Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Guerrilla Art Action Group poster, free (for the price of shipping)
Guerrilla Art Action Group
The Definitive/ist Manifesto
24 x 18 inches
The Guerrilla Art Action Group (GAAG) was founded on October 15th, 1969 in New York City by Jean Toche, Jon Hendricks and Poppy Johnson. Toche and Hendricks met at the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, opposite Washington Square Park. Hendricks was the gallery director at the time, and Toche began participating in events there a few years prior.
The group used political interventions and performances to protest the Vietnam war, the US government and the art establishment. Their peak activities were concentrated between the years of 1969 and 1971, and they remained active until 1976 (see a recent reissue of their Printed Matter book, here) . After this, they sporadically issued statements, including the above poster, released in 1981.
In cooperation with Primary Information, a reproduction of the poster is now available, free of charge, here. (Shipping costs are $1.12 via paypal within the US and a couple of dollars more elsewhere).
Below is an excerpt from a conversation between Christina Linden and Jon Hendricks from March 2010. Read the full interview here):
LINDEN: You’ve written a lot of manifestoes...And I think that’s a form that you stuck with a little longer. You know, the actions were mostly taking place very late sixties, maybe through ’76 or so. But you continued to deliver manifestoes, written statements, letters, for some time afterward. So maybe we can switch to thinking about those a bit, why those were interesting to you from the beginning—because you know, you started with a manifesto—why those continued to be interesting to you. And again, maybe touching back, just to keep the same framework on those questions about what kind of effect you hoped for. I mean, you know, I don’t imagine that you can map every effect that this would have on an individual or an institution, but just in terms of revisiting intention and thinking about what your hopes were for those projects, how you feel like those functioned in those terms.
HENDRICKS: Some of the later actions— First, the physical actions are very strenuous. They’re very hard. Preparing for— Emotionally hard. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re going to get hit over the head by a guard or arrested and thrown away for a year or something like that. You don’t know. So it took a certain amount of kind of preparation and determination— But we stumbled on a type of, say manifesto, but we called them letter actions. And so the Eat What You Kill, we would say is a letter action, not a manifesto. And there were several of those. Just different forms of— One of the things we were concerned with was trying to find strategies or ways of doing things that might be effective, not to have a style. And we weren’t interested in style at all. And I think maybe I told you in the beginning, if we could’ve painted paintings of trees, we would’ve painted paintings of trees, if they would’ve had an effect on things; but we knew it wouldn’t. And we weren’t especially good tree painters, anyway, [Linden laughs] so it wouldn’t have mattered.
A manifesto is a way of discussing something and putting your ideas down in a way that you can see it and understand it, and then communicate it to other people. And it also can act as a kind of provocation or catalyst to something. A manifesto can be a little bit provocative. There’s also a kind of romantic notion of the Dada manifesto or Surrealist or Futurist manifesto, Constructivist manifestoes that— in art. And I’m sure, you know, [chuckles] Ad Reinhardt must’ve written manifestoes, and maybe even landscape painters wrote manifestoes. There’s a Fluxus manifesto. There’re manifestoes all over the place. And so we thought, well, we’re going to write manifestoes. If you’re going to be activist artists, you should have a manifesto. And so we wrote some of those in that vein of putting our ideas forward, what we believed in and what we were aiming to do. And they can be kind of helpful in looking at and saying, are we, going along on that path? Or are we kind of losing it, or losing track of things? You know, everybody says you’ve got to be consistent or you have to have a style. We said no, you don’t have to. That’s not the point of it. And I don’t remember all the points. One was be available when needed. A lot of times I’m so busy with my work and I can’t get away. And I was going to take a holiday to the seashore this weekend, and so on. So if you’re serious about it and working as an artist who wants to change things, and you’re needed, you have to be available, one way or another. And of course, we have other needs, but it’s imperative that you’re there, that you can do that. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go on every peace march or whatever; it might mean that you find another form to participate in that issue. But too often, people avoid participation, avoid taking part in making a statement and things.