Earlier this week a friend of mine, Sardinian born artist and film-maker Claudio Fonnesu, who has lived in England since 2003, was arrested for attempting an armed hijacking of a coach on the highway from Bath to London.
Claudio, who was returning from a Summer Arts Fair in Bath had been hitch hiking but got caught in the rain. After a long time waiting, and frustrated by the vehicles that swept by without giving him a lift, he stepped before an oncoming Victoria bound coach brandishing a toy ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ rifle he had found in one hand and a BEN10 powerful water pistol filled with a mix of waters from the Roman Thermal Spa and and Fanta orange in the other. When the bus stopped, moneyless Claudio demanded a free lift to London. Instead of being amused and telling Claudio to hop in, the driver phoned the police and they arrived pretty sharpish.
“They came with helicopters and real machine guns,” says Claudio. “They slammed me to the ground, where I got a big scratch on my left elbow and I got OCHIALI ROTTI (Broken glasses) again, the expensive £120.”
After being held in Newbury Police Station for 24 hours, and still wearing the blue pyjamas issued to him there, choosing to be barefoot rather than wear the odd shoes provided (8 left and 9 left), Claudio was taken by a police car escorted ambulance to a clinic in Bancroft Road, Mile End, London, where is to be detained in Globe Ward for 28 days under section 2 of the Mental Health Act. There is the possibility that he may be held for six months under section 3, or he might face three years of jail for carrying a toy weapon.
So far there is no news of his bags, computer, mandolin and smartphone, and Claudio is nervous about losing the years of movies, music, writings and photography stored on his hard drive.
“I keep all my Wikileaks with me,” said Claudio. “They checked them, it took them hours to realise that the files are encrypted and I can only have access through a special server onion created by me. I asked many times to speak to the Italian Embassy and to get some paper and pen to write, but they refused whatsoever.”
Since then it has been learned that the Italian Embassy have refused to help him. Already he has been put on medication and is attending sessions such as the Music Therapy Group at 11 am, the Out &About at 12:30, the Community Meeting at 1 pm, and the evening activity from 5 pm.
Claudio is the events coordinator of the non-profit arts organization ‘Westdown Project’. It declares that “ART IS NOT ONLY ENTERTAINMENT, IT’S ALSO CIVIL EDUCATION. POLITICS AND ART MUST BE FUSED TOGETHER.”
One of their current projects is SQUART Magazine, which aims to produce work outside the mainstream of modern western art by “self-taught, untrained visionaries, spiritualists, eccentric recluses, folk artists, psychiatric patients, criminals and other beyond the imposed margins of society and the art market.” The motto of the collective is “BOYCOTT JOBS – ABOLISH MONEY – DESTROY BANKS!”
They are also preparing for the Street art summer fair ‘SQUART BANK BOM-ART-MENT’ on 17 August outside the Royal Exchange in the City of London, which calls people to “come together for some noisy fun in the heart of the City! Bring your guitars, drums, pots and pans, juggling balls of fire, paint brushes, colored chalks, and theatrical faces. Let’s show them how many we are, let’s bombard them pigs with our artsy stuff!!!”
It would be a shame if Claudio were not able to attend the event. If you’re in London please visit him at the Mile End clinic and give him your support. The number of the Globe Ward where he is being held is 02089831774.
Michael Dickinson is an artist living in Istanbul. He can be contacted at http://yabanji.tripod.com/