[The Seven by Nine Squares home page] [YAWN 4] [Art Strike 1990-1993]


From Heloïse

Dear Heloïse:
I'm confused. Tell me, during the years of the Art Strike (1990-1993), what can I do with all the works of art I now have hanging around? Won't they be considered unsightly during this time? What will my friends think?
Confounded in Poughkeepsie

Dear Confounded:
You will never find the world to be a good place to live until you learn to think for yourself.

Dear Heloïse:
As an artist, I realize that my participation in the elite art world to date has essentially rendered my activity complicitous with the project of capitalism. But what will I do with my creative energies during the Years Without Art (1990-1993)?
Jaded in Jacksonville

Dear Jaded:
You apparently still cling to the myth that the artist "must" create in order to "survive". Such archaic notions are harmlessly romantic at best, and at their worst, they are the mechanism by which cultural workers are encouraged not to question the motivations and end results of the larger project in which they are engaged.

Creative energies can be channeled into any activity you can imagine. Imagine it now: this will take you some distance toward disavowing art as an activity that is somehow "special", somehow "superior" to other human activities. It must be obvious even to you that art making is, in itself, an insufficient response to social crises. I suggest you get your act together and strive for a new level of activism within culture as a whole, instead of remaining insular, debilitated, and self-referential.

Dear Heloïse:
How does someone who constantly thinks in terms of art-such as myself-participate in an Art Strike (1990-1993) in light of the fact that they might consider an immense number of practical, everyday objects to be art? After all, is not a can opener a work of art? And the clothes that we wear? The food that we cook? Does creativity not enter into all human activities?
All-encompassing in Anchorage

Dear All-encompassing:
Do not be mistaken: the Art Strike is directed against art in the Modernist and Post-modernist traditions, which brazenly proclaim that there will always be something to sell-even in the absence of thoughtful ideas or meaningful work. These artists cynically hold to the idea that the art which brings them the most money and fame is the best art.

Those objects which are the products of human invention need not be branded with the term "art" to be valued and respected as meaningful cultural acheivements, especially when they do not participate in the subjugation of a class of individuals.

Dear Heloïse:
I'm with you! The Art Strike (1990-1993) truly is the only way to show the bastards of elitism what we're made of! Plus, I finally have the time to paint that garage! The wife's been after me for years to get it done!
Eager for Inaction in Albuquerque

Heloïse says:
Right you are, Eager! Simply making this challenge goes a long way towards taking apart the mental set "art" and undermining its position of hegemony within contemporary culture, since the success of art as a supposedly "superior form of knowledge" largely depends upon its status remaining unquestioned. We need to abolish the myths whereby the powers-that-be focus the image of their own moral superiority. Art is the armchair in which these fat cats sit for their own pleasure and self-assurance. Art has degenerated into a sniveling sycophancy. It is our duty to reject these models.