Report from Art Strike meeting at Dartington, Summer Solstice 2010
Karen Eliot and I had planned to meet in Dartington so we decided to make it an open meeting as that weekend was both the Open Pop Star World Congress called for by Monty Cantsin as well as part of the month of remembrance for the victims of Foxconn such as Ma Xiangqian and Yun Li called by Students & Scholars Against Cooperate Misbehavior.
I was to traverse the so called “St Michaels” Leyline for much of the journey from Cambridge to Dartington. My son and I stopped at Stevenage on the line to pick up his mother and then met another Karen Karnak at Taunton further down the line before arriving at around midnight on Friday. My name Karen Karnak is of course a reference to the great pyramid at Karnak in Egypt and to the Hyperborean nexus at Carnac in France, chosen to disrupt the white supremacist designs of Evolan and Freemasonic groups that use the St. Michaels line. It was for this reason that evoL PsychogeogrAphix was summoned into being in Totnes in 2000 an event that the video Brown Julius in the Fountain of Modernism examines in some detail.
At Dartington, I happened across Gustav Metzger on Saturday and invited him to the meeting. He told me of a symposium where he was speaking as part of the Art Colleges final Festival before being effectively closed. I went along and met Monty Cantsin and Karen Eliot there and we confirmed plans for the meeting for the following day. At the symposium, much of the talking was about the content of the art degree and how it would continue at Falmouth. Gustav however spoke about extinction – which he sees as the most urgent problem facing us – and that we need to get a 5 year plan in place to stop the ever increasing rate of extinction of species. He cautiously suggested also that this is a worse holocaust than the Shoah.
He left the symposium early and we walked over to the graveyard where the meeting was scheduled for the next day. I took the opportunity to clarify some issues. Firstly the arts worker coalition had not been involved in his art strike of 1977 – that was him alone – and it was not podsited as a strike but a withdrawal of labour. He also confirmed that he was involved with 1970 “International Coalition For The Liquidation Of Art” and mentioned that it was John Latham who passed on the invitation for this event although Latham himself wanted nothing to do with it as he was not political. The other main thing of interest was that he noted that the Art Workers Union nearly joined a Graphics workers union and that Gustav was pushing for this but the artists in the end decided against it.
I opened the meeting on Sunday by introducing the brief history of how DAMTP has been formed out of the Art Strike biennial of 2009 via discussions with the IWW. I also spoke on the continuing problems with Eurocentricity (Luther Blissett turning white, San Precario and Bifo’s Europe V2) which was evidenced in emerged in the original 1970 New York Art Strike Against Racism, War and Repression, counteracted at the time by Women Students and Artists for Black Art Liberation (WSABAL), who succeeded in opening the protest action to women and people of colour.
Monty Cantsin questioned the relevance of an art strike today. He posited Latham’s idea of the incidental person as how artists are not specialised as other workers are. While I cannot agree with that position because artists are indeed cultural specialists, i do agree that art strike needs to be superseded with a data miners and psychic workers strike – in concert with other workers strikes to create the general strike. Along with Karen Eliot, 3 other workers decided to join the DAMTP and we agreed that we need to formulate a manifesto or other form of clarification of demands. We also agreed on taking collective action in concert with other workers unions or groups. We invite contribution from you towards this task. Please contact us with any comments. The call for action against extinction is compelling and one linked to cultural / psychic action. We must link up with those cultural workers in other parts of the world who are defending themselves, their land and therefore other species against the destructive force of capitalism.
Capitalists have responded to the increased Proletarianisation of not only the working class but also peasants and sections of the bourgeoisie, by a dual private sector attack via food prices across the “3rd” world and public sector attack via ‘national debt’ reduction in the “1st” world. The response is not simply looking to pre-feudal (primitive communist) tribal forms of organisation but to strengthen our worker based organisation with those physical and psychic workers – paid, unpaid, living, dead and otherwise – to aid those workers in the “4th world” who need organisational support through our actions. The real contribution to human culture made by tribal organisation will be appropriated not through the regionalist villages of the Primitivists but in the context of free activity of humanity in a society without money, classes or states. Similarly the question of Dartington is not just ‘institutional’ but to do with control of the Land – which must be reverted to Labour and not Capital, cultural or otherwise.
We returned the next day via the “Chalice” Well at Glastonbury Tor. We passed the police gathering at Stonehenge later on. The question of unionising the police and army remains an urgent one.
Karen Karnak Summer Solstice 2010 (410)