geert on Tue, 16 Mar 2004 00:52:13 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> ine poppe: a letter from madrid

(posted with permission of the author /geert)

From: Ine Poppe <>
A story i wrote for my friends:

The Reina Sophia Museum ( with the great Picasso's) had bought expensive
flights for us, which didn't offer you a meal - in economy class: glass
water 2 euro's-, so we arrived pretty hungry in Madrid. My brother,
married with a Spanish girl, has a fresh new kid: Fabio. They live in a
village near Madrid but both work in the city. In the evening Sam and I
had a lovely Tapas dinner with my brother, outside on a terrace - good
vibes, much people on the streets. Nice to see Martino again, he has
become very Spanish.

The next day in the Reina Sophia we met the friendly Teodora Diamatopoulus
of the Audiovisual Department & later her boss Bertha Sichel. Bertha, an
older lady with dark glasses with diamonds, which gave her the typical
austere art-historian look, complained about her lack of power: she could
create exhibitions but only use the museum auditorium. Only film/
video-screening and lectures. Together with Jenny Marketoe, ex college
from the University of New York, the department came to a programme with
'hacker' lectures and films:,1284,62452,00.html?tw=wn_culthead_1

So Wednesday evening Sam and i gave a talk, Sam first, he told about the
connection between the Dutch squatter movement, local television, the up
coming Internet in Holland, xs4all, the Digital City and he showed a
wonderful compilation of Smart-tv (1993) where the poet Diana Ozon on
local tv talks about 'Internet - what is that?' (starring: Walter van der
Cruijsen;  artist Maarten Ploeg; Mieke Gerritzen who couldn't pronounce
the term 'world wide web' yet).  I told the story of the videofilm HFH,
larded with pieces of the film. Talked about my first Internet
experiences, Women with Beards, how i met the hippies, what is fun and
special about this group of individuals; the immense problems with the
National Broadcaster VPRO, etc etc - and how it became possible to put the
film (free- download)  on the web - reason: we made our own version, so i
kept the copyright! - Then question round.

The lecture was in English and the public had earphones for the Spanish
simultaneous translation (According to my brother the translator
translated the word PORN with 'pictures of bad quality' ;-))

There were around 150 people there and afterwards we went for a drink with
madame Sichel and a bunch of youngsters (between 25 and 35 years old) to
the cafe. FUN! They told me Necrocam was on national news, the film
broadcasted, + they hosted a big tv- talk show about the subject. About
HFH was also covered in the Spanish newspapers, that was what triggered
them to come - they treated me as a celeb - good for my ego- So I spend
the whole night hanging around with fans in all sorts of Spanish pubs. The
company existed of poor artists, handsome Spanish video artist ladies, an
architect who teaches at the University and some hard core nerds, who
organize hacker conferences in Spain.  They spoke reasonable English ;-)

A few fans invited us to come the next day to the HACK-LAB (20 people pay
20 euro a month, lab is based in a squat - full with old and new
computers, a small video studio, including a bar and all the visitors have
free Internet access. They teach f.i. Linux, or 'hardware for girls' and
organize party's, lectures, film events. There were posters starring
Richard Stallman but also Grayson Perry. Beside that they create in whole
Spain (even in Morocco)  alternative labs with Linux networks and instruct
people how to use this. GREAT!

A story which made HACK-LAB known, is that they - on the eve of the "Big
Brother- Award -who-do-you-vote-out-of-the-house Television-evening" would
be evicted out of their squat. The made posters with the text: LOOK
They put up a web cam. The audience could see, life on-line, how the
police kicked in the door and removed the squatters, without resistant.

At 2.30 AM we walked behind the Atocha station to our hotel. In the
morning we woke up by the sound of sirens and a helicopter. Sam switched
the television on and we saw the first horrible images of the attack close
to our Hotel. The Reina Sophia is placed near Atocha. I phoned my brother:
he and his wife were okay. In the Museum was nobody whom i knew and when i
phoned Teodora she told me everybody of the AV department was in good

We decided NOT to go to the museum anymore ( the body bags were on the
square in front of it). We walked to the HACKLAB. On the street the
atmosphere was loaded . we passed a police station where hundreds of
people, some hysterical, had gathered to get information about their
missing beloved one's. Horrible.

The visit to the HACK-LAB was interesting, the squatters said this
couldn't be the ETA, but in general we all felt down. The day before i had
considered to postpone my ticket (an offer of the Museum) but i decided
against it. The Museum program would fall apart because of the mourning &
demonstrations that would take place.

That day the news about the victims, and their number reached us in
pieces. In Madrid people talked about it on the streets, but in the
underground nobody said a word.

The plane to Amsterdam was packed, so they put us in business class - at
least we had enough to eat and drink, so we reached Amsterdam with a full
stomach... and full at heart,

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