Original Article: https://www.vice.com/fr
Translation in English: ‘A territory lost to the Republic’: what a ZAD looks like from the inside
Pictures and text : Immo Klink, as told to Julie Le Baron
I have photographed alternative communities and protest camps across Europe for many years, and increasingly heard people talking about the ZAD: 4000 acres of pasture, forest and wetland, squatted against an airport and its world. But beyond the protest and struggle against an unnecessary infrastructure planned on this ecologically unique landscape, something else caught my attention: The ZAD as a laboratory of autonomy a living breathing utopia.
I came there straight after visiting Calais and various clandestine ‘Mini Jungles’. The destruction of the Calais Jungle was imminent and the same threat was hanging over the ZAD last October. It was important to me to promote –or in the case of its destruction, at least to preserve with my camera the houses and fortifications of the place. Since photographing people in the Zone seemed very difficult to achieve, I wanted to show the built manifestations of their will to defend and create an alternative.
I was invited by a friend who lives and organizes creative disobedience from there, and only stayed for a short period. My friend drove me through small traditional farmer villages, until we made a turn into the main road of the ZAD. The entrance scenery is like a mix of Mad Max and Tarkovsky’s ZONA, exciting and intimidating at the same time. The ZAD is huge, and not everyone knows everyone. I ventured out with a borrowed bike and an old large format camera, so slow and tedious to operate, that people watching me just had to rule out the possibility of me being undercover police.
The ZAD is so diverse, you have all sorts of people there, from dairy farmers there since 7 generations to vegan punks passing through, anarchist artists to herbalists, communist blacksmiths to noise musicians living in 60 different collectives. Some popular perceptions about the ZAD are that they don’t work, they are scroungers and they are violent.
The media often struggles to reflect such diversity when it has to report on a contentious news issue like this one. Everyone living on the ZAD and tens of thousands of supporters are willing to defend it – with a diversity of tactics, from tractor blockades to tree sits, sit ins to barricades, clown armies to molotov cocktails. Some of the farmers see their act of simply working as resistance: ‘Do whatever you want as long as I can milk my cows and the diary truck can pass through.’ I heard one of them say.
What makes the ZAD work, is that this diverse community has had eight years to grow, learn and organize. And they have space –a lot of space, which makes the conviviality of such diverse groups possible. There is a pirate radio station, bakeries, market gardens, a brewery, a rap studio, a weekly newspaper, a saw mill, a library, even a lighthouse and much more. You have conventional diary farmers squatting their expropriated land on one side and on the other side a permaculture camp where people wouldn’t step on a worm. Beautifully build structures designed by architects stand in a field next to an occupied punk house with no rules – and fifty dogs. University lecturers, artists, political activists, pacifists, militants, drop-outs, immigrants, craftsmen, lawyers, people on the run, Marxists, Anarchists, militant ecologists, pacifists, black bloc… all kinds, and all trying to work together.
All images: http://immoklink.com/gallery/zad