living room: space & place in infoshop culture



info-shops and a space/place-based culture of resistance

We live in a society where public places that people feel like they are an active part of and can use for non-economic purposes are increasingly rare. Public spaces where people can go in order to feel like a part of a community and to participate in creating a transformational culture of resistance to the dominant society are even more rare. One exception to this general scarcity of alternative public spaces is the emergence of Info-shops in urban centers across the United States - and indeed around the world. Info-shops are community spaces that facilitate access to traditionally marginalized information while providing a physical space for people to build creative projects of resistance to current forms of destruction and domination.

We focus on six infoshops in the film: the Lucy Parsons Center in Boston, Breakdown Book Collective & Community Space in Denver, Jane Doe Books in Brooklyn (RIP), the Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley, The Back to Back Worker-run Cafe in Portland, OR, and the Wooden Shoe in Philadelphia. We decided to approach the film from a point of view interested in interrogating the importance of place and space in relation to 1.) peoples daily lives in urban areas 2.) the creation of activist movements for social change 3.) the decline of open/free public, non-commercialized space 4.) ways that privilege and oppression are manifest physically in space 5.) ways in which people participate in place-making exercises and/or resist feelings of placelessness.

Our project aims to readdress the ways in which film can involve more than just academic voices in theoretical debates and critical engagement of all aspects of societies. Our ethnographic film readdresses these overlooked aspects by, one, allowing the research material to, in a way, speak for itself to the audience as deeply contextualized images and, two, make evident our theoretical perspectives by "breaking the third wall" to involve and fully discuss our perceptions to those that seek out or happen to view this ethnographic film. In making the film this way we hope to create more excitement around and credibility for ethnographic film to theoretically present and question all aspects of culture, class and society.

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