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STEWART HOME INTERVIEWED BY SIMON REYNOLDS - EXTRACT
(_) I nearly missed Stewart Home, caught him just days before he began a three year 'Art Strike' from 1990-1993, during which he'll neither produce nor discuss any work. Again, it's a 'borrowed' idea.
"I read about this artist, Gustav Metzger, who'd declared a cultural strike between 1977-80, and thought 'Why don't we have one?' And I've been planning it for five years. The idea is so ludicrous, it's really funny. Metzger's idea was that after three years, the bourgeois art economy would collapse and artists could return and dictate how their work was received. But of course, artists are all in competition with each other for sales and gallery spaces, so it never worked. I just wanted to attack this idea of the artist who works incontinently, has all this creativity spewing out uncontrollably. I wanted to demystify the process. Coz being an artist isn't this magical process.
In order to go on strike, Home first had to become an artist 'It was like a dare. I'd been in punk bands, got bored and then decided to apply the 'anyone can do it' idea to the art world. I started on the avant-garde fringe and then brazened my way into doing straight gallery installations. I wanted to see if I could legitimise myself. .
'The thing to remember about critics is that they go along to review an exhibition and if your programme notes sound plausible and they can just lift your words, they're more likely to review it. So I found that how you write the press release, how you use theory to bullshit and intimidate the gallery owners, was crucial. All this negotiation has to be undertaken before something is accepted as 'art.' And I pulled it off.
'I'm "legitimate:' the British Council paid for me and my collaborators to take a show to Sweden. I've got press cuttings, art journals in America write to me asking for theoretical pieces. The annoying thing is that I'm going on strike just when I've started making enough money to live on it. But I'm glad to stop really. Having a career in art is boring.'.
What will you do?.
'Well, coz I've been so involved in all this nonsense for five years, I've built up an enormous collection of pulp literature that's unread. That should keep me occupied.
And I'm looking around for a job. Trouble is, I'm over qualified. Most employers can't understand why I'd turn my back on being an artist.
Melody Maker, London 20/1/90
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