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1. The Art Strike leadership is made up of predominantly White American and British Middle-class males (to obfuscate matters more they sometimes use women's names as AKAs). These men do not survive via wages or salaries from the art world they criticise. Will they strike and condemn the capitalist occupational (mainly white collar or service industry) structures that provide them with their livelihoods in solidarity with striking artists?

2. With no Artists' Union how can there be a successful art strike?.

3. What is Art Strikes' relationship with Labour Culture and Labour Unions? Is it an appropriation of Labour terminology or has Art Strike initiated a dialogue with working people?.

4. In showing an Art Strike booklet to a young African- American student she said to me, 'Why, they've been doing that in the projects for decades.' Does the leadership realise the inherent class, racial and larger occupational structures of privilege, that form and limit their peer group?.

5. Do they plan to address these larger issues of predominant culture along with those of less visible, yet more radical culture, since their current sexual, racial and class tendencies seem to now preclude their participation in those cultures, or will they remain elitist?.

6. What is Art Strike's relationship with and commentary on the Cultural Democracy Movement, the AIDS ACT-UP coalition, Art Against Apartheid, Art Against AIDS and other activist groups that use art and performance in Dissent?.

7. Art Strike leadership offers us a perceptive analysis of the art industry's co-option into the spectacle of advanced Capital but only the vaguest inklings of how to survive or practice culture outside or in opposition to this Spectacle. Can you be more specific?

8. Does the Art Strike also realise their focused critiques of the art world are delivered in the language of that world and are thereby appropriated to the Spectacle of that same world?.

9. Will Art Strike leaders become involved in any direct organising outside of pamphleteering and annual exhibitions?.

10. What are the resources of the leadership?.

11. Why the anonymity?.

12. Does the leadership of Art Strike naively anticipate a spontaneous anarchic uprising in the social/occupational group of the art world at any time? Does Art Strike use this fantasy as an excuse to avoid a commitment to union organising and leadership?.

13. The artists you would desire to strike won't_ being the commercial artists and organisations they are satisfied with their participation in the Spectacle of Capitalism because they reap its benefits. To my knowledge you have usually lobbied only the alternative non-profit liberal art world, who will support your intentions, but not to the point of joining you in any action as radical as a strike. Artists any further to the left, along with other disenfranchised groups, are usually excluded from the art world system you have targeted, and for all practical purposes have been 'striking' for years, please comment on this contradiction.

14. As a satirist and a cultural organisation administrator whose actual food and rent comes from the art world, your laissez faire and cynical intellectualism offers me, and I assume others, no incentive to strike. You seem both incapable of providing leadership, succour, resources, radical alternatives to the current structure, or most importantly solidarity with other workers. Please offer us further definitive strategy.

15. Your critical commentary is appreciated although I know the Art industry sucks. But I also know that the Real Estate industry and the Military industry suck. Why don't you try to get them to strike?

Marshall Webber


'I'm a microscope on that secret place where we all want to go..." The Mekons.

Really almost no one is arguing against the Art Strike on its own terms. Who is against liberty? But the strike is far outnumbered by people too fearful or cynical to make that equation, or to realise that the Art Strike as it's been formulated is incapable of hurting a cockroach, or an artist. It would be fair to say that the organisers of the strike are so obsessed with preventing individual accumulations of power that they have guarantied the strike's marginality.

The Art Strike is, in fact, a wholly benevolent, if inefficient, tendency devoted to gift-giving, correspondence, and doing good deeds for the community, sort of like a non-hierarchical Lions or Kiwanis club. The apocalyptic rhetorical style favoured by many strikers I am not innocent is just our version of grandiose titles, secret handshakes and ornamental robes. Or rather, that is how it would be viewed if the strike were successful, which is to say if the techniques by which artists and other in-groups alienate themselves were to be rendered impotent by a mass rejection of the practice. The Art Strike cannot do other than eliminate itself along with the other crap. We always said the Art Strike was the worst idea ever, we made posters that said so. Yet it was so much more attractive that the workable, 'realistic' ideas that it opposed. This embrace of absurdity was one of several liberations I experienced during a year long experiment that was also at times boring, circular, frustrating and tedious.

Obviously the Art Strike lacked the commitment, energy, appeal and public relations of Dada or Punk, which may only mean that it lacked a money angle, but I insist it was, like those, a magic phrase, the mere incantation of which could stir violent antipathy in some and almost instantaneous gut comprehension in others. There was a short period during which the words 'Art Strike' were truly my words, and during that period I was able to step up in front of a group of people without any preparation and command their attention in a way that I never could before or since. I understood in my guts that nothing was true and permitted myself to say anything. I blithely advocated at least five separate platforms depending on the mood and the company. I contradicted myself wildly, in the belief that paradox is where language warps because it's gotten close to reality, and that certain contradictions in the text can be the doorways out of it. Whenever I became insecure about my image, I could feel the energy dissipating. It was only then that anyone ever looked to me for leadership.

I burned out on the discussion after a while and lost my natural grasp of its essence, a grasp which had enabled me to carry on long, valuable discussions without feeling that I had to win each point, a habit of mine that kills conversation and makes me a monologuist. The right thing to say is of course the thing that contributes to the flow and energy of the discourse, and the pleasure of saying the right thing is sublime. One time a friend commented on how frequently I was saying the right thing and naturally that stopped me.

The other joy of the Art Strike was the way we dealt with written text. Anything anyone wrote about the strike immediately became common property. I saw my phrases appear without the slightest disjunction in other peoples' writing and I freely incorporated theirs. Hardly anything was signed. This approach was not taken out of a desire to mystify, but out of an honest recognition that the force which made the strike work, to the extent that it did work, was not the contributions of individuals but the simple fact that we were acting in community, that none of us knew anything about the Art Strike except what we had worked out together.

I have focused on the success of a few personal interactions instead of 'dismantling the dominant cultural apparatus' because, to make it as plain as possible, that's what it's all about. The dominant cultural apparatus is in our heads and its function is separation. It makes us lie to each other, exploit each other, compete with each other and fear each other. Art Strike as a proposal functioned as a wake up call, saying in effect, that even artists adhere to a sense of the status quo, unconsciously assuming privileges and burdens that might better be shared equally by all. Art Strike as an event, if it could be truly realised, would be more terrifying and beautiful than any work of art. And it would change the world.

Aaron Noble, December 1989


I thought we already had one for the last decade.

I believe the local galleries have 3 years worth of dead artists' work already stockpiled.

LeRoy Neiman endorsed it.

It will do nothing whatsoever.

It is a parody of strikes; how about artists supporting real strikes? If you want to press an issue, you have to start with small actions and build momentum; then you can do big ones.

There doesn't seem to be any affinity or outreach with labour unions, homeless activists or others fighting for change. It is thus isolated and NO strike can succeed without public support.

I'm operating under the assumption that the mainstream culture has already collapsed. We've got video cameras, monitors, printers, tape recorders etc, what the hell do we need from mainstream culture?

The 7.0 Loma Prieta Art Strike was enough for me.

Fred Rinne, October 1989


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