[Seven by Nine Squares home page] [The Neoist Path]


from: Stewart Home, Neoism, Plagiarism & Praxis, AK Press, Edinburgh, UK 1995, pp. 23-24
Neoism was a cultural movement influenced by Futurism, Dada, Fluxus and Punk, which emerged from the Mail Art Network in the late seventies. The initial idea came from the US Mail Artists David Zack and Al Ackerman, but the fledgling movement found its focus in Montreal (Spring 1979). The Montreal group wanted to escape from the prison of art and change the world. With this end in mind, they presented society with an angst-ridden image of itself. Their activities are typified by Kiki Bonbon's film Flying Cats. Two men, dressed in white coats, stand on top of a tower block. They have with them a selection of cats. One at a time, the cats are picked up and thrown to their death. Throughout the film, the protagonists repeat the phrase 'the cat has no choice.'

The Neoists tended to use the mediums of video, audio and live performance. They developed the concept of Apartment Festivals as a way of showing such work. These were week long events based in the living spaces of individual Neoists. The first of these was held in Montreal in September 1980. Subsequent Apartment Festivals took place in Baltimore (twice), Toronto, New York (twice), London, Ponte Nossa (Italy), Berlin and Montreal (twice more).

By the summer of 1981, the centre of Neoist activity had shifted to Baltimore (Maryland, USA) and was focused on Michael Tolson (who worked under the names Tim Ore and tENTATIVELY a cONVENIENCE). Tolson is self-described as a 'mad scientist/d composer/sound thinker/ thought collector/as been & not an artist'. He is best known for his Pee Dog/Poop Dog Copyright Violation, which he performed on behalf of the Church of the SubGenius in September 1983. The event made national news when Baltimore police disco vered himstark naked beating a dead dog in a railway tunnel, with an audience of 35 people watching.

The Neoist Network held its first European Training Camp in Würzburg, Germany, in june 1982. This led to the involvement of the Scottish artist Pete Horobin, who went on to organise the 8th Neoist Apartment Festival in London (1984) and the 9th Neoist Festival in Ponte Nossa, Italy (1985).

However, after a few years of frantic activity, all the members of the small British group renounced Neoism. The last big Neoist event was the 64th (sic) Apartment Festival organised by Graf Haufen and Stiletto in Berlin, december 1986. However, with the withdrawal of the British section and apathy on the part of most North Americans, Neoism appears to be a spent force.