MANIFESTO OF PEACEFUL RESISTENCE TO ARTOCIDE
I, Alexander Art, turn to you and ask: what depends on you in your country?
You answer that everything does. But why then your own culture doesn`t depend on you? Do you know who chooses directors for national museums and galleries? No? I thought so. You may say that you are not very good at this. Ok, nevertheless you choose the members of the House of Commons, although you are not a professional politician. Moreover, the juries, which consist of people which aren`t professionals either on criminology, conducting investigative actions, or on jurisprudence, nevertheless render their verdicts. This is democracy in action.
But what democracy can we speak about in the country where they appoint, little-known to wide audience, people to govern the key cultural institutions. And how does a museum visitor participate in this process? Nohow! You are just confronted with the accomplished fact. And they don`t care that a viewer is, above all, a citizen who has many different rights and duties, but a viewer doesn`t have the right to choose the cultural policy of the state. This principle can be called: "Consume what you are given." And these people, appointed without taking your opinion into consideration, show you the art they choose for you. And you, as a visitor, have only one right to visit a museum or not. If in parliament your interests are represented by elected members, in a museum nobody represents your interests. You may say that it`s not so bad, because these people are art experts, they are some kind of professionals. Well, but who are these professionals? How many works did they paint? How many sculptures did they make? How many installations did they create? Most of them can answer this question without hesitation: “none”. Well, then one more question: why among the extant sculptures of Ancient Greece, we practically don`t see bad, mediocre works? Everything is simple. Let's imagine, a runner or a wrestler from some polis wins at the Olympics. What does it mean? Honor for a city, eternity for a sportsman. To ensure it, the city holds a competition among several artists. These artists present their models of statues after a while. Next, the customer should choose the best job, but it isn`t so. Each artist hangs a sign on his chest, on which next to the first place he writes his name, and in the second place puts the name of the artist, whose model he considers the most worthy after his work. The artist, who gets more second places, will make the sculpture. Like in wartime an officer can be judged only by other officers, artists` works for state museums must be chosen primarily by other artists. But what is the role of an artist in contemporary society? Is he an innovator? Is he an exposer of vicious social systems? No, artists nowadays are the most oppressed and exploited people in the history of mankind. It seems that contemporary art should be the mainstay of freedom, but it isn`t true. And right now I am ready to prove to you that contemporary art is the most closed, most dictatorial phenomenon of the XXI century without any kind of real democracy in it. Moreover, artocide as a carefully concealed, sophisticated type of cultural genocide is taking place. In point “c” of article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide it is written ‘deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.’
What group do I mean when speaking about artocide? I mean the group which consists of hundreds of thousands free artists. And they are being morally destroyed for just a hundred of artists chosen by so-called professional art community, and they move these selected artists from one gallery to another, from a Biennale to a Triennial, from one museum to another.
If a group of people are not allowed to their historical homeland, can these acts be considered as genocide against this group? If it`s true, so why is the group of people, who are called artists and who lived and understood themselves as artists long before the emergence of nationalities and states, like for example the authors of the rock art in the Shauvet Cave, in our days being pushed from the territory of art by all means and forced to renounce their identity? Isn`t it a cultural genocide?
Who is an artist? This is a person whose homeland is art. This metaphysical homeland has its physical territories, which are museums and galleries. Museums and galleries are the embassies of our metaphysical homeland called art. Our language is our paintings, sculptures, installations. They deprive us of the right to speak this language, the right to be in the territory of our homeland, to turn to people through our paintings and sculptures. I call to classify these acts as infringement of rights on the grounds of art and punish for this crime as strictly as for persecution on the basis of nationality. An artist is a native of art, whose territory is captured and controlled by officials and corporations. How is artocide commited in practice? In other words, how are the conditions described in the UN convention created?
You may ask me about the direct evidence of the existence of artocide. Firstly, this is artists' total dependence on institutions. Being dependent on them an artist either does what they expect of him or her, or this artist is thrown out of cultural politics, what means the blockade from an audience. Any person in this country can sue if he or she is subject to employment discrimination. But no artist can sue a state art gallery on the grounds that they refused to exhibit the works of this artist. And this artist wasn`t refused because the works are mediocre, but because they have already drawn up a schedule and made their choice for three years ahead in favor of the same hundred selected artists, for the sake of whom they commit artocide. You may ask who these hundred selected are. To find it out, you need just look through artists` ratings in art magazines. An institution for an artist is a court, a lawyer, and a prosecutor in one. Moreover, boards of trustees and directors of large state museums is an absolute power, whose decisions are final for artists. In theory, an artist can apply to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, but an octopus is an octopus, because it doesn`t bite off its own tentacles. And an appointee of the governance is always right for the governance. I can`t name such a system of relations differently as cultural feudalism. The degree of freedom of society directly depends on the degree of freedom of its culture. And it doesn`t matter what system of governance people choose for themselves, because if they don`t choose their own culture, then the future of this society is not enviable. The choice of the way for any human community is primarily a choice of cultural identity, but not a choice of a system of governance. Well, let's be honest, is not it a shame when using your money, which you pour into your state as tax deductions, officials from the arts, not taking into account your opinion, decide what works of art you can watch, and which you can`t. Tell me, do you choose the movie yourself, when going to the cinema or you buy a ticket, take your seat and watch the movie which the cinema manager chose for you? Paying for your internet traffic, do you choose the sites in which you are interested or visit only those sites which are imposed by your internet service provider? Why then, people governing state museums and galleries make schedules of exhibitions, taking into account only their wishes and preferences, but not yours? Have you ever been asked about what works of contemporary artists you would like to see in a museum? What art events may be of interest to you? No, because they always choose. And do you know whom they choose from? That's right, they choose from the same hundred of selected ones, because of which you will never see a lot of new, fresh, interesting art works. Do you think that the main goal of museum chiefs is to find new talents? No! Their main goal is to prevent new artists from entering this hundred selected ones, keeping them outside the exhibition orbit as long as possible. So why is the battle for a museum so important? And does an artist really need galleries and museums? Certainly, yes, because there are indeed only two kinds of art – contemporary art and eternity art and museums provide better opportunities to find out: what pieces of art will remain in eternity, and what will be washed away by the foam of days. And what about unofficial street art, you may ask. In fact, street art aspires to the museum and finishes its way in a museum, and Basquiat and Banksy are clear examples. And one more important aspect about the museums and galleries. If your works are exhibited, then they are sold. And if they are sold, it means that you can devote all your time to art. If an artist is torn between a picture that he will never sell and hateful, but feeding him work, then most likely nothing good will come of it - he will do his job badly all his life and never realize himself as an artist. If there aren`t any exhibitions, then there aren`t any sales, and, therefore, an artist needs think about pressing needs and leave the land called "Art". And when such an exodus becomes massive, then inevitably a civilizational crisis comes. A civilization can be called civilization only if it has its own culture, and therefore original forms of fine art, music, literature. You choose the way of your civilization by choosing the art that you want to see. Let's suppose that you voluntarily renounce your right of choice in favor of the authoritative artistic community. But didn`t the authoritative artistic community at the time humiliate the Impressionists? And what about the Salon of the Refused? Didn`t the most of the visitors come to this exhibition to mock at the art works exhibited there? Didn`t the authoritative artistic community of Germany announce the works of dozens of world-famous artists, including Kandinsky, Mondrian, Chagall, Klee, Marc, Kokoschka, degenerative art? Weren`t these artists` works destroyed with their approval? Didn`t the authoritative artistic community of the Soviet Union shamelessly fulminate the Russian avant-garde? Think: who chooses your future instead of you? The principle "divide and rule" is successfully used in the context of the artocide. Members of national diasporas help one another in foreign countries. Members of religious organizations and parties do the same. Workers of large enterprises have trade unions which represent their interests, protect and support them. And only artists live by the principle "you die today, and I'll die tomorrow," and this is not because artists are bad guys, they are just physical or moral slaves of the system. The artists, who achieved success and entered the hundred selected ones or, who are about to get there, are afraid to lose their financial well-being. And those who haven`t yet achieved this position keep silent because they hope to get there and don`t want to worsen relations with the "almighty" top of the authoritative artistic community. And there isn`t, in fact, any relational aesthetics, but only fear and envy, envy and fear. Contemporary artists criticize everything, but we can count those who criticized art institutions over the past few decades on the fingers. What does this situation threaten us with? The fact is that we are going on for the "dark ages 2.0" station by the express train of technical progress. You may say me that all this is complete nonsense. And who am I to make such statements? And the main thing: where are the proofs of my statement? I am ready to provide you more than enough evidence to support my conclusions right here, right now. More than sixteen years have passed since the beginning of the XXI century. Let's compare the first sixteen years of the XX-th and XXI-st centuries. Let`s compare most influential people in the arts of the beginning last century and these days and significance their contributions to art. During this period in the 20th century within the visual arts expressionism, fauvism, futurism, cubism, abstractionism developed. Inside abstract art rayonism, suprematism, Kandinsky system arose. Dadaism emerged.
In general, art world boiled, incessantly giving rise to more and more creative ideas. And now you, the viewer, are intentionally deprived of this creative boiling, which, believe me, can be renewed. Cross-pollination is characteristic of the arts. And when the pollen of visual arts pollinates other forms of art, a wondrous firework of new ideas and talents flares up in the world. The revolutionary ideas of Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Craig didn`t just transform the theater, but they radically changed it. The most significant ballet company in Europe in the 1910s and 1920s - Diaghilev's Russian ballet with the leading dancer, inimitable and unrivaled, Nijinsky turned the existing understanding of dance art. And Isadora Duncan, on her bare feet, brought a new dance era to art. Shalyapin and Caruso with their sincere and expressive voices brought new standards of realistic performance to opera.
And poetry! At the beginning of the XXth century in Russia the whole poetic universe with galaxies of futurism, symbolism, imaginism, acmeism arose. Such stars as Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Andre Salmon emerged in France. Hot like meteorites Spanish lines by Jimenez, Machado, Dario burst into world poetic space.
And prose? I think such names as Dreiser, London, Joyce, Proust, Thomas Mann, Kafka, O. Henry, Hesse speak for themselves.
Now let's summarize. Just compare the works of such giants as Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Kandinsky and the works of contemporary artists. I think any comments are unnecessary here. The theater has become absolutely predictable nowadays. It lives either according to the principles introduced by the theater innovators in the last century or three main theatrical cliches are used: the action of classical plays is carried forward nowadays, men play female roles, women play male roles, and scandal for the sake of brouhaha.
And in music: where are new geniuses, where are real significant achievements?
Оf course, the situation with prose is better, although there are no real breakthroughs. The main problem is that if the current situation doesn`t take a turn for the better, traditional prose will cease to exist as a phenomenon in 25-30 years. And your bookshelf is the main proof of it. In the whole multimillion space of printed literature, by and large, there are only two types of interactions between text and image. They are an illustration which is an image absolutely subordinate to a text and the format of an art album or a comic book where a text takes the place of a subordinate and complements an image. Meanwhile, only one small publication on the Internet can include photo, video, commentary, augmented reality. All this is actually progressive and interesting, but the generation which is born now, who are in maternity homes, who play with their toys at home, will take a book just as a text file printed on paper and nothing more. For the generation growing in the media environment supersaturated with visual images, it will be difficult to read not only "War and Peace" or "Ulysses", but even with "The Old Man and the Sea" they may have problems. Without visual props, a text of a book will be perceived by them as a white desert with black grains of letters. In this situation, we inevitably soon lose classical prose. By the word "lose" I mean that it will come down from the orbit of influence on society. I understand that it's hard to believe, let's check. Can you right now recall ten great prose works written before the eighteenth century? "Gargantua and Pantagruel", "Don Quixote", "The Decameron", China's "Four Great Classical Novels". Do you know what this means? This means that classic fiction literature as a global phenomenon is a matter of just about three centuries. And poetry exists for several millennia, during which it was the highest form of literature. "The Elder Edda", "The Knight in the Panther's Skin", "Iliad", "Shahnameh", works of Chinese and Japanese poets, Shakespeare's plays, Pushkin's poetry played an important role in the development of national cultures. And where is poetry now? What impact does it have on the life of society compared, for example, with the cinema? So it turns out that there are contemporary poets, there are contemporary poems too, but there isn`t contemporary poetry. On the basis of the above facts, we can conclude that if we leave everything as it is and do nothing, then the cultural stagnation will inevitably develop to the extent of a cultural catastrophe. And one more proof, which is true for professional artistic community, which as you could see, turned into a closed system, and in each closed system, according to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy increases and never decreases. It follows that either it will become as open to the creative energy of new artists as possible, or it will soon come to an end. So if you don`t believe me, believe thermodynamics. The valid question arises: what should we do? And is there any way out of this situation? Of course there is! If you criticize, then offer yours. If you offer something, then do it. The statement is absolutely true. It's like in Exupery`s “The little prince”: “when you`ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet”. And the little prince could do it every morning, and not because the planet is tiny, but because there were no obscurantists who would interfere with him. The problem is that those who don`t allow you to choose art maintain firm position of negation, because to admit the danger of cultural collapse means to admit that the system works badly, and the work of those, who serve this system, isn`t worth a penny.
So, as what we should do. I personally suggest in the visual arts several powerful strategic strikes, each of which includes dozens, and even hundreds of art works. I have given abstract idealism to the world, and it is not just a new stage of development, but an evolutionary peak of abstract art. All abstract artists worked before are proto-abstractionists, they are only harbingers of the abstract Renaissance, the true golden age of abstract art coming with abstract idealism. I provide this statement with my manilogue, a new literary form which has characteristics both a manifesto and a philosophical dialogue, with two hundred paintings, and I plan to paint about nine hundred more within this movement.
The strategy of books of stumbling will allow literature to dig in the territory of visual arts, which will provide it with an additional foothold for attacking minds of the following generations, for whom electronic devices become an integral part of life since early childhood.
What are books of stumbling? And what is a book in general? For most of us, a book is a fastened together numbered paper sheets with textual information. For more than five hundred years of the Gutenberg era, we have become accustomed to the single-source nature of this concept. But now the Gutenberg era is at an impasse, and the new era again raises the question: what is a book? And the more answers we will find, the richer our culture will be.
A book published in one copy is a book? - Yes, it is. Then why instead of publishing on paper sheets can’t the novel The Black Obelisk by Remarque be published on a real granite black obelisk with each side of it is a page? And it doesn`t matter that there are only four pages. Any scroll is generally one large sheet. And I want to ask you what is more authentic: thousands copies of the paper version or the world`s only real black obelisk with the full text of the novel The Black Obelisk by Remark on its surface.
Another example of larger project. It will be the publication of the novel Airport by Hailey, where the entire text of the novel will be published on the seats of the airport waiting room. And it doesn`t matter whether it will be real or recreated in an art gallery. The main thing is who will be the people inside it - viewers of my installation, readers of the novel by Hailey or his characters, because they will actually be inside the book. And again, what is more authentic: to publish the paper edition of the book Airport or turn a real airport into a book? In any case, if you had a choice, what would you prefer to see - such a project or the five-meter-high ass covered with gold paint, which the Tate gallery chose for you?
As for poetry, it is possible to return it to the orbit of the interests of mankind, but instead of contemporary poets, artists will do it. If think strategically, then it is possible to develop and implement a number of tactical solutions to achieve this goal. Within the above artistic strategies, I can prepare about two thousand three hundred works: from small paintings to installations, each of which can occupy all exhibition space of an art gallery. Archimedes said that if he was given a fulcrum, he would move the world, I ask for a much smaller: give me such opportunities as a workshop, materials and museum space where I will be able to show my works to you, viewers, and I will turn contemporary art. And, most importantly, I know how to stop the rampant artocide. Ask the people governing the Tate if they take part in the moral destruction of contemporary artists, and they, of course, will answer you that they don`t. Then ask them if they adhere to the principles of democracy in their work, and they will surely answer that they do. Ask them if they do it in words or in deeds. And if they answer that they really do it, then let them prove it. How? Elementary! They can organize the time of general art equalization. Once a year, one of the world-famous state contemporary art galleries or museums, for example, the Tate Modern for a certain period of time, suppose, two weeks completely clear all the exhibition space, and the gallery is given to the power of artists. That is, any artist from any country can exhibit his or her art works there, and after the exhibition the gallery publishes a list of all the artists took part in it and gives a confirming document that the artist`s work was indeed exhibited in this gallery. The next year the relay of the time of the general art equalization passes to another museum, for example, Pompidou, and so on. The advantages of such an event for artists are obvious. And viewers in turn will be able to see the real picture of contemporary art besides what they are offered and imposed now. Those who say that we live in a free country, and we give possibilities to all flowers of art to bloom, they lie. They make their choice in collusion, in accordance with the principles of selection which are not clear to a wide range of people. And only for those few artists, whom they selected for their shady dealings in the art market, they always have financial water, press fertilizer and the soil of exhibitions, and they don`t care that all of this they give to long withered, out of ideas, creatively lifeless, stink of dust dried flowers. And those who really can give new shoots in contemporary art get only a dry land of hopelessness. And in order to overcome this pernicious situation in the development of our contemporary culture, we must act decisively. The posts of directors of the main state museums of contemporary art should be elected. The Board of Trustees of such an influential art gallery as Tate, which meets only six times a year, isn`t it funny? What can be solved for such a short time? Moreover, if only three, and seldom more, of the fourteen members of the Board of Trustees are practicing artists. What can they do, always remaining in the absolute minority? It is necessary that seven of the fourteen members of the Board of Trustees, should be artists. Artists should feel their power and their rights, in particular the right to defend someone else's talent without regard to dubious authorities. And the power of the board of trustees should not be absolute either. They shouldn`t just choose art works according to their preferences, but fulfill the will of the people. How can they find out this will? – It`s easy. On the site of the gallery should be a section in which each registered artist can present his or her works. And any registered viewer can openly vote on the principle: one artist - one vote. The Board of Trustees reviews the projects which have received more votes, and must do it on-line, then makes an informed decision. This is how direct democracy of art looks in action. My proposal seems strange to many people now, but the speech of William Wilberforce against the slave trade in the House of Commons on May 12, 1789 sounded, I believe, no less strange. In any case, no matter what they say you, your right is to choose art. Choosing art, you choose your future. Let`s together make this future beautiful!
Because our present is not bright at all, we won`t go far, and take the well-known Tate Modern gallery.
“The most popular modern art museum in the world… truly unique institution… dazzling new spaces… incredible collection, amazing artists… a world-class museum is built on its commitment to generating innovative, high-quality research…” – in this way the director of the Tate Modern gallery Frances Morris represents it. And what is Tate Modern really? Excellent huge modern museum complex in the center of London, the potential of which the vaunted curators of the Tate Modern can`t even use by half.
Let's go through all the points.
The tenth level is a viewing terrace. Do the curators of Tate Modern have a lack of ideas for exhibitions? Have they decided to exhibit London as an installation?
The ninth level is entirely occupied by the restaurant. Do artists-chefs cook conceptual masterpieces from products for the visitors of the gallery there? Nothing like this! Just an ordinary catering with the most banal menu!
Eighth level is the members` room. Do you have kind of your own caste based art society? At the lowest level “ordinary” visitors are, they should be immensely grateful to you for letting them in to see contemporary art for free in the specially designated territory. Although why is it free, if there is funding for museums from citizens' taxes? And did it not occur to you that we are willing to pay to see in the museums the contemporary art which we choose, but not the contemporary art you impose on us, dear curators! Members have a higher status in this system, they are allowed to private views, wine and beer tastings at the Tate Modern, and even to drink with the director of Tate Modern so that they could feel themselves elected, true connoisseurs of contemporary art for their money. On the next stage patrons, the people who give a lot of money to this gallery, and curators are so fond of them. Frances Morris said about fundraising in her interview “I love it! I can’t tell you how gratifying it is when somebody says, “I’m going to give you £100,000!” But in this system even the patrons differ from each other in their status. There are Young patrons, Silver patrons, Gold patrons and even Platinum patrons. Immediately the question arises: is Tate Modern a museum or multi-level marketing company? And of course the main place in this system is occupied by curators, because only they have the secret knowledge of what real contemporary art is, only they can decide what you are allowed to look at in the museum. Stop! And where are artists in this system? By their status, they are somewhere among service staff. Some of them, who have confirmed their loyalty to the curators' regime, are allowed to exhibit several of their works and periodically to be in the Tate Exchange to communicate with museum visitors. These artists are very few, but it is easier for curators to control them. What exactly happens on the events level is not clear, but in the Tate Modern events program much attention is paid to food and drink and parties, so make your own conclusions. And if you look in the events section at the Tate Modern`s site, you will see how many rooms where a lot of works of contemporary artists could be exhibited they rent out for private and corporate parties. Tate Modern curators always haven`t enough space for contemporary artists, but there are always a lot of rooms for private and corporate parties, including famous Turbine Hall, in this gallery.
Tate Modern`s curators think that fourth, third, second levels and the part of space on zero level is more than enough for contemporary art. But in fact even these areas are not always used for exhibitions, because some of these halls can stay empty and closed for a month or more in anticipation of the next exhibition, while setting artworks takes only about two-three days. But the curators don`t care it, because they are faced with a more important task: they need to raise funds to support contemporary art, the very same contemporary art which they do all their best to keep out of their gallery. And what do we have as a result - a world famous museum of contemporary art or just one more entertainment center? In my opinion, the conclusions are obvious. You may ask, why does it concern me so much? Because all this reminds me of my childhood in the totalitarian Soviet Union. They also divided people on “ours” and “others” there. “Our people” were those who occupied certain positions in the system of Soviet state and local government, the rest people were “others”. "Our people" used to enjoy all the benefits available in this system, the deficit of even the most necessary things was made for "other people". "Our people" agreed among themselves not to let "others" into their closed system, because then there will not be enough benefits for everyone. And so that the “other people” weren`t indignant, they were told that they should be grateful to this totalitarian system. Tate Modern replicates this totalitarian system of relationships. They divide visitors into “ours” - members, and “others” - ordinary visitors, who should be grateful for access to free exhibitions. They divide artists into “ours”, whom, are allowed to exhibit their works, and “others”, whose works, no matter how talented they are, they don`t exhibit. Why am I sure of it? Personal experience! I sent my project to Tate Modern last year. I received a reply with the promise that the project will be reviewed within 3 months. More than half a year passed, but no result on the consideration of my project from Tate Modern. On July 7, 2017, I began my performance in support of abstract idealism in the square in front of the Tate Modern gallery, and within a few minutes several employees of this gallery rushed to me and destroyed my work, which could be one of the largest abstract paintings in the world.