Gnome Not Dead Yet. 60s Dutch Provos / Kabouters Get a History (in English)

PARIS IS BURNING – AGAIN. (In case you hadn’t noticed.)

So, quick flashback to 60s Europa. After a decade of agitation & sexy theory journals, the Situationists of Paris helped instigate May 68. Everybody’s heard of May 68… no?

Meanwhile, just over in Amsterdam, a gaggle of Dadaistic anarchos had formed a separate / parallel movement, “Provos”.

As the fefault story goes, the clique of avant-rabblerousers wanted to show the world how authoritarian the Dutch government was in reality, despite the rosy mythology of Amsterdam free-livin. Thus, they organized happenings to goad the cops into violence. “PROVOcations.”

Also, famously, they disrupted a wedding procession of local royals.

Provos also instigated the Barefoot happening at a central square in Amsterdam:

““Blote-voeten-plan” (BareFoot Plan) was a protest against the addicted consumer (confection shoe), obstruction of freedom (the boot), hypocrisy (put your toes away), unhealthy city-atmosphere (sweaty feet), inability to communicate (the sole prevents contact with the earth) and creativity obstruction (narrowness in the shoe).” Happening-News-no-1-1965-2

As for the Kabouters, they were a more obscure spinoff or continuation of Provo playfulness into the late 60s, 70s. They adopted a gnome as their icon/mascot.

Kabouter Krant was one of their zines. Lots of ridicule of Dutch politicians. Something called “Orange Free State.” Also, apple symbolism (Eris’ apple?).

Autonomedia does us the favor of translating into English a short history of the Kabouters, by one of the original troublemakers, Coen Tasman. (But not yet listed on the catalog site. They do have an earlier book on Provos.)

This is just a placeholder post, as we really don’t have enough of a grip on the nuances of Kabouter history to say more right now. However in 2021, there was a procession in the town of Spui to install a gnome statue in the town square. So the spirit lives on.

Check out some of the related media below.

More infos in Dutch here —

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