The Urban Gorilla Concept is an artistic, political, and anti social idea based around the reclamation of space and recalibration of the urban environment. Observing and experiencing processes that occur in every concrete jungle, Town Square, and abandoned factory the Urban Gorilla concept is a framework in which to view, and create various types of grass roots space interaction (from squatting and urban exploration, to graffiti and free running) and to act as a platform for the facilitation of greater space reclamation (a meeting point for all those wanting to engage with the landscape in a more meaningful way).
The wording urban gorilla concept is chosen for two fold reasons, firstly because the UGC is about struggle, resistance and battling against the powers that control the landscape around us, (famously the Urban Guerrilla Concept was a phrase coined by a variety of South American revolutionary movements and by the Red Army Faction in their struggle against state power in Germany and this name similarity is a deliberate choice by its authors to make a connection between space reclamation and revolutionary struggle), and secondly to attempt to portray the notion that for many of us the city has become our natural habitat (hence the animalistic reference).
The city is our natural habitat, we were born inside it and many of us will spend our last hours in the shadow of some monolithic glass and metal part of it. For us, lampposts are our trees, skyscrapers our mountains, and railway lines our winding paths through rolling hills. Where once the “hunter gatherer” meant carrying a spear and a makeshift bow, to chase down ones prey; today it means taking a bike and a torch to rummage through the waste of every consumer outlet. And yet, we have been forced into a position of disconnection to our habitat, confined to mere passive consumption of our surroundings. We are alienated from those lamppost trees; those skyscraper mountains because they belong not to us, like foxes on the ice plains of the artic our habitats belong to someone else. Ever they price us out of the communities in which we grew up through the gentrification process; whilst ever expanding their bland consumptive office structures and corporate cafes through the centrification process (the process of the centre of cities becoming bigger and bigger, to expand their business potential, whilst taking away residential habitat).
Beauty is in the street. For every bike punk sticker on a rusty lamppost, for every graffiti stencil in an abandoned alleyway, and for every shadow jumping across a rooftop there is a story. That story is a story of struggle against the ideology of passive consumption, of reclaiming the urban habitat (ever more becoming an urban prison) that has been built around us, and of resisting and combating the norms of spatial interaction. The first step is to kill the cop inside our head. The road bends left towards the shopping mall, as the crow flies our home is to the right, but the shape of the road dictates we must first pay homage at the alter of spectacle (the mall): what stops us jumping that wall, dodging through the car park of the shiny offices and slipping down the darkened side alley home- what restricts us is our own imagination of the possible. In combating reality, we must first understand why it is a certain way, the road bends left because the citizen factory requires that we go left- so go right and avoid its clutches if only for a moment. Like this, to be an Urban Gorilla is simply to challenge, to confront, to defy expectation. From the psycho geographer analyzing how a building is used, and by who, and why, to the small child painting a chalk hop scotch on the concrete outside his house, to the person imagining itself in a night time- time trial race across London on its cycle ride home from work: we can all be Urban Gorillas.
The citizen factory is everywhere and always against us: through cameras, wide roads with no escape routes, and fines on our imagination which they term trespass and criminal damage (whilst criminal companies plaster their ideologies of destructive consumption over our walls and trespass on our communities with skyscrapers and condom machines) they attempt to destroy us- their ideology must be everywhere or else it is nothing. As Urban Gorillas in ravaged habitats, we must constantly evolve, imagine, reflect and grow; where their advertisements are compulsory and everywhere our graffiti must be optional, replaceable, removable, and adaptable. Where their roads say turn left at the junction an into something particular ours must be a hundred different routes over roves, behind walls, between office blocks and into nowhere or anywhere whichever we like. We must make their cameras pointless by moving in places they don’t know or don’t see any reason for us to want to travel such roads- in sewers, in gardens, by canals, on roof tops we can find our liberation in evasion and active ignorance (ignoring the presence of cameras). Where they see meaning in objects only in so far as they create value (e.g. a lamppost is valuable in so far as it makes travel from the trendy club to home possible) we must see objects as part of our giant playground as a value in our fulfillment (the lamppost is a paint-able canvas, a climbable tree, a perfect post from which to hang a street volley ball net). Under the cobblestones is the beach, but we need not tear up the concrete to unveil it- we can built within it, recreate it until it is in itself a beach.
So let us run at night into the private square and paint a chess board on which everyone can play, let us turn the shopping mall into a dance hall, an amphitheater, a whatever the fuck we like, let us make that piece of corporate art a climbing frame and that water feature a swimming pool, let us make the urban jungle what it was always meant to be.
Climb to the roof of that abandoned building at the end of your street- I promise the view will be worth it.