Piratbyrån, or the Pirate Bureau, were a group of Swedish artists, hackers and activists affiliated to the Pirate Bay, the notorious file sharing website that became a symbol of the fight against copyright. This small group made the multibillion dollar music and film industries tremble… then got bored, burned their manifesto and headed off on a series of road trips around Europe on rackety old bus.
“We decided to take our online experience and see what would happen if we put it into a stinky bus,” says former Piratbyrån member Palle Torsson. “It was such a concrete project on many levels and we made so many connections.”
After their bus journey came to an end and having become bored of the binary debate on copyright, the group dissolved in 2010. ‘Piratbyrån and Friends’ at London’s Furtherfield gallery commemorates the artwork, writings and adventures of this merry band of digital pranksters made over almost a decade of teasing the powers that be.
One of the key pillars of their philosophy was Kopimi; which goes beyond rejecting copyright and advocates that all information should be actively copied and shared. Piratbyran’s ideas had a huge influence on a number of artists, such as Evan Roth, whose work is also featured in the show.
“I’m an outsider or a latecomer to this group but that idea of Kopimi was a huge influence for me,” Evan explains. “You go to the Pirate Bay and at the bottom there’s this little logo. It’s still there and it’s these weird triangles and it’s this cryptic, mystic almost like religious symbol. I didn’t even know what it was for a long time, you know? And then you find out it’s this very simple idea but a very powerful one.”
‘Piratbyrån and Friends‘ is at London’s Furtherfield Gallery, London until Sunday, June 8.