AAA! works with border areas in women’s lives in public space - like the 'glass ceiling' or invisibility of age - and occasionally steps on the border of illegal means of action.
Instructions and manuals, make-up tips, cooking classes – heaps of instructional videos can be found online. Yet, what if a woman of 40+ is looking for a tutorial video on how to recapture the ever-narrowing private and public space? This is when AAA! springs into action…
A video by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist shows her smashing a car window with a flower. A policewoman walks by, saluting her in a friendly manner. This is the kind of ‘actionism’ that pops to the minds of AAA! when planning their interventions: doable on their own, witty in detail, effective on a small scale and in the outcome. With the production of short instructional and explanatory videos, the group AAA! brings momentum to the debate on how women aged 40+ can act politically – single-handedly.
After all, there are endless clichés about women over 40: unattractive figures of fun who are less able to act but agitated instead, yet harmless by and large. AAA! uses these images to break them. Their instructional videos are intended to help overcome the individual’s powerlessness with artistic means and to thus recapture both private and public space in a feminist tradition. Even alone, one can leave subtle messages or accomplish an esthetically valuable act of sabotage – be it in a parking lot, the beauty salon, or on the well-monitored Internet!
(Text: Lisa Bolyos)
How to join
AAA! is an artistic self-help group with the aim of exchanging and developing intervention ideas that can easily be converted into practice by single persons. The interventions and actions deal with realities of women over 40 on the borders of public and private spaces, of legality and with role constructions and clichés.
Any person interested in following activities of other AAA!s or in sharing ideas and documentations of their interventions is invited to define as AAA!, join the Facebook group or contact us via E-Mail. Contact details see bottom of page.
If you publish an intervention on the internet, you can use the hashtag #AAActionistas
Idea collection, Work In Progress
Building and investment, urban development
- an add-on to renovation site fences and advertisement texts: 'Here will be built luxury apartments affordable only to a few of us so we can get even richer and continue to abuse / fuck everyone else over' or 'luxury apartments, courtesy of my mother-in-law'. A poetic variation: 'disposable buildings, disposable living.'
- add information to the investor's logo and claim (on a building or building site fence) with an edding or other devices – e.g. "renovated / invested to death" – remember to always carry an edding with you, or a lipstick of course (see also "Recycling")!
- refer to the polystyrene mafia by drilling small holes into insulated facades and placing seed bombs into them (don't forget to water regularly!). Moss, grass, stinging nettle recommended. Or stick little flags with messages into the facades.
- you can use existing holes in facades to fill them with seeds or place other baits also to attract pigeons or rats to houses just renovated, especially those turned into luxury or phantom bnb apartments.
- in order to work without disturbance, get and use a dressing tent to write messages on walls or the ground ("Halten Verboten") or draw individually designed pictograms.
Consumerism and lookism
- slide notes into (rich looking) people's (shopping) bags with messages on anti-capitalism, anti-consumerism, on how aging women get poorer and poorer and have few economical rights. Or on worker's rights, sweatshops, etc. – use short texts you can also find on the internet. Sign as AAA! (reverse pick pocket). A variation: design a voucher announcing a raffle with prizes like a trip to sweatshops in Bangladesh if you bring back your old clothes. Could also be packaging waste and a trip to a romantic animal farm.
- hang back your old clothes in the store with notes (reverse shoplifting). They could address topics like how the sizes have changed due to profit hunting and lookism – something that was a size 38 in 2002 is now a size 42 or even bigger. Or also consumerism and worker's rights ("Made in hell"). And sexism. Or a fun pun, since h&m stuff always starts smelling pretty quickly and you can't get rid of it: "this stinks of oppression", "your jeans made of ecological cotton still stink like pollution". See also the reverse shoplifting video
- stuff your bra with ridiculous or practical things (gloves to keep them warm) to point out the absurdity that a bra in our society is there to make/force your boobs to look as sexy as possible, when it's actually supposed to be there as a help for your tits not to hurt when you run or jump.
- give away sweets to little children from the shelves in a big store (without parents noticing) and create a riot during rush hours.
- buy gendered toys, change colours (pink) or other details unconspicuously and give them back to the store. Variation: sew clothes so they are even tighter (e.g. bottoms of pants) and give them back.
Internet and communication
- sign emails with an impressive title (Office of DDr. A. A. A. Something) and an according signature line (Institute of Whatever) for more respect.
- get a "office" mail alias and write mails as an imaginary assistant.
- use doxing to confuse evil people by spreading wrong addresses and data.
Noise and neighbourhood
- invite neighbours to form a little anti-noise yelling choir. Next time some idiots make noise on the street, invite the others to yell down as chorus or in dialogue form ("quiet!" "yes!" "shut up!" "thank you!"). And get a megaphone.
- when people talk very loud (on their phones) on public transport, join in the conversation: "Yes, I'm on the bus, too! That's interesting! I also had this experience the other day!" Or document them on video.
- ask people who sit in their cars with the hands-free set extremely turned up very friendly to turn it up a little more so you can follow the conversation from the third floor.
One person protest
- write your message on an umbrella using spray can colours.
- if your windows are visible from the street, use curtains for your message.
- whenever there is a ticket control, be extremely slow in search of your ticket and stand in the way so that others can take the opportunity of getting off before being controlled. You can also start a conversation with the controllers about how you never find anything in your bag etc.
- if you have the impression that someone is a victim of racial profiling (or racism in general) in the context of ticket and id controls, intervene by complaining that your id hasn't been controlled yet and that you consider yourself being a victim of discrimination.
- refer to prohibitions of all kinds, e.g. "food" by depositing old slushy onions between free "newspapers" in their stands to show that these are the actual pollution in public transports (and stink the most, too). Alternatively, deposit your waste paper there. You can also attach a sign like "Kebablage" or "Waste" to the stands.
- a variation on onions in public transport: wear an onion compress ("Zwiebelwickel") around your neck or head as in old times (very good against inflammations!) to assure getting enough space in rush hours or keep people away late at night.
Recycling and environment
- use expired lipstick for graffitti of all kinds.
- make a bag or suitcase bomb with damaged handbags: stuff them with plastic or other waste, write "plastic bomb" or "recycling fail" on them and deposit them in big department/discount stores, shop windows (preferably during shopping madness before Christmas) or in front of your environmental ministry (or even at train stations or airports). Then wait for police action. See also the bag bomb video
- whenever someone drops waste in the environment, inform them politely that they have lost something.
- if you get caught or attacked, be very surprised, nice and harmless and say something like "Oh!! Is that your car? I'm SO sorry! I'm a little confused... It was really nice meeting you!" Or pretend you can't hear or see them properly ...
- in case of heavy traffic, stand in the middle of the road and look a little lost and helpless.
- when getting harrassed or just annoyed, point your mobile phone to the source and make a picture, video or just pretend to.
Topical and timeless sociopolitical occasions
- create an ad like "car bailout" with a picture of a police car and the number of your preferred ministry of interior section and pin it at several supermarket classifieds blackboards or the like – a perfect way to stay anonymous and be efficient!
- buy postcards or other souvenirs, design add ons or labels with messages and put the redesigned items back into the shop display. Suggestion: "Stay away from racist / nature exploiting ... (name of place)".
Traffic and public space
- use your expired lipstick (see "Recycling" above) to write love messages on cars that attract your attention by being extremely big, loud or environmentally damaging. Alternatively, you can also attach sharp items to your cane or rollator to create interesting graffitti designs.
- redesign traffic signs by adding signs saying "quiet zone (max. 50 dBh)" or "0-5" (tempo limit). Or by covering them with labeled bags.
- create bumper stickers that refer to hazards caused by traffic, like shock pictures on cigarette packs (dead children or animals, a lot of blood). You can also attach old fur pieces or the like to or beneath the tires, eventually combined with balloon bombs filled with waste fluids (oil and preferably some colour like expired red or black hair dye).
- create little cards you can easily carry with you and clip them on windshields. Messages could be designed analogously to parking tickets or carry informations like "Your car is too loud / too big / should not be here / you're not alone (as information and menace)". Further sticker inspiration here.
- if being harassed while trying to park your car, hand little drawing books (e.g. with traffic lights), relaxing rubber balls or plastiline kits to the harassers to keep them busy and calm and remind them of their hidden creative potentials.
- whenever you notice someone driving like mad or a very phony vehicle, try to make a picture with your phone or just point it at them – even if it doesn't work or you don't capture the license plate. If the driver notices you, you'd be surprised how excited she/he'll get about your attention!
- to get rid of bad energies and calm yourself after negative encounters with super ugly vehicles use some plastiline and knead it into voodoo SUVs.
- reuse plastic flower pots and weeds (or other plants that have become too big) to place them in parking lots.
- take back space by using the whole street for your cycling tour. See also the taking back the street video
- ask men when they’re washing their cars if they clean their toilets that meticulously too, or if you maybe could hire them to have your toilet cleaned.
Links and inspirations (in alphabetical order)
Artists and other individuals
Maria Alyokhina (Pussy Riot): Riot Days (Book)
Celeste Barber Instagram account
Feminist Art: those who made it possible for us to be here and do this today
Leslie Hill: Suffragettes invented Performance Art, a micro lecture
Barbara Kruger: I shop therefore I am
Neozoon: Hairy Women
Barbara Ungepflegt: Philipphof Parkside
Marlene Streeruwitz: Frag Marlene