One week of art strike activities in Alytus, Lithuania, 18-24 August 2009

The central HQ of the 2009 Art Strike Biennial switched constantly between Alytus Art School, Hotel Dzukija about five minutes walk away, and a bar-cum-restaurant located between these two venues in downtown Alytus. At the art school a lot of coffee was consumed, at the hotel innumerable bottles of wine, and in the bar industrial quantities of beer and cold beetroot soup. The Dzukija was an old school Soviet hotel, a concrete shell with stained glass in some of the public areas and cantilevered stairs between the floors. The building was absolutely crammed full of original oil paintings by official Soviet artists of yesteryear. In keeping with the Dzukija’s theme of Soviet nostalgia, the maids would leave overflowing bins in the bathrooms and failed to replenish toilet paper; all of which created a very relaxed bohemian atmosphere.
Perhaps the most interesting innovation art strikers brought to the Dzukija Hotel was the introduction of an ‘anarchist orgy suite’ on the second floor. This was a bedroom that had been assigned to a visiting anarchist from Vilnius (much of the Vilniaus Anarchistai group was present), that was put to collective use. The keys to this room were left permanently in the lock on the outside of the door, and according to unsubstantiated rumour anyone could go inside for ‘fun’, but  in doing so risked being locked-in. As far as I’m aware the only person to end up trapped in the ‘orgy suite’ was the Italian autonomist Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, and when he was finally freed he announced casually in English: “I’ve just had an adventure’. He was locked in on his own, so this incident provides no evidence to back-up the endlessly whispered rumours about ‘orgies’ taking place in the room.
Aside from the Vilnius anarchists, Saulius Užpelkis was perhaps the individual most involved in engaging Bifo in ongoing political debate over beers. Although originally from Vilnius, Saulius has been living in London for the past year and he numbers among those recently denounced in The Sun for holding orgies on the roof of their squat in Poplar. I had a long discussion with Saulius about this and came away with the unsurprising view that the tabloid coverage I’d seen was not very accurate.
Bifo gave a couple of public talks during the Art Strike Biennial, but I found his bar room conversation even more enthralling than his lecture style. The first of Bifo’s official talks dealt with the development of radical media strategies from the seventies to the present: he stressed the difference between the serving up of information by the mass media, and his own desire for real communication. The second talk was based around precarity ‘theory’, and since I’ve argued against Alex Foti’s version of this ridiculous notion elsewhere (with regard to the Copenhagen riots a couple of years ago), I won’t go into it here. That said, while Bifo has taken up precarity ‘theory’, I nonetheless see his thinking as being way superior to Foti’s overall; and he is also a charming, delightful and very likable guy.
The key figure in leading discussion at the art school was Redas Diržys, and he worked hard at integrating the out-of-town strikers with the local teenagers also in attendance. What finally united the various factions was not so much theoretical debate, as practical activities. On Wednesday afternoon there was supposed to be a propaganda workshop. However when I turned up for it with my old friend Lloyd Dunn, the anarchists ‘running’ it had disappeared. I hauled Redas Diržys out of an office and we had a discussion about whether or not there should be an approved set of slogans for demonstration banners. In the end we agreed that those making the banners could use any slogan they wanted, but that all slogans would be translated into Spanish. Among the slogans I contributed was ‘Fly LSD’.
The Spanish banners were used on both a demonstration and a monstration, with around 50 art strikers marching around Alytus to the sound of banging drums and chanting in Lithuanian. The demonstration stopped in the town square for political speeches and a song in Estonian from Reiu Tüür. On the monstration art strike balloons were handed out to passers-by, and the march stopped in the town square for a game of Simon Says orchestrated by Charlie Citron. The demonstration and monstration were organised on consecutive afternoons and at both events marchers wore special art strike picket line clothes designed by Stephanie Benzaquen and Rotem Balva; these had been run up by local tailors. Meanwhile local sensibilities were simultaneously flummoxed by street paintings that had been executed by Nathan Crothers and Reiu Tüür.
After the demonstration on Thursday, there was an unofficial boating trip at a local lake that had lost most of its water, resulting in rowers frequently running aground. Martin Zet and Stefan Bohnenberger played leading roles in these almost water-borne activities.  Following the monstration on Friday, a scratch orchestra came together to play improvised music outside Alytus Art School. This was followed by an after dark film screening on the outside wall of a derelict cinema.
On Saturday morning there was a game of three-sided football, with three teams and three goals. The triolectical anti-sport was followed by Mantas Kazakevicius demonstrating how to use a Reichian cloud buster, then the strike wound down with a wine tasting organised by Kurt Ryslavy and Natalie Yalon. Naturally Saturday night concluded with an over-the-top party in the Hotel Dzukija, which is a good way of reminding ourselves that while we’re demolishing serious culture we should have a smile on our lips and a song in our heart.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by abscjbjk on 2009-08-31 22:19:27 +0000


Comment by Zen Master K on 2009-08-31 23:44:34 +0000

From art strike to mind strike and then enlightenment – no mind is best!

Comment by Mike B) on 2009-09-01 00:52:27 +0000

Did somebody say, “Without dead time…”

Comment by The Real Tessie on 2009-09-01 01:23:09 +0000

You’re having us on when you claim you don’t know what was going on in the anarchist orgy suite. I know you and you won’t have been able to stay away… so you’re really gonna catch it when you get home!

Comment by Brian Wilson on 2009-09-01 07:02:54 +0000

I wish they all could all be Lithuanian anarchist girls…..

Comment by The All New & Utterly Fake Martin Zet on 2009-09-01 08:31:00 +0000

Lloyd Dunn & The Tape Beatles rock!

Comment by Martha Cantsin on 2009-09-01 09:54:41 +0000

don’t think of scabbing – strike now and you’ll last longer

Comment by David ‘Oz’ Zack on 2009-09-01 10:58:04 +0000

Strike now or be condemned to forever walk the earth as a postmodern zombie!

Comment by Lauris Blaumanis on 2009-09-01 11:59:51 +0000

There were 14 girls during the anarchist orgy suite time.
Around 1pm the following day I met S. He was in word strike.

Comment by Anarchist Riot Grrrl on 2009-09-01 17:53:22 +0000

any dude obnoxiously chasing skirt found themselves locked in the room, we tricked the leery geezers with our rumours – another small victory in the feminist revolution….

Comment by Roddy Hunter on 2009-09-01 20:11:56 +0000

Hail the Art Strikers (especially Redas)! I just completed my own year ‘without art’, no performances from 23 August 2008 – 23 August 2009, nearly ready to start again … last art strike meeting was great, especially Lloyd Dunn writing a manifesto announcing and dissolving the Alytus Art Strike Action Committee! Bloody success …

Comment by Anna Balint on 2009-09-01 20:15:14 +0000

Great monstration! you seem to be really militant strikers. I read meanwhile as strike activity Oscar Wilde’s The critic as artist. On the importance of doing nothing.

Comment by msmarmitelover on 2009-09-01 22:09:38 +0000

So you were on holiday!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-09-01 23:45:20 +0000

I was on strike!

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-09-02 06:07:23 +0000

I was once locked in an orgy room all by myself as well. It was the most fun I’ve ever had! Too bad it only happened that one time …

Comment by Michael Roth on 2009-09-02 06:09:23 +0000

Bifo’s talk on radical media strategies sounds interesting. What was his take on it? Any text or audio available, that you know of?

Comment by Lauris Blaumanis on 2009-09-02 09:58:57 +0000

An anarchist girl made a video during Bifos speach.
But later we coudn’t find her. She got lost in the forest.
She also didn’t appear at the orgy-suite.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-09-02 11:01:25 +0000

Marija who shot most of the video was around all week, she also had an amazing collection of short dresses… I think if you check the first link above and go down through the blog you might find something… there is certainly stuff about Bifo. I found the talk a bit schematic and would have rather heard about what he did with Radio Alice… he also gave me the impression towards the end that he wasn’t too familiar with the current state of the internet….

Comment by Evelina Sliogeris on 2009-09-02 11:38:09 +0000

Radio Alice 1976-78! Old stuff!!!

Comment by meastro on 2009-09-02 16:37:28 +0000

at the TAGS mr berardi appears 3 times. why?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-09-02 20:30:50 +0000

Because there are three common ways of rendering his name…. I didn’t even use the variation on the Art Strike Biennial material (or indeed the one you use)…. I always use common variant versions of names in tags as you’ll see if you look back through the other blogs, because different people search in different ways and this makes it easier to find material…..
And Radio Alice may be old stuff but that doesn’t mean there aren’t historical lessons to be learnt…. it is certainly more interesting than explaining Web 2.0 basics to someone who doesn’t understand them….

Comment by tvo on 2009-09-03 08:39:50 +0000

Web 2.0 is a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and its hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web.

Comment by RB ME on 2009-09-06 11:20:20 +0000

some people can say that it doesn’t matter if there was an orgy room
and if BIFO was locked in it all alone, or not.
but, for me it does matter , because this is a symbol of an iconic presentation :
we are all locked in a artificial post Communist orgy room of our cultural practise and its stink! of old hard towel with very strong smell of hard core “sweet&clean” fabric softener.
love to have a real freash air
PLEASE can someone tell , is there a place outside of this room and how is it there?

Comment by Evelina Sliogeris on 2009-09-06 15:01:21 +0000

to RB ME
No, but you can start to create one!
Like other do, Redas, Bifo, Stewart ect.

Comment by RB ME on 2009-09-06 16:15:08 +0000

to Evellina Sliogeris
yes , i looked at them but
look what happend to BIFO when he visited in Alytus at Redas art strike,
he find himself locked in the Orgy room, all by himself!
i dont know……..
there is a riddle

Comment by Evelina Sliogeris on 2009-09-06 17:48:35 +0000

to RB ME
When Bifo arrived, Stewart looked him into the orgy suite.
Stewart roots are marxistic dialectic dockworkerlike.
Bifos deleuzian guattari trialectic.
Stewart tried to prevent Bifos lecture.
But Bifo was italian high jump master 42 years ago, so he thought:
if I can jump high, I also can jump down (from the orgy suite at the second floor)
Thuesday 16h he gave his speach at the Alytus art school.

Comment by other anarchist girl on 2009-09-06 19:33:32 +0000

B. was locked in a day-time and for none of the crazy situations you’re all dreaming about. muahaha:) and all videos made by marija are planted here –

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-09-06 22:58:19 +0000

other anarhcist girl is right, also Bifo was locked in after he gave both the lectures and just before he was leaving for Helsinki… he got out by banging on the door and eventually someone heard and let him out by turning the key which was still in the outisde lock. I wasn’t in the hotel when Bifo was locked in and I’m not interesting in trying to prevent his lectures… they’re a little old fashioned by that’s alright – that dualistic deleuzian guattari po-mo shit is so 1980s…

Comment by An anarchist girl on 2009-09-07 14:42:14 +0000

I was with Bifo looked in.
He was great, really fresh.
He transfered deleuzian guattari trialectic into 2009.
It appeared as cincolectic!
No po-mo shit from the 80s! Sorry, mistertrippy!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-09-07 23:15:11 +0000

An anarchist girl. I’m not quite sure what accomplishments of Bifo’s you’re invoking here, but if you went to the first lecture he gave in Alytus then you’ll know that there he was very down on the internet, and I defended it; and since like me you’re using the web and leaving comments on my blog, that means in practice you’re siding with my positions not Bifo’s, regardless of what you say – since saying something does not make it ‘true’.
Bifo came across as more than a little old-fashioned in Alytus (but that’s alright – as Rod The Mod sang way back when). However, I’m sure he can make better presentations than the two I saw; probably he has already somewhere else but the lectures I attended were low level academic guff… I found it particularly hilarious that he should end the second by addressing me personally as a ‘Debordian’ and suggesting that not even I could disagree with his assertion that we should call what we were doing poetry rather than art. It should go without saying that I’ve spent 30 years developing a materialist understanding of art; and in part because as a teenager I couldn’t stick the idealist slippages that led the Debordist faction of the Situationist International to theorise revolution as ‘poetry’ – unfortunately these extremely retarded positions were taken up by many within the revolutionary milieus both Bifo and I frequented in the late-seventies. But it is sad indeed that in Aytus in 2009 Bifo would advance such tired and discredited shit as something new, and something I would have to agree with him on – when anyone who knows anything about me will know I’ve spent 30 years fighting this particular idiocy.
As I wrote in the introduction to an interview I did with Roger Taylor: “even Situationist slogans about the realisation and suppression of art were self-evidently idealist slippages that failed to advance on Young Hegelian positions of the 1840s. Indeed, given that the Situationists theorised revolution as poetry, it sometimes seemed they were reversing backwards into Hegel’s system; since within Absolute Mind romantic poetry is the highest category of art. Rather than advancing from philosophy to the deed, the notion of realising and suppressing art seemed to me more like dialectical atavism. Roger Taylor on art seemed a lot more coherent than Guy Debord. Taylor held to an anti-essentialist stance that insisted the only thing all art works have in common is that they are treated as works of art.”
And if you meant ‘locked’ rather than ‘looked’ in (which would make more sense to me), well I can’t comment, coz I ain’t been locked in a hotel room with Bifo… but I hope that when it comes to bedroom athletics he breaks more definitively with Freud than the sorry failure to make this move in full that characterises the silly texts churned out by Felix Guattari….

Comment by maestro on 2009-09-08 20:32:53 +0000

…you’re using the web and leaving comments on my blog, that means in practice you’re siding with my positions not Bifo’s…

Comment by maestro on 2009-09-08 20:40:41 +0000

…silly texts churned out by Felix Guattari….

Comment by mistertrippy on 2009-09-08 20:58:43 +0000

Anarchist Girl doesn’t have to side with me, but ‘she’ needs to understand what’s going on in order to take up other positions in practice as well as theory. Sure anarchist girl can say whatever ‘she’ wants but if ‘her’ statements are contradicted by ‘her’ actions then some people might choose not to take ‘her’ statements very seriously – as indeed has been the case with me.
And better to be an ‘arrogant beast’ than a ‘post’-Freudian drone… But then in my ‘philosophy’ arrogant means charming, delightful and hamster-like, so that’s what I’ll take it to mean here too. Perhaps you’re trying to illustrate Bifo’s point that communication isn’t possible on the internet – but then this isn’t his flipside either which was information. This seems more like opinion, which seems to equate with sensibility, something Bifo had lined up with communication – so in practice you are disproving what Bifo had to say in Alytus and thus siding with me against him regardless of whether you want to do so or not. And thanks for calling me arrogant: I’ve always considered myself charming, delightful and hamster-like too. Oh and in my ‘philosophy’ it infers having a great sense of humour as well!

Comment by SHF on 2009-09-08 21:33:05 +0000

Mr Trippy is one of the few people I know who is comfortable with existing in a state of contradiction and instability and how I envy him for it! I can vouch that he is indeed both charming and delightful but I have not witnessed the synthesis into hamster-like qualities. As Simone de Beauvoir wrote ages ago ‘Things become clear if we find in consciousness itself a fundamental hostility towards every other consciousness, the subject can be posed only in being opposed’ and therefore I see Mr T is both his own subject and object.

Comment by Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad on 2009-10-04 03:32:16 +0000

Maestro says — maestro says:
“…silly texts churned out by Felix Guattari….
Not really — I imagine perhaps, that Mr Home is probably just bored of people parroting the very same Post Modern,Post Frankfurt, Post Dada, Post Freud,Post Jung-ian,Post Marxist , Post Georges Bataille, Post Hegelian ,Post Situationist thinkers, again and again and again , as those ‘thinkers’ re-appear on the ‘fashionable to read’ cycle, or when they get republished.
I know I am tired of it — it all just gets so very boring, deeply conservative,unadventurous and predictable. It’s as if a lot of people now, just get their inspiration from an ‘allowable’ set/list of writers and thinkers, and from nowhere else.
Can’t people be more original , and look around for their own inspiration, a bit more ( be that inspiration fashionable or unfashionable, acceptable or unacceptable )?
To me, the current ‘worship’ of Alain Badiou represents part of that mind set — he’s dull, boring and to me, totally uninspiring.
Just my take on it anyway, for what it’s worth.

Comment by Howling Wizard,Shrieking Toad on 2009-10-04 07:04:05 +0000

Picking up on the banality of Badiou further ( if anyone is vaguely interested that is; they may not be ! ) , see the following link —
It’s not even that I disagree with him — I don’t fundamentally disagree. Most of what he says seems true enough to me, for what it’s worth.
But it’s the poor level of debate, the lack of challenge that concerns me with Badiou, the vacuousness at the core, under the wordiness that only thinly veils simplistic rhetoric : It’s just so ordinary, and so very cliched. It’s pub chat really, or the kind of thing you’d read people arguing about on Comment is Free everday on the Guardian webpage.

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