On the 18th September 2020, De Balie hosted a Forum on European Culture discussion with representatives of large protest movements, looking at their strategies, experiences and intentions.
Images for this page courtesy of the P2P Foundation (CC BY-SA 3.0) and De Balie.
The Sardines have taken over Italy’s piazzas, the Gilets Jaunes dominate the news in France and Extinction Rebellion’s artistic interventions attract worldwide attention: protest movements have been out in the streets in cities throughout Europe.
What do these movements have in common and how have they continued to operate during their countries’ various lockdowns? Will their actions shape Europe’s future, like those of other protest movements have shaped the continent’s development in the past?
This De Balie Forum on European Culture discussion talks to representatives of movements from France, the Czech Republic, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Hong Kong, exploring how protest movements develop and how they help give a voice to those Europeans who would otherwise go unheard.
Clare Farrell - Fashion Designer & Co-Founder of Extinction Rebellion
Clare Farrell is a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, the decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement known for its use of direct action and civil disobedience to draw attention to climate change.
Outside of Extinction Rebellion, Clare works as a sustainable fashion designer, with, for example, her label for sustainable and stylish cycling clothing, No Such Thing. In line with her professional background, Clare also lectures a short course on sustainable fashion at the University of the Arts London.
Priscilla Ludosky - Co-Founder, Gilets jaunes
Priscilla Ludosky is credited with providing one of the key impulses that led to the start of the Gilets jaunes movement with her petition criticising the government's fuels tax in May 2018.
In the course of her activism, Priscilla Ludosky has been especially engaged in projects to stop police violence and to create a better culture of communication and informed discussion.
Other than her activism, Priscilla Ludosky has worked as a webmaster for the French bank, BNP Paribas, founded and managed her own online shop for organic cosmetics and, recently, established a communications consultancy.
Priscilla Ludosky is also the author of a book on her experience of the political backlash following her initial activist engagement, entitled En France, donner son avis peut coûter cher (In France, Giving Your Opinion Can Cost You a Lot).
Naomie Pieter - Performance Artist & Activist
Naomie Pieter is a queer and anti-racist activist and the founder or co-founder of multiple initatives for these causes, such as Daughters of Ivory and Black Queer & Trans Resistance NL. She is also one of the leading figures behind Kick Out Zwarte Piet*, the initiator of Pride of Colour Amsterdam and involved in setting up a Black Queer Archive to make visible stories that are missing in narratives of the history of the Netherlands.
*Zwarte Piet is a controversial traditional black figure in Dutch culture.
Benjamin Roll - Co-Founder, Vice President & Spokesman, Milion Chvilek
Benjamin Roll is an activist and student whose activism began within the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, where he was the chairman of the Youth Advisory Department in Prague and played a role in supporting same-sex marriage within the church. During this time, he also was involved in the invention of a bible-based version of Activity, called Christivity.
Since 2018, Benjamin has also been prominently involved in the Milion chvilek pro demokracii movement (representated by the Milion Chvilek association), of which he is a co-founder and for which he is active as the vice president and as a spokesman. Milion chvilek pro demokracii was started to push for the resignation of the Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš after a number of conflict of interest and fraud scandals related to his business dealings. The movement promotes respect for democratic principles and is opposed to the oligarchisation of Czech politics. Its biggest protest so far was attended by c. 250,000 people in Prague in June 2019.
Mattia Santori - Co-Founder & Spokesman, Sardines
Mattia Santori lives in Bologna where he works as a sports teacher, energy analyst and spokesman for the Sardines.
In November 2019, he was one of four friends involved in the organisation of a flash mob protesting against an electoral campaigning event for the right-wing Lega Nord leader, Matteo Salvini. This first event brought together 15,000 participants and since then the movement and its rejection of right-wing populism have spread throughout Italy. The name of the movement comes from the idea of strength in numbers as seen in shoals of sardines, which protect themselves against larger predators by working together.
Wong Yik-Mo - Activist & Former Convenor, Civil Human Rights Front
Wong Yik Mo was a member of the former Hong Kong political party, Demosisto (forcibly dissolved in June 2020) and the former convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front; an organisation focused on consolidating voices from across a broad spectrum of groups interested in advancing the development of human and civil rights in Hong Kong.
Initially active in the 2014 Occupy movement, Wong Yik Mo performed a key role in organising mass demonstrations for political reforms in 2019, when 1.2 and 1.7 million demonstrators took to the streets in Hong Kong to protest against the government's Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill. Many people in Hong Kong were concerned that clauses in the bill would threaten their independent judiciary, opening the door to further exposure to the Chinese legal system and threatening the "one country, two systems" arrangement that has been in place since the handover of power in Hong Kong in 1997.
Sophie Derkzen - Journalist & Moderator
Sophie Derkzen is an Amsterdam-based journalist and moderator who has spent a lot of her career working in Germany.
From 2009-2014, she worked as a staff reporter for the Dutch magazine, Vrij Nederland and she was also engaged as a guest reporter and researcher for the German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, as part of the International Journalist Programme towards the end of this period.
In 2015, she decided to exchange her position as a reporter for a new role as a policy officer in the Political Department of the Dutch Embassy in Berlin. In her new role, she covered German internal politics and social affairs and gained a profound understanding of international relations and politics in the EU.
In 2018, she returned to Amsterdam, where she is currently developing new journalistic projects and working as a moderator with a focus on international politics and culture.
Sophie Derkzen holds two master’s degrees from the University of Leiden (History of Political Debate and Journalism and New Media) and, from 2006-2008, she studied acting at the Amsterdam School of the Arts. As part of her studies, Sophie Derkzen also spent a term studying French language and culture at the University of Paris IV Sorbonne.
The Forum on European Culture is a biennial four-day festival that brings together international artists, thinkers and members of the public to imagine a better future for Europe. This year the festival was titled We, the People and asked: Who are the Europeans? Is there more that binds us together than keeps us apart?
This long weekend of European culture was live streamed in its entirety this time around, turning it into a truly international event and ensuring that there are a lot of events that you can still enjoy online.
From Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th September, the festival presented more than 25 different events and hosted over 100 Dutch and international guests, both online and offline, including the chefs, Joris Bijendijk and Elena Arzak, the political activist, Flavia Kleiner, and the conservative British author, Douglas Murray, the economist, Noreena Hertz, the theatre director, Ivo van Hove, the photographer, Johny Pitts, football experts David Goldblatt and Simon Kuper, the geopolitical expert, Kishore Mahbubani, the author and feminist, Taslima Nasrin, and many, many more.
You can see another Forum on European Culture discussion, This is what we know about your future, here on tttdebates.org and you can access all of the other festival’s other events either via their online timetable or on the festival’s YouTube channel where they were live streamed.
The Forum on European Culture is an initiative of DutchCulture and De Balie.