Paris strike revisited

About this project

Point of departure

In France a strike is commonplace - a regular occurrence in the ordinary
politics of bargaining over economic and social politics. Last December
however, when for a period of three weeks public services - rail,
schools, and post - came to a standstill, across the nation the strike
became an exeptional phenomena disrupting the everyday "normal" life of
masses of people. Railway workers had gone on strike first in protest
against a plan for restructuring their social insurance. This strike
ignited similar concerns of workers in schools and the post office. What
developed was a broad strike on three fronts interpreted by some as an
eruption of widespread fear about social security in general.

The club Merleau-Ponty, a group of sociologists and journalists,
followed demonstrations and conducted field research of the striking in
Paris, e.g., they interviewed activists and sympathizers. Their purpose
was to better understand the mechanics of this broad strike, e.g., how
it was set into motion, gathered force, and ended, and, how the
circulation of information affected the development. The aim was to
generate a kind of picture of this blocking up of social force, the
damming of the normal flow of life of masses of people across the

Now - nearly one year after the strike - the Club Merleau-Ponty has
recently resolved the question of how to share their research results
with a broad public. As conventional means - such as a lecture or
symposium - seemed too cooly academic, the group opted instead for more
lively active performative media and engaged the collaboration of the
union members and artists working in the field of public art, language
and communication. The associative concept is to set up a forum for
larger reflection about broad-reaching economic and social developments
through various activities; direct interventions in railway stations,
performances, debates, and PORTE PAROLE, a project on the internet.

This project was realised as a ramification of the event GARE AUX

Anybody can participate in this project by taking from this page images
(a collection documenting the 1995 strike in Paris), working with these
images and sending back the manipulated images to

With a simple click on the image you will get a version of approximately
50kb. The returned pictures will also be presented on this site for
further manipulations.

(The pictures you will send us back should be, if possible, in gif or

The different stages of the pictures will be documented and published on
a CD-Rom for shows and debates in the end of this year.

Information about the project: Heinrich L