April 5, 2013
Book covers for protests: the rise of the book bloc
by Kelly Burdick
“From Italy to England, Sweden to Spain, Oakland to New York, the book bloc has surfaced as a street protest tactic in which people create and use shields that resemble giant books,” notes the Interference Archive.
The archive, located in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, is currently exhibiting examples from book blocs formed by New York students at CUNY and Cooper Union “in their current struggles against tuition increases and instituting tuition.” The archive is also hosting a “teachshop” for activists to learn how to construct their own books and to share photos of book blocs in action around the world.
According to the Archive’s site:
Book blocs in their present-day incarnation first appeared in Rome in November 2010 as part of demonstrations against drastic budget cuts to the country’s public university system. Italian students began actions, occupations, and blockades by using oversize, handmade, padded book covers as banners and shields. The tactic quickly spread to other parts of Europe, the United States, and elsewhere.
Below: documentation of book blocs, as well as some samples of the Interference exhibit, all taken from the exhibit’s Facebook page, which also has the pertinent details on the exhibit, which runs through April 24.
The book bloc in action.
The Occupy Sussex book bloc.
From a protest against CUNY, on display at the Interference Archive.
A photo from the CUNY and Cooper Union book shields workshop on December 14, 2012.
Installation shot from the Interference Archive.
Book shields at work at the CUNY 2011 protests. This Grapes of Wrath shield was destroyed by CUNY security guards.
A book bloc in London, 2010.
Kelly Burdick is the former executive editor of Melville House.