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Arty Toss: A Beginners' Course

  Tue 9th October 2012

Lesson 1: The Proposal

Why I'd like to take part in this project

I've been interested (despite having a resolutely apolitical family background) in Anarchism since I was a teenager. At the age of 14 I was reading Malatesta and Ricardo Flores Magon, and taking part in anarchist conferences organised through South London Press, sleeping on the floor of 121 Railton Road.

As a school leaver, feeling a little alienated from the dominant ideology of finding identity and personal fulfilment through work, I was very interested in that branch of Anarchism that aimed at the supersession of work. Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle was a revelatory, Damascene text to me, whose liberating refusal to knuckle down is resonant at all times since.

To be able to meld this interest with performance is an exciting prospect. The historical continuities of the absolute fear of Anarchism felt by the State, however small its active followers are in number, are something that lends itself to artistic re-presentation. I'm confident I would find it stimulating to be explore [sic] this in a practical live art context, as well as to connect with other artists interested in the general area of politicised live art.

I am retrospectively embarrassed about almost everything I write, including my application to go cavorting in a project run by the Live Art Development Agency. The reference to reading leftwing authors during my teenage years sounds like the ingratiating, winking gesture of the outsider wanting to be let in; the distancing introduction of the phrase "dominant ideology" works to give a retrospective intellectual shine to my adolescent reading; the way that the redundant "Damascene" is used as an intensifer--are only a few of the offences against style, and simple errors, that look so ugly now.

But it was successful, and with six others, I'm off on Thursday to Walsall. 82% of experts surveyed agreed that Walsall is a shithole; it was also the scene of a somewhat unruly demonstration by the far-right English Defence League last week. It needs the love.

Led by Sean Burn and Mike Layward, we are going to make a piece to be presented at the New Art Gallery, and in the town centre. It'll be based on an Anarchist bomb plot there in 1882, which involved agents provocateurs and the kind of paranoid confusion about who is and isn't a police agent that G K Chesterton extended to surreal, comic lengths in The Man Who Was Thursday.

I sent an email round to the other participants suggesting a drink before it gets going. Exploring their websites I find the photographs of young women laying on their backs in fields of grass which all funders of performance art insist upon before the money is released.

Trina's coming down on the Friday; on the same day, my Head of Pisstaking, my confidante, my little friend who steals with me through the doors of perception, Kim, will arrive in Birmingham with a girlfriend. I told Trina this, and suggested a night of one man-three girl drinky action, to which she merrily consented.

I want her to meet my friends, especially Kim, with her sexiness, low boredom threshold and bright wit. I'm proud of my girlfriends. Men look at me and Kitty walking down the street with a look that shoots envy, trying to scope her beautiful tits before looking away. Or was that me?


Comment from: Francis Sedgemore [Visitor]

Plagiarising barsteward - you’ve lifted the first two paragraphs above from my as yet to be published autobiography.

Wed 10th October 2012 @ 00:05
Comment from: [Member]

Your wife said I could have it. I misunderstood to what she was referring and there was a slight kerfuffle. Sorry.

Wed 10th October 2012 @ 00:07

I hope you’re not offended but I’ve always found the intersection of politics and art to be an uninteresting corner to hang out on. It’s a lot of blathering to me. The International Center for Photograph here in Manhattan puts on incredible exhibits, but the ones that focus on politics always fall flat with me. I hate it when I expect to see some art but end up being preached to.

If you start introducing her to your friends, expect the move-in conversation shortly thereafter. Just a warning.

Wed 10th October 2012 @ 12:07
Comment from: [Member]

The art that wags its finger at you, trying to bludgeon you into agreement with a polarised position and a prescription of what’s wrong with the world, is, I agree, usually rubbish. But there is also a more subtle form of political art which only wants to present a way of seeing the world in a different way, and is largely indifferent to the ways in which you might act on it, or ignore it (whilst preferring that you did actually do something about the massive injustices that are called normal).

I don’t see us living together (where?) as an inevitable, glacial, movement that follows on from Trina meeting my friends. Although given that it’s Trina that’s already raised it, your predication is correct. I’m not the sort to live with someone. I’m too selfish and too much looking for excitement.

Wed 10th October 2012 @ 16:06
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

Walsall is a shithole went there for a Gillingham defeat once.

Wed 10th October 2012 @ 16:55
Comment from: [Member]

Oh Furtheron – that encapsulates the sense of disappointment that lies at the heart of the lower echelons of football.

When I worked on the railways I once got chatting with some Bournemouth fans who were on their way to Port Vale on a Tuesday night, and staying in a hotel that night. Even before the result, the night had a melancholy about it. They were great company and I was sorry to see them get off at Stoke-on-Trent..

Wed 10th October 2012 @ 22:38

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 57 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.

There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
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I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
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The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
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Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
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The working man is a fucking loser.
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