There are many places to make art in, but not many people would think of an area that's experiencing heavy fights between police and people who defend an idea. Alex did think of it...

interviewing Alexandre Schmeltz: Creating Art in War Areas

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There are many places to make art in, but not many people would think of an area that’s experiencing heavy fights between police and people who defend an idea. Alex did think of it.

I was strolling along the streets of Montpellier, desperately wanting to connect to one of the amazingly artistic people that surrounded me, until I noticed a guy, struggling to carry a couple of wooden boards a few meters ahead of me. I smelled my one chance to finally talk to somebody and said “Do you need help?” rather loudly.

At first he didn’t even react and I realised yet again, that English wouldn’t bring me very far in a French city. But I got lucky. After a little time for him to process what he had just heard, he turned around and happily took my offer.

0 - HeaderWhen I asked him, what he was going to do with the boards, he started talking about war, police, squatted land and a guy who died in such circumstances due to a grenade. The truly surprising part to me was, that the story he told me, had indeed taken place in France.

In this About Wings Special he tells you all there is to know about what he does with the boards and how he tries to contribute to an idea, without fighting physically himself. There are some beautiful ideas in there as to how to tell a story to people who don’t believe in it.


A few months later, I asked Alexandre to send me some more information about the fighting area, so I can show it to you. Here is, what he answered:

“In Testet some politic people and a company wanted to start a project to retain water for intensive agriculture. That was the first project of 80 others. These projects are completly crazy because in Testet there is no river to retain, just a little pee. The engineers who are backing the project are from the company. These projects are unreal because, for example, in Testet the damn dam was three times bigger than necessary: the water would evaporate long before it could be filled.

This fact revealed that they simply came up with a big project just to make big money. They use the taxes – the people’s money – for themselves, not for our wellness. The other problem is: they could cut more trees with a bigger project. And they have cut 11 hectares of forest already, just to recuperate the money for themselves… People (and more important: LIFE) needs forest to have air and a stable atmosphere. Everybody can understand Biodiversity is the only way for life to survive. The destruction of the home of a infinite number of living beings is just pure fascism and it’s the quickest way for humans to disappear.

A ZAD is a way to fight corruption and defend a part of forest. But not only that. It’s a laboratory for other economic systems, other social organisations, other relations with the land, the earth and life itself. Testet had no reason to stay a ZAD for long time: not enough people, no real interest from the Mass Media and it’s a very small territory in comparison with Notre Dame des Land.

Remy Frayss was killed by a TNT grenade launched in his back. The Grenade had snatched his backbone. He lost all his blood in less than one or two minutes. During this time, the police had dragged his dead body by the feet to hide him. They concealed his disappearance until the next afternoon. He died during a happy Festival in Testet where you could see a lot of children, familly, Vegan food free restaurant, Concert, Art exhibition…

The prefecture (governement administration) had promised that there will be no cops. There was nothing to defend, neither machine, nor workers, nor trucks. Nothing. The presence of the Gendarmerie Mobile was just to provoke fear and a fight with the minority of Blak Block, present during the event. Few days earlier, the Gendarmery used big machines to dig a four meters deep moat and build a mud fortress to prepare the fight. Ironically, this mud fortress built by the police is now a real nice ZAD fortress protected by the Zadiste. Thanks to the police for helping us building up ZAD!”

Alexandre has also been active in Mexico, defending a local tribe’s territory against the government and continues to travel around the world to spread awareness about injustice and environmental madness, his art being his weapon.

Thanks to Alex for the inspirational interview!

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