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Art Sabotage

by Hakim Bey

Art sabotage strives to be perfectly exemplary but at the same time retain an element of opacity - not propaganda but æsthetic shock - apallingly direct yet also subtly angled - action-as-metaphor.

Art Sabotage is the dark side of Poetic Terrorism - creation through destruction - but it cannot serve any Party, nor any nihilism, nor even art itself. Just as the banishment of illusion enhances awareness, so the demolition of æsthetic blight sweetens the air of the world of discourse, of the Other. Art Sabotage serves only consciousness, attentiveness, awakeness.

A-S goes beyond paranoia, beyond deconstruction - the ultimate criticism - physical attack on offensive art - æsthetic jihad. The slightest taint of petty ego-icity or even of personal taste spoils its purity & vitiates its force. A-S can never seek power - only release it.

Individual artworks (even the worst) are largely irrelevant - A-S seeks to damage institutions which use art to diminish consciousness & profit by delusion. This or that poet or painter cannot be condemned for lack of vision - but malign Ideas can be assaulted through the artifacts they generate. MUZAK is designed to hypnotize & control - its machinery can be smashed.

Public book burnings - why should rednecks & Customs officials monopolize this weapon? Novels about children possessed by demons; the New York Times bestseller list; feminist tracts against pornography; schoolbooks (especially Social Studies, Civics, Health); piles of New York Post, Village Voice & other supermarket papers; choice gleanings of Xtian publishers; a few Harlequin Romances - a festive atmosphere, wine-bottles & joints passed around on a clear autumn afternoon.

To throw money away at the Stock Exchange was pretty decent Poetic Terrorism - but to destroy the money would have been good Art Sabotage. To seize TV transmission & broadcast a few pirated minutes of incendiary Chaote art would constitute a feat of PT - but simply to blow up the transmission tower would be perfectly adequate Art Sabotage. If certain galleries & museums deserve an occasional brick through their windows - not destruction, but a jolt to complacency - then what about BANKS? Galleries turn beauty into a commodity but banks transmute Imagination into feces and debt. Wouldn't the world gain a degree of beauty with each bank that could be made to tremble… or fall? But how? Art Sabotage should probably stay away from politics (it's so boring) - but not from banks.

Don't picket - vandalize. Don't protest - deface. When ugliness, poor design & stupid waste are forced upon you, turn Luddite, throw your shoe in the works, retaliate. Smash the symbols of the Empire in the name of nothing but the heart's longing for grace.

“Smash the symbols of the Empire in the name of nothing but the heart's longing for grace.”



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On This Day in SniggleryNovember 24, 1987: Tawana Brawley stages an assault and disappearance that leads to some seriously twisted political theater. (See Guerrilla Hacks for more info)