Anti-war protesters go naked
12th January 2003
Where it all began
Residents from Forest Row, Ashdown forest, staged the nude demonstration in the freezing weather. They linked up by lying on the ground to form the word peace.
The Guardian used the photo across half of the front page on Monday 13th Jan above an article headlined “Blair steps up war of words” The following day there was an interview in The Guardian titled “Anti-war strippers brave the ice” which looked at some of the reasons why this form of potest was used.
Even the Financial Times used the photo on page two!
There were also several radio interviews including BBC Southern Counties who conducted a live interview on the main evening news with questions focussed entirely arouond the reasons for the protest and opinions on the situation.
Using the simple power of herself, Hala Faisal, New York based Syrian-born artist bravely carried out a naked protest on her own with the words “STOP THE WAR” written on her naked body. Washington Square Park.
She said her protest, that took place in New York on 9th August 2005 in Greenwich Village, was symbolic of disarmament and was to protest the U.S. war in Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. “I know this is a metaphor, but it is the only way I feel I can protest the unjust occupations,” she said. “I do not condone violence this is a peaceful protest. I hope my efforts will not be misunderstood.”
Although she was arrested, a judge later dismissed the public nudity summons. Her single handed action resulted in much press coverage and debate both about the war and the human body.
No GM Milk
Untested and in here – Sainsburys GM feed week
On Sunday 12th June 2005, eight protesters stripped naked to expose the continued sale of products derived from animals fed on genetically modified crops. The naked demo preceded a separate week long series of events outside Sainsbury head office in London. The Milk Monitor website describes the campaign as “a week long extravaganza of street theatre & protests against GM animal feed”.
Photos here on Indymedia
World Naked Bike Ride 2005
500 naked cyclists round central London protesting against oil dependency, to celebrate the power and individuality of our bodies and also the vulnerability of cyclists.
The next UK ride will be on 10th June 2006 - more details here:
Make Room for More!
www.vomitorium2004.org New York, New York – On August 17th, 2004 from 7:30pm to 9:30pm New York City’s St. Marks Church was home to The Vomitorium, a performance/political action created by three local artists and their cast and crew of 60+ volunteers.
A response to the New and Improved American Empire, The Vomitorium is a theatrical performance, modeled after the opulent parties of the Roman Empire, where guests engage in consuming astounding amounts of food and, when stuffed to the limit, vomit so that they may gorge themselves again and again. For one evening the performers and audience were transported to those long-gone days of decadence in order to reflect on the fate that eventually befell the Roman Empire, and heed the warning signs of history repeating in the current decline of the American Republic.
The Vomitorium was created by three New York City based artists: Wendy Tremayne, ( http://gaiatreehouse.com), Marina Potok (http://marinapotok.com ), and Dawn Ladd (http://auroralampworks.com ). With an open call for participation, they began recruiting cast and crew in June, inviting all and any to express their feelings about imperialism through roles such as: Romans (paralleling contemporary influential Americans), servants, live statues, entertainers or to create roles of their own. The artists then structured The Vomitorium into a 2 hour loosely-scripted theatrical performance. During the evening, each performer, through their chosen character, expressed their views on the subject within the architecture of the piece
Images and Video: www.vomitorium2004.org
World Naked Bike Ride
Saturday, 12 June 2004
NO GM AMBUSH
16th November 2003
Bare Witness remind Blair and Bush in front of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben of what we regard as the biggest threat to us all – the forcing of GM crops and food on the world by spellibg out the words NO GM AMBUSH
Details here: No GM AMBUSH!
CNN Associated Press photo
Yahoo news (article offline)
The Independent, UK Picture of the article
Daily Express, UK Picture of the article
Metro, London, UK Picture of the article
East Grinstead Observer Naked truth behind GM crops protest. A first hand account of the action http://www.time.com/time/europe/photoessays/bushvisit/preparations/08.html Time magazine
San Francisco Gate (article offline)
The Seattle-PI (article offline) http://www.noticiasdenavarra.com/ediciones/20031117/que_mundo/index.php
Quadra News Brasil
Apple Daily, Hong Kong (article offline) Many Chinese papers reported it including these:
Kiwi protestors spell out the “naked truth” about GE
7 October 2003
The 11 naked bodies and one fully clothed woman spelt out No GE (GM) against the green grass, watched by half a dozen security guards. Protest organizer Valerie Morse said the naked protest was a metaphor for New Zealand, which she said could be “stripped bare” by genetic engineering. “We’ve got some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world and if we release GE into the environment we just simply have no idea what the effects are going to be long term,” she said.
Once again it shows how much can be achieved by even a handful of people prepared to Bare Witness.
Photos Anna Sutherland courtesy of Scoop More Photos at Scoop.co.nz
Why not just genetically engineer women for milk?
(Mothers Against Genetic Engineering in Food and the Environment) today launched a highly controversial billboard campaign in Auckland and Wellington to provoke public debate about the social and cultural ethics of genetic engineering in New Zealand.
The billboards depict a naked, genetically engineered woman with four breasts being milked by a milking machine, and GE branded on her rump.
New Zealanders are allowing a handful of corporate scientists and ill-informed politicians to make decisions on the ethics of GE. Our largest science company, AgResearch, is currently putting human genes into cows in the hope of creating new designer milks. The ethics of such experiments have not even been discussed by the wider public. How far will we allow them to go? Where is the line in the sand? Why is the government lifting the moratorium on GE when we have not even had a public debate on ethics? said Alannah Currie Madge founder and billboard designer.
Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest milk company recently purchased the patent rights to large amounts of human DNA from an Australian genetics company. (Dominionpost 15.9.2003) The mothers of New Zealand would like to know exactly what our milk company are doing with this human DNA. We at MAdGE want an assurance from Fonterra that they will continue to keep our milk GE Free now and in the future and not use human genes in cows to boost milk production. said Ms Currie.
We’d Rather Run Naked Than Eat Biotech!
13th July 2003THONG join International Food Technologist’s Conference in Chicago fun run!
Chicago-Demonstrators from local groups Genewise, Earthsave, T.H.O.N.G. (Topless Humans Organized for Natural Genetics), as well as local parents, students, and other concerned citizens, protested Kraft Foods’ (KFT-NYSE) use of genetically engineered ingredients July 13th at a Fun Run sponsored by Kraft.
Read the full report here: THONG
NO GM CROPSSunday 27th June Forest Row, East Sussex, UKWith the UK government claiming that it will listen to the GM Debate, many are suspicious that the it is just a ‘PR exercise’. George Monbiot said in The Guardian “that the government wants a ‘great debate’ about GM – we must call its bluff and do a Monsanto”. Our response to that is to use all means available to keep the debate at the top of the agenda. Read the press release here: www.there.is/forestrow/GM/Pictures and report on the NO GM CROPS event here The ongoing campaign in Sussex for a GM Free county: www.sussexgmforum.org.uk
More than 750 female protesters shed their clothing during the protest, lying naked end to end on a grassy knoll on a private property, to form a heart shape around the words “No War” for an aerial photograph. Reported here at the BBC amongst many others.
The snowstorm closed schools and delayed airlines, but didn’t deter 30 women who stripped for peace in Central Park at Bethesda Fountain. Braving 20 degree temperatures and heavy flurries, the anti-war activists ranging in age from 20 to 50 gathered shortly after 7 a.m. beneath a park overpass at 72nd Street, where they shed their coats, scarves, hats and everything else. Snow hits city, but naked protesters hit Central Park
Hope Valley, Derbyshire, UK 8th Feb
Photo courtesy Lewis Whyld
Fourteen people braved the icy winds of North Derbyshire today to spell out PEACE with their naked bodies. Cora Greenhill, co-organiser of the Hope Valley action, said: ‘In the face of a looming war in Iraq, we want our action to symbolise the fragility of life, the strength of community and our deep concern for the future of the planet.
War permanently damages the environment. The first Gulf War left depleted uranium in the earth and food chain of Iraq, with soaring rates of childhood cancers and birth defects.’ The Hope Valley group were inspired by ‘Unreasonable Women Baring Witness’ in California last month and by the similar action in the Ashdown Forest, East Sussex. Ms Greenhill said ‘We want to send out the message from this beautiful valley we live in and make a creative stand against the naked aggression of war.’
More Hope Valley photos here
Cape Town, South Africa 1st Feb
Early on Saturday morning a group of 21 valiant pacifists lay down naked for peace at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town. In South Africa the leaders strongly oppose the war in Iraq and President Thabo Mbeki is encouraging peaceful protests.
The African National Congress has called the country to action, to join the global day of protest on February 15. And our former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose opinions are respected worldwide, have come out strongly against war and for peace.
HELENA, Montana - 25 January 2003
Fifty women sang “Give Peace a Chance” as they lay in the snow in January in Montana! Outside of Helena, Montana, the women assembled on a cold mountain meadow and lay down on snow and prickly pear cactus to spell the word PEACE with their naked bodies Picture and story
NAKED PROTEST AT NAKED AGGRESSIONRather than stay at home in the warm, a group of 30 people revealed all to declare Peace Not War.Forest Row, East Sussex, UK – 12 January 2003 – The gravest global crisis since the end of the Cold War may be just a few weeks away, and most of us seem to be asking why someone else doesn’t do something about it.One group of ordinary people decided that there was nothing else for it but to bare all and send a message to the government – this is not the way to put an end to war.Taking off all their clothes, in mixed company, in the middle of winter on the Ashdown Forest with snow on the ground, was not something undertaken lightly. So why did they do such an unthinkable thing?
George Monbiot (The Guardian 7/Jan/03) wrote that “It is true that our chances of stopping this war are slight: Blair and Bush appear determined to proceed, with or without evidence or cause. But to imagine that protest is useless if it doesn’t lead to an immediate cessation is to misunderstand its purpose and power. Even if we cannot stop the attack upon Iraq, we must ensure that it becomes so politically costly that there will never be another like it. And this means that the usual demos will no longer suffice. ”
That is why this is the time to Bare Witness.
– ENDS –
Anti-war strippers brave the iceThe Guardian 14th January 2003Southern England was frozen on Sunday and what little sunshine there was didn’t take the chill off a wind that nipped into every nook and indeed cranny. It was a day for wrapping up rather than stripping naked and lying in a field. But 30 residents from Ashdown Forest in East Sussex took off their clothes and lay down to spell out the word “peace” to show their opposition to attacking Iraq. They obligingly held their poses for what felt like several hours while photographers dilly-dallied with light meters and lenses. The Press Association’s photograph appeared on the Guardian’s front page yesterday.”It was colder than it looks,” says Mike Grenville, who was the descender on the P. “The ground was icy, but it was actually warmer lying down than standing up.”Grenville, 56, who runs a text messaging association, said he was inspired to organise the event when he heard about a Californian group called Unreasonable Women Bearing Witness, 94 of whom earlier this month did the same thing, though in a milder climate. “I’m showing my age, but I kept thinking about the Rolling Stones lyric about going to a demonstration and venting frustration. That’s how I felt about it – if nothing else, we’re venting our frustration about the threat of war.”
He contacted friends and neighbours, many of whom were keen to join the project even if it meant going nude in sub-zero temperatures. “We were all a little bit coy about stripping off, but this is the biggest global crisis since the cold war, so we got over our feelings of embarrassment.”
The power of massed nude humans has been deployed before. In Lagos last year, women opposed to corporate exploitation stood nude for several days in a vigil outside Nigeria’s parliament (this inspired the Californian protest). American artist Spencer Tunick has enlisted 20,000 volunteers in seven continents congregating to be photographed nude.
Grenville says that he and his group Bare Witness are planning other anti-war protests that will be announced at www.barewitness.org. In the meantime, he calls on each British town and village to make a naked anti-war protest. If 30 people can spell out “peace”, the massed ranks of Birmingham or Glasgow could spell out a detailed nude rebuttal of the pro-war case. According to the forecast, it’s going to be milder than of late.
PEACE PROTEST ON ICY FORESTReported in the East Ginstead Courier. A front page article with photo.By Chris SteenbergANTI-WAR protesters stripped to the buff and used their bodies to spell the word “peace” on Ashdown Forest on Sunday.At a time when the prime minister was facing dissent in his own cabinet about the looming conflict in Iraq, the newly-formed group – Bare Witness – braved the cold to carry out its first public protest.
“We were very pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic reaction to what we did,” said Mike Grenville, 52, organiser of the protest. “The media reaction has been incredible. I think that we’re acting as a litmus test for everyone who is against this war, as there are obviously a lot of people who feel very strongly about it and have a desire to express their frustration in any way they can.”
Mr Grenville, of Upper Close, Forest Row, said that he had come up with the idea of organising the event only a week earlier. With the help of local artist Ursula Stone, of Post Horn Lane, Forest Row, they managed to gather 29 like-minded individuals to take part. A website is already up and running, encouraging others all over the country to organise similar events.
“There was a mixed response when we started asking people to take part,” said Ms Stone. “Most were very supportive of the idea, but many didn’t feel able to participate. But that’s why it’s such a powerful message, because people know that not everyone wants to lie naked on the frozen ground with people taking pictures of you.”
Before taking off their clothes, the group paused for a minute’s silence to reflect. The clothes came off before they lay down in their allocated positions, for photographers to do their jobs and broadcast the images around the world.
“We lay there for about three or four minutes,” said Mr Grenville. “It was hard for me to tell what I was thinking as there was so much going on in there at the time. It created a very powerful feeling, all of us lying there quietly. Some people started singing. It was actually a very moving moment.”
Capitalising on the coverage which the protest gained around the country, Bare Witness is now promising another event sometime very soon.
The inspiration for protesting against war in this unique way came from America, where a small group of people from a Californian back-water recently achieved national attention by doing exactly the same thing.
This had been inspired by the actions of a group of Nigerian women who, last year, managed to secure improvements to their village from Texaco, after taking over an oil refinery and threatening to disrobe.
“Shocking activities need shocking responses,” said Mr Grenville. “This has created a buzz everywhere, and it’s such a simple thing to do.