[The Seven by Nine Squares home page] [YAWN 16] [Art Strike 1990-1993]

A Personal Statement by Philippe Billé

I would like to criticize several points in this Art Strike (1990-1993) project. First, I disagree with some of the opinions formulated in its promoter's texts. For example, I do not believe that various forms of mischievousness, as greed, might be suppressed with the only and hypothetical abolition of the "capitalist system" of production; nor that the "unendurable" aspects of the human condition, that art would help us to bear, depend on our economic organization; nor that it is unjust to designate with a particular word: "artist", those who manifest certain particular talents; nor that it is deplorable the fact that "creativity" is unequally spread among the people. Moreover, it is impossible for me to consider, in the private sphere of my "artistic creation" activity, any idea of prohibition (just as I reject the idea of any obligation to create, such as it often appears in the activity of the profession artists and of the apprentices who aim at becoming so).

Nevertheless, there is without doubt much to deplore, and so to criticize, in the present sate of arts, culture and civilization: at least enough, I think, to make it possible to consider this unrealistic idea of the Art Strike (1990-1993) as opportune, even if only as a curse, or an invitation to reflection. Because the point is, first of all, to ascertain and to assert the notable distance which separates us pretty distinctly from the "art world". So, with the same meaning with which I declared in last June, at my 33rd birthday, that I wanted to "retire" as an artist, I accept to follow this (in)action movement: by refusing in advance, for this period, any new exhibition project; by limiting my publications to the minimum; by associating to it my collection, lately begun, of unopened mail, which gathers postal objects coming from the official, associational or commercial institutions, so as various letters of shabby canvassing; by studying the evolution of the debates raised in the American, free, and anonymous newsletter YAWN. One will allege against me that this is too easy. This is partly right. And then?

[Translated by Ph. Billé, reprinted from Lettre Documentaire, Bordeaux, December 1989