Everything's Coming Together While Everything's Falling Apart: The ZAD

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Over the summer, artist Oliver Ressler visited the ZAD in Notre-Dame-des-Landes to shoot a video that would form a part of his ongoing installation series, Everything's Coming Together While Everything's Falling Apart.  

Not too long ago, global warming was science fiction. Now it has become hard science, and a reality we already live in. The latest reports from the sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the planet may be approaching multiple thresholds of irreversible damage faster than was ever anticipated.

The title “Everything’s coming together while everything’s falling apart” refers to a situation in which all the technology needed to end the age of fossil fuel already exists. Whether the present ecological, social and economic crisis will be overcome is primarily a question of political power. The climate movement is now stronger than ever. It obstructed pipeline projects such as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It stopped Arctic drilling and blocked fracking all over the globe. Coal-fired power plants were shut down by resistance, and the divestment movement that pressures institutions to unload their stocks from fossil fuel corporations has had successes...

The film on the ZAD (36 min., 2017) focuses on Europe’s largest autonomous territory that is located close to Nantes in France. The ZAD (zone to defend) emerged from the struggle against a new airport. In 2012 the French state’s attempt to evict the zone was fiercely resisted by more than 40,000 people and police has not set foot there since. Today 250 people in 60 collectives live permanently at the ZAD occupying the wetlands, fields and forests. The ZAD is a successful example that the creation of alternatives and resistance need to happen at the same time. While people take back control over their lives with self-organized bakeries, workshops, a brewery, medicinal herb gardens, a rap studio, weekly newspaper and a library, they hinder the construction of an unnecessary, ecologically disastrous airport project. The film is built along a group discussion with activists living at the ZAD.

Despite the efforts of government and corporate PR to convince us otherwise, whether and when fossil fuels are abandoned will be determined above all by social movements and the degree of pressure they exert on institutions. Powerful structures force us into lives that destroy our livelihood. It is these structures that must be changed, and nothing but our action in common can change them.

Watch Ressler's video below. In June, Verso published The Zad and NoTAV: Territorial Struggles and the Making of a New Political Intelligence by Mauvaise Troupe, in a translation by Kristin Ross.