Bizarre Magazine No:49:
Mind the Reality Gap
iain aitch

The Space Hijackers are not intergalactic pirates, nor are they the grey men responsible for that rectal probing that no one believes you about - they are actually London-based pranksters who take over various spaces in the city. The group reclaim urban spaces for art projects and practical jokes on the public or the authorities and then swiftly leg it to observe the results of their subversion from a safe distance. Th projects are usually subtly subversive rather than in your face, but this often adds to their acceptance and believability.

The groups first outing, in March 1999, involved hijacking a carriage of a circle line underground train and using it to throw a party. One hundred and fifty guests attended the bash, which lasted one and a half circuits of the circle line before all concerned got dizzy and headed for the pub. Messing with the tube is a favourite of the conspirators and projects have involved an unsettling experimental pedestrian scheme at Brixton as well as some inspired detournment of London Transport safety posters like; "Mind your head when bunking the fare".

Some of the more ambient, projects include messages on top of bus shelters and a recent attempt to evacuate the City of London by placing a large 'run this way to escape' sign on an empty plinth outside the Lloyds building. "The main idea is to make up little stories in public space to claw a public ownership back" says Space Hijackers spokes man Robin. The group has a hardcore of half a dozen activists, but around 100 'agents' who can be called out to help.

One porject the agents will be helping out on is 'Starbucks Musical Chairs', which the group will be playing this summer. The idea is to occupy as many vacant seats as possible in branches of every rioter's favourite coffee chain as a protest at their presence on what seems like every street corner. Players get points for each type of chair they sit in but are disqualified if they crack and buy a Frappuccino. Winner is the first to 100 points who must then shout "Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks!" and everyone dashes out the door.

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