[The Seven by Nine Squares home page] [YAWN 29] [Art Strike 1990-1993]

Poetic Terrorism

The audience reaction or aesthetic shock produced by PT ought to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror-powerful disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive breakthrough, dadaesque angst-no matter whether the PT is aimed one person or many, no matter whether it is "signed" or anonymous, if it does not change someone's life (aside from the artist) it fails.

PT is an act in a Theater of Cruelty which has no stage, no rows of seats, no tickets and no walls. It order to work at all PT must categorically be divorced from all conventional structures for art consumption (galleries, publications, media). Even the guerilla Situationist tactics of street theater are perhaps to well known and expected now.

An exquisite seduction carried out not only in the cause of mutual satisfaction but also as a conscious act in a deliberately beautiful life may be the ultimate PT. The PTerrorist behaves like a confidence-trickster whose aim is not money but change.

Don't do PT for other artists, do it for people who will not realize (at least for a few moments) that what you have done is art. Avoid recognizable art-categories, avoid politics, don't stick around to argue, don't be sentimental; be ruthless, take risks, vandalize only what must be defaced, do something children will remember all their lives-but don't be spontaneous unless the PT muse has possessed you.

Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best PT is against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as art.

Weird dancing in all-night computer banking lobbies. Unauthorized pyrotechnic displays. Land-art, earthworks as bizarre alien artifacts strewn in state parks. Burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic-terrorist objects. Kidnap someone and make them happy.

Pick someone at random and convince them they're the heir to an enormous, useless and amazing fortune - say 5000 square miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical manuscripts. Later they will come to realize that for a few moments they believed in something extraordinary, and will perhaps be driven as a result to seek out some more intense mode of existence.

Bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private) where you have experienced revelation or had a particularly fulfilling sexual experience, etc.

Go naked for a sign.

Organize a strike in your school or workplace on the grounds that it does not satisfy your need for indolence and spiritual beauty.

Grafitti-art loaned some grace to ugly subways and rigid public monuments-PT art can also be created for public places: poems scrawled in courthouse lavatories, small fetishes abandoned in parks and restaurants, xerox art under windshield wipers of parked cars, Big Character Slogans pasted on playground walls, anonymous letters mailed at random or chosen recipients (mail fraud), pirate radio transmissions, wet cement...

Hakim Bey