Art & Videos
NOTES ON SEATTLE WTO PUBLIC UPRISING AND ARTS ORGANIZING(Reprinted from the November 2019 newspaper edition of the Independent.org)
By David Solnit
One thing we did well was centering the arts in our education, organizing and protests — and scaling it up to fill the streets with art, song and theater, as the authorities filled the streets with riot cops, teargas, and National Guardsmen. The spread of arts organizing is one legacy of the Direct Action Network’s effort to create new forms of resistance. Today we see mass art builds to prepare for teachers union strikes and the widespread use of arts organizing in the climate justice movements. more...
By Chris Borte (with Julia Steele Allen)
“This is What Democracy Looks Like!” is a joyful and defiant chant heard at countless marches since it’s origins in Seattle in 1999. But like much of our shared movement history, you don’t know where it came from. Before sharing what happened on that cold and rainy November morning, there’s even older context that adds depth to that movement moment.
The democratic roots of the WTO opposition practices can be traced back to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Movement for a New Society (MNS). Both organizations had strong democratic practice and strategically used nonviolent direct action. more...
By Dana Schuerholz
In the mid 80s and early 90s I found the Seattle Nonviolent Action Group, SNAG. We were a multi-issue action/affinity group that organized direct actions and participated in actions organized by other groups and coalitions. As a self identified artist-activist, I brought my passion for art as a tool for popular education and inspiration into the actions we participated in and organized. We performed theater in the streets and in court rooms. We had nightly wheat pasting, postering on telephone poles and huge blank city walls with our demands and desires like “El Salvador will be Free” and “Free South Africa.” We made substitute newspaper front page “wraps” more...
Remembering Seattle – Jan Burger
I drove across country in my pickup truck from North Carolina to Seattle in 1999. I went to protest the policies of the WTO and to join with other artists in “the largest puppet convergence in the history of the world.” That’s how my friend David Solnit described it to me. We had met working with Art and Revolution in San Francisco. In my truck I brought a bundle of 10’ tall flower banners that I printed and painted thinking - there are going to be hundreds of signs with words on them, I’ll bring something that is just beautiful. more...
By Jim Page
As far as I’m concerned no political movement can be called “authentic” without music, theater, poetry, dance, the whole thing. Revolution is not just a mental exercise. For most of my life I have pursued a musical career that carries the details of reality with it. I’ve traveled and lived in places that became the songs I sing. I play acoustic guitar, which makes it easy. You can take it out anywhere, at any time. Music is the landscape, song is the form, and the guitar is the tool.
Before the WTO got to Seattle I had become cynical. I didn’t expect much. ...More
Though the noise of breaking glass and concussion grenades were the sounds from Seattle most heavily regurgitated by the corporate media, there was a musical storm brewing in the thickest of tear gas which laughed in the face of the predictable police stand-offs. Wearing Russian-style fuzzy black hats and militaristic green and black uniforms, flanked by a flag corps and rifle twirlers, a radical marching band called the Infernal Noise Brigade (INB) roamed the liberated streets. There have been marching bands like these at almost every global day of action since J18: the Committee for Full Enjoyment played at IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington in 2000, the INB turned up again in 2000 in Prague, as did Rhythms of Resistance, a samba band from London which incorporated 50 people playing homemade shakers into a huge festive block. more...
After producing many segments for Showdown in Seattle, Whispered Media produced this short video using footage of the WTO shutdown for the then upcoming World Bank/IMF protests.
Produced, Directed, and Edited by Jill Freidberg and Rick Rowley
Cut from the footage of over 100 media activists, This is What Democracy Looks Like captures the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. The film marks a turning point in collaborative filmmaking and achieves a scope and vision possible only through the lenses of over 100 cameras.