Rog factory is an industrial complex on the east edge of Ljubljana centre, which produced the famous Rog bicycles and was shut down in 1 991. Since then it has laid abandoned, empty, and in deterioration for 15 years. In 2006 the area was occupied by engaged students, artists and activists as a critical response to the post-socialist transition process (privatisation and de-industrialisation), and erosion of public and social spaces (individualisation and atomisation of society). The occupation pulled legitimacy from the need for places for non-formal artistic, cultural and political activity (autonomy, alternative culture, horizontal political organising).
Users secured and cleaned the spaces and established ateliers, workshops, galleries, a skate-park, concert hall, recreational facilities and social centres among others. Despite the municipal efforts to block or disable the grassroots activities (refusal to sign the legal contract for at least temporary use, and not allowing the community to tap into public electricity network), the users used their self-initiative, collaboration and resourcefulness and in 11 years created one of the main junctions of urban culture, critical thought and political activism on the level of the city, the state and beyond.
Where are we today?
Today, there are around 15 organized collectives and around 200 individuals active in the factory in 30 spaces that are relatively self-sufficient and autonomous. The community is bound together through assembly which is the main political body following the principle of direct democratic decision making and consulting.
The activities taking place in Rog can be summarized as:
- Artistic and cultural production - figural, contemporary, multimedia and performative arts, sculpture, graffiti, street theatre, circus, music production, ecological urban farming and permaculture, art theory, philosophy and political theory, etc;
- Recreational and movement activities - skateboarding, rollerblading and BMX-ing, kung fu, tai chi chuan, silk dancing, all sorts of juggling, acrobatic and other circus activities, break dancing and football, etc;
- Activism - grassroot political organizing, networking, education and training, direct actions and building of horizontal political structures, reading circles, simposiums, etc;
- Social and music events - jam sessions, concert, club events, experimental musical-performative-social events, picnics, gatherings, flea-markets, etc.;
- Handy craft - construction works, repair and assembly of electronic and music equipment, recycling and manufacturing of furniture, permaculture workshops, clothes exchange, dressmaking/sewing and traditionally - bicycle repair, etc.
Current state of affairs and threats of eviction
In the summer of 2016 the municipality tried to evict the factory with the use of security guards. In preparation for such an event and in reaction to it, a mass of people gathered and threw out the security guards from the premises of the factory. The whole event and its aftermath was covered by extensive national media coverage, especially the two month barricade ridden occupation of the factory as well as cultural and political festivities.
After the attempted eviction on the 6th of June 2016, eight individuals from the community of Autonomous Factory Rog (as the Assembly of Rog users couldn't be recognized as a subject of law) filed a lawsuit against the municipality of Ljubljana for its' violation of the propriety rights. The lawsuit argued that these individuals have the right of possession of the property on the basis of their 10 years and ongoing period of presence and activities in in contrast with the municipalities ownership of the property.
The court of first instance issued a temporary court order, granting Autonomous Factory Rog users temporary possession of their property and premises until the whole matter would finally be settled out in court. One of the reasons for the successful issuing of the temporary court order being was also excessive physical violence used by municipality's private security forces during attempted eviction in June 2016.
Enormous lawsuit trying to push us out!
Municipality subsequently answered with indemnity civil lawsuit against those eight individuals who filed a temporary court order (and propriety violation lawsuit) by suing every one of them individually with lawsuit's estimated value of 200.000€ each, trying to force us out by enormous legal fees we are forced to pay to the municipality's lawsuit, estimated at 4000€ - 5000€ each, totaling between 40.000€ to 50.000€ in the year to follow.