Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Bit Of A Flashback

I'm just gonna change up the pace around here for a minute. Do a little walk down memory lane.

When I was a young art student I went through a phase of being interested in artist manifestoes. I think thats pretty normal for people first getting into the history of art, asking where our place in all the traditions might be, what horns are we gonna lock with and wrestle. Where do we fit into the history of art and storytelling.

And a number of my friends were also interested in the tradition of artists writing manifestoes. This was back in the day when you actually had to go to a library to look up manifestoes and often we weould photocopy a juicy artist manifesto and share it among our selvers.

Sometime in the later 80's after being out of school, Mister anchovy and I started talking about writing a manifesto. Now I have many ways i would describe my friendship with Mister Anchovy...he was a staunch critic and viewer of art since the day I met him and sometimes he has been known to be very outspoken. Back when we first hung out together , usually with a huge pot of tea and a box of Peak Freen jelly cream cookies we would argue. We would discuss everything from politics to music to art and history...and we would challenge each other. My friendship with Scott also grew out of these kind of discussions about what we believed how we wanted the world to be and how it really was, what challenges do we have to take on in order to practice art...and how do we do the right thing.

You know the kind of shit young people talk about.

So Mister Anchovy and I set about to write a series of notes on our own and then meet up with each other and discuss. And discuss and weed and edit and challenge and think. We wanted to write a manifesto. So we each went to our own corners of the ring...wrote notes and then would meet up for a beer and compare notes. In September of 1987 we asked Tuffy P to get in on the action. I remember being at Mister Anchovy's old studio on Ossington and the three of us hashing out ideas. I,left around 2 in the morning and those two kept at it.

Then we got Scott involved. We set up the idea of write down what you feel MUST be included...and then we all got together and kept distilling our ideas. over and over.

I remember a very funny event where Mister Anchovy met up with another couple we had known at York University. He showed them our notes. There were artists too and after they read what we had written for a manifesto...they said "we can't sign our names to that, you can't show that to anyone, you'll ruin your carreer!"

And Mister Anchovy replied, "what carreer?" it turned out we kind of let those notes back from the late 80's sit around in their own juices for a couple years. I had gone out west in 89 and when I got back to Toronto in 1990, we dug those notes out again and all four of us met up with each other.

Scott often says that our group of friends are friends only because no one else will be friends with us, and he makes me roar with laughter over that one. And writing the manifesto as a group of four people revealed how much we knew about each other, how well we could communicate and how well we were able to negociate collaborations. (we tried to get other frinds/artists to join us, but they were always outraged of shocked by what we wrote)

So, in 1990 we got together a few more times and finally came up with our collaboration which represented each one of us and as a set of artisits and friends. And we published the manifesto in our official languages and on postcard stock. We mailed and distributed them all over the world. We sent these postcards to, Harpers Magazine, Spin Magazine, Kadafi, Senior Bush Brian Mulrooney, Susan sontag, the Sha of Iran, the Tate Museum...just anywhere we could think of we mailed out the postcard with "the Ossington Avenue Manifesto"

We sent these out without putting our names on the idea we would put together a group show with the four of us called "the ossington avenue manifesto" and "reveal" ourselves....more or less causually.

One day I was at an art opening and a very hip, sucessful artist was having an opneing and he had I had shown together a couple years earlier and we saw each other at clubs and around the city. We had a fairly friendly aquantenceship...and enjoyed seeing each other here and there. So we are having a glass of wine and talking and he says "yeah life is weird and etc etc and then you get this postcard in the mail" and he quotes part of it. I say, "hey I wrote that, with three other friends" Well he almost fell over. He was particularly upset by the comments about galleries and the rubber stamp slogan "art is not a transaction"....he was even more shocked that someone who was an artist and so enthusiastic as me had co-written it. He was shocked that it stood up and questioned the authority of galleries.

Anyways...just thought I'd share this with you today...and I suppose if you click on the image you will be able to read it. If you can't read it...I'll type it out later on...

Cheers for now...

1 comment:

mister anchovy said...

Har! I'm not sure but I think maybe the day we first met Stagg we were handing out manifestos to everyone we bumped into in Chicago.