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TITLE: Hold Your Ground
AUTHOR: Mirza & Butler
The film, Hold Your Ground was shown at Euroscoop, C-Mine, Genk as part of the opening weekend of Manifesta9. Hold Your Ground is inspired by the events of the Arab Spring and was triggered by Mirza and Butler’s discovery in Cairo of a printed pamphlet of instructions for pro-democracy demonstrators, called ‘How to Protest Intelligently’. Within the pamphlet, there is a page which depicts a protestor defending themselves from violence by the police; adjacent to this is the text, ‘Hold your Ground, Egyptian!’Hold Your Ground transforms the dissent of the printed page into live action. Within Hold Your Ground, the protagonist struggles to occupy a position within media imagery of protest through turning utterances into language, gradually building phrases and movement, creating a physical and verbal code. This film was originally produced for a screen in Canary Wharf underground where the gestures and speech of the figure clashed with the station as gateway to the most symbolically powerful site of banking de-regulation and financial crisis in the UK.
The repetition of gestures and speech stands as an attempt to teach a new language to the viewer; a type of ‘training’ that is informed by the archive footage slicing through Hold Your Ground. Amongst the footage of assemblies and demonstrations is the now evicted Occupy camp at St Paul’s which was particularly important to represent due to the injunction against protest obtained by the Canary Wharf Group on the 1st November 2011. By representing the camp, alongside Egypt, the anti-cuts demonstration of March 26th 2011 and protests from Northern Ireland we intervened into the corporatized space of Canary Wharf, presenting actively supressed forms of language and movement as a small act of disobedience. You can see an online version of this work here: http://www.mirza-butler.net/index.php?/project/hold-your-ground/