Taking it to the bridge
Not everyone treated CROSTOPI seriously. One old friend ridiculed the notion that the text had been produced by a committee of real live human beings, rather than by an isolated individual. "Face it, Hamilton" the friend barked at me at one party, "you're a one man literary movement! Your CROSTOPI is the intellectual equivalent of the United Future Party! You're Peter Dunne without the hair!"
But CROSTOPI did attract some supporters. After reading the manifesto's denunciation of the notion of New Zealand as a 'clean, green paradise' inhabited by happy hobbit-folk, and its call for the opening of grubby 'quarantined' regions like Limestone Country and Takanini Strait to the imagination, Paul Janman contacted me and suggested we make a documentary movie about Auckland's Great South Road. Our movie hasn't made it to the screens, or even an editing suite, but it has gotten us involved in some interesting sideprojects, like an exhibition at the Papakura Art Gallery earlier this year. Out at Papakura we filled a table with artefacts from the history of the Great South Road, and hid more treasures in geocaches that we stashed in roadside landscapes.
When Paul was asked to contribute to the Others Waters festival, which is designed to document and celebrate the history of Mangere Bridge and Onehunga, he decided to return to geocaching and to revive the name CROSTOPI. After creating a special 'Fabrication Faction' of the committee, which consists of an engineer, a welder, and two very enthusiastic children, he has begun (re)construction work on Mangere Bridge.
Here's the statement that CROSTOPI has contributed to the catalogue for the Other Waters festival:
With the help of abseiling engineers, CROSTOPI will install a periscope and geocache in the pedestrian underpass of Mangere's bridge. Besides providing mirror-assisted views of the bridge's foundations and surroundings, the installation will hold documents related to the two and a half year strike staged by the bridge's builders at the end of the 1970s.
Like the anti-Springbok protesters and the occupiers of Bastion Point, Mangere's builders were confronting Rob Muldoon's National regime. For many Kiwis Mangere's unfinished bridge symbolised the breakdown in relationships - between employers and workers, between state and subjects, between the possible and the actual - common across New Zealand and the West during the revolutionary '70s. By occupying the bridge and setting up continuous pickets, the strikers proposed their own solution to this crisis. Like the occupiers of Bastion Point, they wanted sovereignty over their rohe. The strike eventually ended, and the bridge was finished.
Standing on the underpass, listening to the endless rush of fixed capital, visitors are invited to ponder the miracle of collective labour.
You can find out about the Other Waters festival here.
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]