On the afternoon of Feb. 8th, the first day of the “snowageddon” in so-called Seattle, Washington, some anarchists took advantage of the wilds’ disruption of everyday life and constructed a snowperson on occupied dxʷdəwʔabš (Duwamish) land. As the civilized, industrial, capitalist, infrastructure of the city seized up with ice, the oppressive geographies of work, school, and the markets were rendered inert. Recognizing opportunity in the “crisis”, these rebels reimagined productive activity as a site of play and pleasure, producing cultural images not as a school assignment or ad copy, but as something to be enjoyed for its own sake. In the words of the revolutionary and academic Murray Bookchin, they “colonized the realm of production” with the “realm of play.”
Counteracting the Spectacle of the snowperson, an image constructed and re-presented with commodities like pipes, scarves, and carrots, their (re)presentation was made entirely with foraged material. Refusing to propagate the colonial nature-culture dichotomy in their own communities, they appropriated a City of Seattle traffic cone alongside fallen Douglas-fir branches to use as attire.
In Western aesthetics, the cone hat was and is propagated as a marker of the mental Other, the mad and foolish; the most common modern re-presentation is the “charlatan” schoolchild bearing a dunce cap in time-out. Here the image is reclaimed by an act of détournement: the image of the cone is (re)positioned outside of the geo-oppression of the school into the free space of Ravenna Park, where the combination of “wild” open space and snowing-over of pathways facilitates free movement across all planes. It is hoped that by détourment, play is encouraged by the snowperson’s secondary representation of youthfulness, bringing parkgoers away from their designated paths into creative dérives.
TO EVERY PERSON AND EVERY DAY AS FREE AS A SNOW DAY!