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Dear Governor Cuomo

Recently we have issued public commendations to both you and Commissioner Egan of OGS (Office of General Services) for your apparent participation in the noble, and global, Art Strike .

Obviously, you are more well-read than I had previously given you credit for. As things stand, precious few people seem to have any idea of what this Art Strike is all about. I am curious as to how you first became acquainted with the ideas and theories that have since come to represent the Art Strike in all its criticAL (albeit unknown) glory).

Do you intend to issue a public statement of alliance with the Art Strike? Would such a statement include a thorough denunciation of the elitist manipulation of humanity's creative energies as practiced by the cultural arbitrageurs known as "artists"?

As part of observing the Art Strike will you postpone the return of Art in the ESP (Empire State Plaza) concourse until January 1, 1993? If not, can you tell me why?

Sincerely, Neal Keating, for the AASAC (Albany Art Strike Action Committee).


Part curmudgeonly pranksters, part dead earnest activists against the intrusion of right-wing values on the art scene, those participating in the nine-month old Art Strike have had a hard time "enforcing" their call for a three year moratorium on art.

But earlier this month, the Albany Art Strike Action Committee garnered the support of the state Office of General Services (OGS) and Gov. M. Cuomo, however unknowingly this support may have been given.

When OGS removed and covered up the art collection in the Empire State Plaza (ESP) concourse, Art Strike moved in, postering the plaza and surrounding communities with a handbill declaring:

"All of the art that lined the walls of the ESP underground concourse has been removed or covered up (and hopefully soon to be destroyed) to call into question the blank emptiness of history that was previously hidden by so many bright colours and squiggly lines."

Actually, the art was removed to install a new security system, and OGS was not amused by the posters. Tom Tubbs, an OGS spokesman said he was "awestruck" upon receiving a copy of the poster. He dubbed the poster a "terrorist note... an absurdity, filled with typographical errors and irrational charges."

Tubbs wouldn't go into the specifics of the new-and- improved security system, but did say that it would involve "all kinds of camera surveillance, and several other devices." He also said that he had never even heard of the Art Strike, nor did Dennis Anderson, curator of the plaza art collection.

All in good fun, said Neal Keating, one of three local Art Strike dis-organisers. "The intent was to suggest something so wild that, even for one moment, it would shatter the silent drone of constant alienation that permeates every aspect of life today," he said in a prepared statement.

Keating, a writer who has recently relocated to Albany from Woodstock, said that "even people in high places, whether conscious of it or not, are supporting the Art Strike." Keating challenged Cuomo to "go one step further, and never put the art back up."

Tom Gogola, METROLAND, Albany, New York State, 20-26 September 1990


1. We are a group of sensual creatures who occasionally embark on acts of poetic terrorism for the purpose of liberating the wondrous and propagating the extraordinary. We encourage fully conscious orgiastic participation in life.

2. In particular, the ESP Concourse action was directly targeted at the walls of boredom both in and out of people's minds as they zombie their way through the monotonous underground cavern. The intent was to suggest something so wild that, even for one moment, it would shatter the silent drone of constant alienation that permeates every aspect of life today, and perhaps drive the beholder to seek out some more intense mode of existence.

3. The Empire State Plaza, like the Pyramids of Egypt, is the mausoleum of a ruling class with a taste for death. Part shopping mall, part warren for state workers, the Plaza is the marriage of commerce and power and naturally shows us baby pictures of their offspring: Art Art which returns to us for a look, (don't touch), the creative power we have only to reach out and wrest away in order to remake life as an adventure in fellowship, pleasure and play. By flaunting art, especially this collection of Art by the plutocrat Rockerfeller's cocktail party cronies, the ESP mocks and insults everyone whose life is eviscerated by obedience and work. The Empire State Plaza, with its outdated modern architecture, already looks as if it were built to be excavated, truly, as the Parisian revolutionaries said in 1968, "soon to be picturesque ruins" and the sooner the better.

4. That a successful Governor and probable presidential candidate would ever attempt to address the overwhelming horror the ghastly totality of civilisation, in any kind of honest and critical appraisal is, for the most part, beyond the scope of normal speculation. To put forth in a public manner such a suggestion is almost like declaring the existence of a parallel universe, only in much more human terms.

Thus we have acted. For the Art Strike.

Neal Keating, Bob Black, Pir Fez Hafez Ad-Dajjil.


There is no cause to speak, as Tom Gogola does, of the Albany Art Strike Action Committee "enforcing" the Art Strike. In a city boasting a combination art gallery and real estate office, the mask has already slipped. Even before our Empire State Plaza action, voluntary compliance with the strike was almost universal. Our ideas are in everyone's heads.

Nor do we care to protect art against intruding "right- wing values." Right-wing, left-wing or art-for-art's- sake, all art is a source of social separation and serves a control function. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into representation.

If (unhappy day) the art returns to the plaza, swept by cameras and laced with censors, the class war will have returned on the electronic battlefield. The curator will be dismissed he doesn't know his stuff anyway if he hasn't heard of the Art Strike and replaced by an electronics technician with a military background from the upper ranks of the Capital Police who have already paid us a visit. Henceforth we will visit museums to be looked at by the art.

Our challenge to Gov. Cuomo stands. Get rid of the art. Without such fantasies and distractions, the concourse architecture will quickly become unbearable. The empty walls will be so irritating as to require their immediate removal as well. After the art is gone, after the walls themselves have been removed, comes the concrete construction of momentary ambiences of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality. This is our entire programme, which is essentially transitory. Our situations will be ephemeral, without a future: passageways. The permanence of art or anything else does not enter into our considerations, which are serious.

Bob Black, Neal Keating. (AASAC).

Tom Gogola replies: I don't know how Keating and Black can claim that "voluntary compliance with the Strike was almost universal," when Keating himself told me in an interview that "the Art Strike has pretty much been a failure." When I said "enforcing" it was meant as irony, to illuminate the failure of Art Strike to achieve its aim of an artless world.

METROLAND, 4-10 October 1990

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