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When reading about the Art Strike, one wonders what it really is. Is it just a puerile attention-getting device for a few 'artists' whose work would otherwise escape notice? Is it a stupid symbolic gesture, the product of anger against a defined target but with no clear plan of action? Or is it a serious response to cultural problems, which it has some chance of solving? The A.S. isn't any one of these, but a combination of all three. I think many of its contradictions are a result of taking itself too seriously. Around a kernel of an idea there are the encumbrances of ideology, elitist snottiness and the smug virtuousness of the Politically Correct. These distractions caused me to reject the A.S for a long time, and have probably caused others to reject it too. Another fault of the A.S. is that it doesn't carry its point far enough. Yes, artists enjoy an artificially privileged role in society, but they are not alone.

Writers, poets and musicians also get more acclaim than they deserve. This is significant since many A.S.

organisers have announced that, instead of doing art during the strike period, they will write or work on musical projects. Only one, to my knowledge, has announced that he will follow the A.S. directive: 'Give up art. Feed the starving.' It is disheartening that the ASAC lack the moral strength to enact what they preach.

Righteousness, demanding of sacrifice but only from others, they resemble another group of phony preachers televangelists. Could Stewart Home be the Jim Bakker of the avant-garde. I'm starting to think so.

All of this posturing should not be confused with the idea itself. When stripped of its extravagant wishful thinking, it's apparent that the A.S. wants change to result from the (in)action of individuals, and not the art world in its entirety. The art world will not give up its privileged status, that much is clear. If individuals, though, begin to question their role in it, then its effects on society are necessarily diminished.

Art, in the current cultural context, is noise. Some art might be interesting, or even subversive, but it is noise nonetheless. In response, artists can offer more noise, in the form of new 'art movements' or just more art, or they can offer silence. The A.S. is asking for this silence. In a time of constant bombardment with 'culture,' silence may be a welcome relief. If this is what the A.S. is after, then I support it.

I don't support, though, the A.S.'s political motivations. By inferring that the withholding of art will precipitate revolution, the ASAC is wrongly suggesting that culture consumption is a necessary part of society. This same error was made by the Situationists. It's unfortunate that the ASAC does not have the wisdom to recognise Situationism's shortcomings.

Colin Hinz

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