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What I do like about the Art Strike is that it's such a strong issue. It's got everyone riled up. Nobody feels wishy washy about it, people appear to be either gun-ho or angrily against it. The whole notion of the Art Strike forces us to think twice about what we're doing, examine the role of art in society, in history etc.(...).

I'm sorry, I have to laugh when I remember asking John Berndt what he was going to do during the Art Strike. I laugh as much at my own frame of mind at the time as I do about his answer, since at that time I hadn't really formulated any thoughts on the Art Strike, and was a bit in awe of the whole idea, especially the fact that some people actually were taking it seriously. John said that among other things, when 1990 came he was going to study electronics and I remember thinking, wow, maybe I should strike and start studying languages, or areas in science that have always interested me. But now its so clear that I am doing those things, not in a contrived manner, but in the natural path of my art life. If there had never been an art strike, I'm sure John, being an extremely intelligent person, would have studied electronics anyway at some point, and quite naturally have integrated it into his creative work.

Stewart Home, whom I see as the mastermind behind the Art Strike, has thought about language and its influence, and also about identity, but I think his emphasis misses the point... Home's major point... is that 'the avant-garde' manipulates language to form an identity for itself based on appearances of 'rupture,' 'difference' and 'refusal'... Home... stat(es) that "Marinetti's verbal attacks upon the artistic ideals of the past were never intended to be taken as anything other than the means for creating a symbolic 'rupture' with entrenched tradition.' As if physical action is the only way to change things. Home sounds like a militant anarchist here, but something else became clear to me.

I was intrigued by this last essay in Home's Handbook: I kept feeling that the crux of the Art Strike was hidden in it. Suddenly it hit me! The Art Strike is an art piece, deftly created by master Home, using all of us artists and our various responses to the strike as his materials. It really is a brilliant piece and as avant- garde as one could get: it's challenging, shocking, makes a lot of people think and has elicited strong reactions in a number of directions. The Art Strike is an art work riddled with ambiguity, hidden meanings, food for action and controversy. And, to use Home's own phrases, it has created and perpetuated its identity by language, by the printed word pamphlets, postcards, slogans and logos, articles, broadsides, even buttons! Home is doing with the Art Strike exactly what he appears to be criticising in the article, and he's doing it consciously! Confusing, eh? Ambiguous, even perverted, for artists are actually stopping their creative endeavours(...) Is it a movement 'backed up by physical action?' In a sense yes, but it's a negation, advocating 'physical' non-action. Paradoxically, the idea of not doing art teaches us a lot about art, just as John Cage's famous "4' 33" in masquerading as silence reveals the vast realm of sound. Again, whether or not he intended it as such (and the uncertainty is titillating), Stewart Home has created a big and important art work for the avant-garde.

The morning after I wrote most of this essay and began to see the Art Strike as an art work, we got a piece of mail which confirmed this vision. John Berndt sent us the latest Art Strike rhetoric: 'Critics Praise Stewart Home!' This piece is so obviously tongue-in-cheek, it doesn't even pretend to be serious. It made me see the Art Strike in yet another light: as a scam, a ploy, an imaginary event, a joke. And I think Stewart must be laughing the hardest, all the more when people take it very seriously. Not that the Art Strike is a totally empty joke: it has caused a huge stir, and will 'go down' in experimental underground history. Whatever it is, I am not angry at Stewart and his kin (how many of them see as big a picture of it as Stewart, though?), rather I am grateful for the food for thought, and for the opportunity to respond with our own movement the Art Glut! Long live Rhetoric! Long live controversy! Long live Stewart Home! Long live the Avant-Garde, and may it stay avant rather than derriere.

Elizabeth Was, circulated as an undated manuscript.

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