the Spectacle”), Democracia integrates the football practice into Rancière’s discourse and his thoughts for an “emancipated spectator”. Democracia starts from a completely organic conception of the show, the event, the game. So at a football match the public do not attend the show to remain sat on the stands, nearer or further from the field depending on how lucky they are, but they take active part of the performance, generating a community, fully participating of its process and evolution.
If Guy Debord used to attack the spectator because of its external nature, contemplative and absolutely passive from the spectacle itself, understanding the latter as a work closed by itself, an excluent entity due to its own autonomy, with the Theater Reformation and thanks to names such as Artaud, Brecht and in the field of most recent criticism to Jacques Rancière, it is a vastly accepted premise the consideration of the spectator as a generative part of the show, similar to a shared performance ruled by all its parts.
Taking these concepts as a theoretical basis, Democracia expects to make clear the strong power of this kind of associations, not only to transmit values, but also to generate community and to declare a shared identity. Ultras’ associations are self-supported organizations with a strong group conscience, supporting not only their team but their shared ideals too. Through the spectacle itself and their position in the stadium (south grandstands, tribune populaire) they show their class statements. In the specific case of Ultramarines, they define themselves as apolitical and anti-racists. The ultra is then an emancipated and intelligent spectator, connoisseur of his condition and expert on his field, like the theater spectator or even more than him, though on a wider sense of the term used by Rancière.
The nature of the collaboration between Democracia and Ultramarines has been the research of a common language to represent a shared ideology.
Development of the project. Logistics
Ne vous laissez pas consoler begins from the social fenomenon of football. Their proposal arrived at ADN Gallery and joined “Fora de Joc”, a series of exhibitions and activities in the context of La Tardor de l’Art, promoted by Catalan galleries (Art Barcelona, Associació art Catalunya, Associació de Galeristes Independents d’art de Catalunya), and supported by Institut Català d’Indústries Culturals (ICIC). Also, Bòlit (Contemporary Art Centre, Girona), receive simoultanously part of Democracia’s work in its space Bòlit – Rambla, taking part of this expanded proposal.