Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army
Talking about the long and rocky red nose road we came from, should we talk about Hisstory or Herstory of the rebel clowns? We think it should be Herstory. Why? first of all because rebel clowns want to make you think and put things upside down! Second it sounds funny and third: there's some truth in it. Especially in the Amsterdam gaggle Rebelact. Most of the basic trainings were given by female trainers, but more important the vast majority of the group is what they usually call 'female'. And also the few male rebel clowns love to use make up, change clothes a lot and to don't understand males like police, security, army and authorities.
Maybe you should forget this story: rebel clowns simply don't believe in these male / female borders! Rebel clowns try to - but don't understand rules and borders: not between people, not between countries, not between the ones in power and the ones who should (not) follow them.
Let's start with a literal quote from the CIRCA website:
Roll up, roll up - ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and foes - welcome to the unparalleled, the unexpected, the perfectly paradoxical, the grotesquely beautiful, the new-fangled world of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (CIRCA).
We are clandestine because we refuse the spectacle of celebrity and we are everyone. Because without real names, faces or noses, we show that our words, dreams, and desires are more important than our biographies. Because we reject the society of surveillance that watches, controls, spies upon, records and checks our every move. Because by hiding our identity we recover the power of our acts. Because with greasepaint we give resistance a funny face and become visible once again.
We are insurgent because we have risen up from nowhere and are everywhere. Because ideas can be ignored but not suppressed and an insurrection of the imagination is irresistible. Because whenever we fall over we rise up again and again and again, knowing that nothing is lost for history, that nothing is final. Because history doesn't move in straight lines but surges like water, sometimes swirling, sometimes dripping, flowing, flooding - always unknowable, unexpected, uncertain. Because the key to insurgency is brilliant improvisation, not perfect blueprints.
We are rebels because we love life and happiness more than 'revolution'. Because no revolution is ever complete and rebellions continues forever. Because we will dismantle the ghost-machine of abstraction with means that are indistinguishable from ends. Because we don't want to change 'the' world, but 'our' world. Because we will always desert and disobey those who abuse and accumulate power. Because rebels transform everything - the way they live, create, love, eat, laugh, play, learn, trade, listen, think and most of all the way they rebel.
We are clowns because what else can one be in such a stupid world. Because inside everyone is a lawless clown trying to escape. Because nothing undermines authority like holding it up to ridicule. Because since the beginning of time tricksters have embraced life's contradictions, creating coherence through confusion. Because fools are both fearsome and innocent, wise and stupid, entertainers and dissenters, healers and laughing stocks, scapegoats and subversives. Because buffoons always succeed in failing, always say yes, always hope and always feel things deeply. Because a clown can survive everything and get away with anything.
We are an army because we live on a planet in permanent war - a war of money against life, of profit against dignity, of progress against the future. Because a war that gorges itself on death and blood and shits money and toxins, deserves an obscene body of deviant soldiers. Because only an army can declare absurd war on absurd war. Because combat requires solidarity, discipline and commitment. Because alone clowns are pathetic figures, but in groups and gaggles, brigades and battalions, they are extremely dangerous. We are an army because we are angry and where bombs fail we might succeed with mocking laughter. And laughter needs an echo.
We are circa because we are approximate and ambivalent, neither here nor there, but in the most powerful of all places, the place in-between order and chaos.
RUN AWAY FROM THE CIRCUS
JOIN THE FORCES OF THE CLANDESTINE INSURGENT REBEL CLOWN ARMY
It has only just begun
Definitely the wrong clown (US-president George Bush) was invited to visit Her Majesty the Queen in London in November 2003. It was the right-left-right-left moment to march to Buckingham Palace with the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army with a cardboard cannon firing pink pretzels.
Many interventions by the rebel clowns followed. Within a few years several gaggles (groups of rebel clowns) appeared in the UK: London, Glasgow, Sheffield, South Devon, etc.
Spring 2005 the Ridiculous Recruitment Tour made people all over the UK enthusiastic to change their noses into the beautiful colour of red. Rebel clown workshops were organised in cities like London, Bristol, Sheffield, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Glasgow, etc.
In July 2005 many of the rebellious recruits visit the area near Gleneagles where G8 leaders talk about how to don't solve world problems. More than 200.000 people joined the Make Poverty History rally in Edinburgh. They get support by 150 rebel clowns who focus on Operation Brown-Nose. (looking for antisocial elements like Gordon Brown who may be marching in the demonstration).
Although the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other world leaders promised a lot, in reality not much happened in favor of the southern countries in the world.
18.000 Police shield G8 leaders from alterglobalist protesters. The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army tries to help them by waging an overarching 'War on Error' strategy in Gleneagles, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Faslane. A broad variety of techniques have been used: from giving kisses, hugs, playing games with police, joining a dance party on the streets till closing down petrol stations, friendly and chaotic roadblocks and arranging clown blockades around police blockades.
The successes inspire groups of rebel clowns in Belgium ('Bataljon Belge') and the Netherlands ('CloLoNeL') to also take red nose initiatives.
In June 2007 hundreds of rebel clowns from Germany, UK, France and other countries gather in Camp Wichmannsdorf near Heiligendamm in Germany. Again G8 leaders talk about how to don't solve world problems. Again they were protected by 18.000 police. A week filled with a broad variety of actions. Starting with the occupation of the former bombing and shooting area Bombodrom in Brandenburg, joining a big demonstration in Rostock, visiting McDonalds near Bad Doberan, joining massive and effective blockades around Heiligendamm and ending with a rebel clown press conference near the beach of Kühlingsborn: "We now let all the G8 leaders behind their fences free!! You could go now!"'
Especially the first years after these G8 protests the infrastucture of local rebel clown groups in Germany remained.
The successes of the gaggles in Germany inspired to start a local gaggle in Amsterdam: Rebelact.
It happened also in Liège in Belgium. Shortly before or after the events in Heiligendamm more cities in other countries followed: Paris, Lille and other cities in France, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Lisboa, Vienna, etc.
The Amsterdam Rebel Clowns were inspired by the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. Starting in 2007 it was absolutely great to march and sometimes meet other uniformed forces! These very official forces loved them that much that they didn't believe their eyes and asked for ID's. Of course the clowns show pictures to their fans! Even now there are still useful occasions in the Netherlands to proudly wear pimped military uniforms!
However, the Amsterdam clowns also love to change. To feel free, to experiment, to wear whatever they want. Already shortly after the beginning the Amsterdam clowns focussed on 'the situation' instead of the uniform. The situation should tell how to appear. During one of their first missions 'clown cleaners' supported striking cleaners in their struggle for respect, decent wages, job security and better working conditions.
The clowns also used other outfits like: rebel brides, rebel princesses, rebel monks, rebel business men, rebel angels, rebel piggies, etc.
Experiments changed the clowns into 'victims of war', fools, riot police, zombies, populist politician Geert Wilders and his clown promotion team, undercover police, nineteenth century painters, etc
Many times the interventions got attention by papers, radio and TV. Especially in the days before elections also by British, Belgian and German media.
The Amsterdam Rebel Clowns were never arrested, except when they demonstrated as 'National Duckies Front', and 'National White Bride Front' in places where neo-Nazis (NVU / Dutch Peoples-Union) got legal permission to march. The attempts to join them resulted in a total amount of fines of almost 2200 Euro. After several court cases the judges understood clowns are always innocent. Finally all fines were dropped.
Once or twice a year the Amsterdam Rebel Clowns organise an open action everyone could join. Fools take over the streets to celebrate overconsumption in the shopping area with April Fool's Day, April 1st and zombies walk or cycle in the Dutch capital with Halloween, Oct 31st. The zombie walks are related to f.e. the banking crisis, ban on squatting and populist politician Geert Wilders. Up to 50 people joined these interventions.
Next to it Rebelact organises info nights about rebel clowning and new action forms, an annual basic training (RABBIT-weekend, Rebel act Big Basic Intervention Training). By exception a Rebel Clown High Tea, a clown film night and a presentation with Rebelact videos, etc.
It all worked out fine, but after doing 60 intervention in less than 5 years the group suffered from tiredness in the first months of 2012. It was necessary to think about how to make new steps. Talks in the gaggle resulted in a broader concept and new way of organising. The funny thing is: probably only the Amsterdam Rebel Clowns will experience the differences. Most probably you won't notice! Perhaps you'll see rebellious craziness is growing stronger!
The Amsterdam Rebel Clowns start a new chapter in their existence after summer of 2012. Hopefully it leads the group to unknown and adventurous paths. Although it doesn't operate regularly as a classical Rebel Clown Army, for sure it goes on with the heroic battle to clownonise the world!
Never underestimate the mighty weapon of laughther! It was the Mexican writer Rosario Castellanos who said: "We have to laugh. Because laughter, we already know, is the first evidence of freedom."
We are everywhere
Rebel clowns joined G8 protests in 2005 in Gleneagles (UK) and in 2007 in Heiligendamm (Germany), but also Castor transports (nuclear waste) in Germany got several times attention by rebel clowns. For the first time in 2006.
The action 'Nato Game Over' in 2008 near Nato headquarters in Brussels (Belgium) has been joined by French, German and Dutch rebel clowns. Rebel clowns also joined international actions around the Nato summit in 2009 in Strasbourg, France.
The G20 summit in 2010 in Toronto (Canada) got special support by rebel clowns. Some of the decentralised actions in European cities in 2011, because of the G8 summit in Deauville (France), also got rebel clown support.
NATO summit in 2012 in Chicago (US) got special attention from the new 'Clown Bloq'. In 2012 the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army joins the Faslane Peace Camp alongside Faslane Naval Base (UK). Gaggles in Wales and Glasgow (UK) became active again and a new group of rebel clowns started in Seattle (US).
This summary is far from complete and there's more to come!
May 26th, 2011 in Amsterdam: press conference of the 'G8 Leaders Fool's Pride'. It's one of the decentralised actions in several major European cities when world leaders meet in Deauville, France. Photo: Paul Koene