[The Seven by Nine Squares home page] [YAWN 21] [Art Strike 1990-1993]

Taking the Offensive: A Rant

In all the recent months of anti-censorship activities, amid all the talk, amongst all the articles, the letter writings, etc., there's been a noticeable lack of what I would consider one of the most important ingredients in this battle: propaganda. As far as I'm concerned, and in relation to my own visual art practice, the xerox machine is one of the most powerful weapons we as artists have available to us in the fight against censorship. It's cheap, quick and accessible. Much of what I will be addressing has the xerox machine in mind and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Chester Carlson, the inventor of xerography, for inventing such a revolutionary process.




If I was cultural czar I would declare a war for culture and I'd call it "A Thousand Points of Propaganda." And these are some of the things I would want to set up.

First of all we need to take a large leaf out the rights methods of operation: we need national organizing, national coordination and we need to compile the biggest fucking mailing list in the world.

We need to create a network of "Art Against Censorship" xerox image-banks that could serve as distribution centers across the country. These would be places where artists could send copies of their work which in turn would get distributed to anti-censorship groups. Anyone who attended the Urban Scrawl opening at Cheapart and the Armpit gallery (both in San Francisco) recently would have sensed the possibilities in this kind of approach.

We need to set up propaganda workshops where visual, etc., materials would be provided, and people could come together for an evening to create, party and then xerox the whole lot and hit the streets the same evening. This work could then be exchanged and distributed to other "Propaganda Workshops" throughout the country.

Put together a xerox booklet with images and text entitled "How to Answer 20 of the Most Difficult and Awkward Questions About Government Funding for the Arts". Something that would inform people in a straightforward way about the complex issues in this debate and facilitate them in countering the Right's arguments. Xerox in the thousands, distribute and encourage people to recopy it.

Set up decentralized Propaganda Combat Units that can quickly mount a cultural response to local and national incidents of censorship (ACT-UP and Boy/Girl Akimbo have created useful models).

Explore the potential and use in new ways all the other available duplicative technologies in this cultural offensive: fax, computers, modems, video, etc.

Finally, I would declare an all-out overt war whose slogan should be: Artists The New Freedom Fighters!

Stephen Perkins, San Francisco, June 1990