[The Seven by Nine Squares home page] [YAWN 1] [Art Strike 1990-1993]



We call for all artists in the U.S. to put down their tools and cease to make, distribute, sell, exhibit or discuss their work from January 1, 1990 to January 1, 1993. We call for all galleries, museums, agencies, alternative spaces, periodicals, theaters, art schools etc., to cease all operations for the same period.

Art is conceptually defined by a self-perpetuating elite and is marketed as an international commodity; the activity of its production has been mystified and co-opted; its practitioners have become manipulable and marginalized through self-identification with the term "artist" and all it implies.

To call one person an artist is to deny another an equal gift of vision; thus the myth of the "genius" becomes an ideological justification for inequality, repression and famine. What an artist considers to be his or her identity is a schooled set of attitudes; preconceptions which imprison humanity in history.

It is the roles derived from these identities, as much as the art products mined from this reification, which we must reject.

Unlike Gustav Metzger's Art Strike of 1977 to 1980, the purpose is not to destroy those institutions which might be perceived as having a negative effect on artistic production. Instead, we intend to question the role of the artist itself and its relation to the dynamics of power within our specific culture.

Everybody knows what's wrong

We call this Art Strike because, like any general strike, the real reasons being discussed are ones of economics and selfdetermination. We call this Art Strike in order to make explicit the political and ethical motivations for this attempted large-scale manipulation of alleged "esthetic" objects and relationships. We call this Art Strike to connote and encourage active rather than passive engagement with the issues at hand.


Art Strike will fail for many reasons, not the least of which is that it's a bad idea. But Art Strike raises a number of questions worth asking. Is there an attitude inherent in self-identification as an "artist" which implies that art-making is in itself a sufficient response to cultural issues? Is there an implication that the "artist" identity somehow absolves one from responsibility for cultural conditions? What are the possibilities for real engagement? This is not meant primarily as a critique of "art for art's sake" but rather as a critique of the perception that a class of artists exists as an independent social class. What are the priorities of the people who are calling for Art Strike? Does Art Strike, as a method for prompting dialogue concerning issues of personal productivity, commodity dynamics and cultural identity, conflict with the needs and priorities of artists who identify themselves primarily as feminists, hispanics, blacks, gays, etc.? Is Art Strike in any form a good idea?