New autonomous zone established in Ljubljana
Ljubljana – A new autonomous zone has been created in Ljubljana near the Žale cemetery in premises owned by the bad bank but left to decay for several years. The users of what has been named the Participative Ljubljana Autonomous Zone (PLAC) expect they will not have to face police but support in “creating a healthy and open society”.
The initiative, which says it has also received support from the local community, wrote in a press release that more than 100 people assisted on Saturday in the public opening of neglected premises at Linhartova street 43 in Ljubljana.
“Equipped with brooms, tools and trash bags they started building a new vision of a communal space, which will be accessible to those it belongs to – the people of the city, who want to spend time without having to consume within the consumer society.”
Workshops, non-commercial film screenings, free communal dinners for all who cannot afford ever dearer food, panel debates, exhibitions and a library have been announced.
The users have protested against what they say was the owner of the premises – the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) – sending police to the counterculture centre on Saturday and Sunday.
The users say that BAMC had left the place to decay and that instead of sending police, which so far only identified those present, they should allow them to “create something living, autonomous and inspiring out of something abandoned”.
BAMC, which got the property through the bankruptcy of builder CPL, rejected the criticism in its response for the STA, saying investing public funds into dilapidated buildings on a piece of land whose main value is its plot would have made no sense.
The buildings are not safe, are slated for demolition and advertised for sale, and the value of the property will rise with the preparation of documentation allowing for the construction of an apartment building, the bad bank added.
“In any case, the alleged poor condition of a building cannot be a reason or the grounds for a small group of people taking the right to take over a piece of real estate owned by the state, i.e. by all citizens,” BAMC added, announcing it would establish all facts and take adequate measures in line with legal possibilities.
A more conciliatory tone meanwhile came from the Culture Ministry, which wrote that it “understands and supports the efforts of young culture workers and other users for a temporary use of PLAC”.
The ministry said it was aware of the lack of infrastructure needed in particular by young creatives who want to create independently and outside of existing institutions.
“Many artists recognised as extraordinary today had their beginnings in autonomous cultural spaces of independent creativity,” it added, speaking of spaces that generate independent art, social policies, social movements and lifelong education outside of institutions.
The ministry hopes for dialogue between the temporary users and the owner in order to find a common solution and will also independently strive to “develop appropriate measures to resolve in the long term both the spatial difficulties of artists and the generational gap in the field of culture”.
Several similar autonomous zones have been established in Ljubljana so far, the best known and only surviving one being Metelkova Mesto.
The users of the former bicycle factory Rog were evicted last year after more than 15 years, similar activist initiatives have however continued, among them weekly gatherings at the idle and decaying stadium in Bežigrad borough that began at the start of this summer.
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