In the Neighborhood Academy Michelle Teran will show for the second time her new film DIGNITY / DIGNIDAD (2016, Spanisch with English subtitles)
Dignity / Dignidad is a film by Michelle Teran about strategies of recuperation in times of crisis. Recuperation, in a literal sense, means the recovery or regaining of something.
The film focuses on “La Dignidad”, an apartment building in Mosteles, a suburb of Madrid. The building was constructed during the real-estate boom, but never occupied after the property market collapsed following the Spanish financial crisis starting in 2008. Housing activists from Stop Desahucios (Stop Evictions) in Mostoles took over the building in June 2014, and christened it “La Dignidad”. The activists made the decision to take over the building when they realized that more and more people coming to the weekly housing assemblies were either already homeless or were about to be evicted the following week. There are fifty people, individuals and families, currently living in “La Dignidad”, 18 are children under the ages of 10.
The building “La Dignidad” is part “La Obra Social” (Social Work), a nation-wide campaign initiated by the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) which targets the hundreds of thousands of empty apartment buildings constructed during the Spanish housing bubble. The banks are the current owners of these buildings: they took over possession of the property from bankrupt developers who defaulted on their investment loans. The banks received huge government bailouts, while, at the same time, people were being evicted from their homes at unprecedented levels. The activists use these buildings, to relocate families and individuals with housing difficulties. According to the housing activists, if the banks belong to the public, then the houses do as well. These small, but steady acts of resistance challenge the logic of neoliberalism: small, large victories which can be shared and repeated in other locations.
Most of the events and encounters featured within the film take place between Mostoles and Madrid, Spring / Summer 2015, within the post-election environment of new city governments lead by “rebel” mayors, and the Greek bailout referendum. Dull Janiell Hernández, a filmmaker originally from Cuba, and one of the occupants of La Dignidad, is the editor for the film.
The Berlin and Madrid based artist Michelle Teran claims a hybrid practice that links political and social involvement to contemporary art actions. Currently she is developing a series of works that examine crisis subjectivities within the scope of recent (post-2011) political movements. Since 2013 she has been closely connected to housing movement in Spain and produced films, materials and performances around around the ongoing work of the Stop Desahucios (Stop Evictions) movement and the PAH.